DON’T GET SCAMMED!
The rule of thumb is, “You can never get something for nothing.” Another rule is, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t.” Those who are offering you something that sounds great, with no or little cost, have a different rule, “Never give a sucker an even break.” In addition, as credited by P.T. Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
Frauds have been with us for hundreds or thousands of years, worldwide. Swindlers have devised a variety of schemes to separate us from our money or other possessions. Often, the scammed, unwittingly, but willingly hands over their possessions and information to strangers based on greed, desperation, or ignorance. Scammers fast-talk (or write to) us into believing that they are honest, caring, and sincere about giving us something of great value to us because they trust us. Most scammers are intelligent, highly skilled at what they do, and have nothing to lose.
In the 21st Century, Scammers regularly use the postal service, email, other Internet communication, and the telephone to browse for potential ‘suckers.’ Emails are being used more often than the other forms. The Internet’s email system is probably the easiest one to use because a scammer can send out thousands of fraudulent letters, notes, and/or attachments to people within minutes. When that many emails are sent out at once, there is a greater chance that several people will fall for the enticement.
Some clever scammers use what is known as phishing. Phishing is a method used by scammers to obtain usernames, passwords, or bank names of the users to swindle them out of their money. Thousands of Emails are sent out every day to unknown people with known or unknown email addresses, hoping for a response, where personal or bank information is sent. AOL users are flooded with this type of fraud often. They are often told they need additional information to keep an AOL account opened. Once scammers gets enough information, your entire bank account can be wiped out.
The names and logos of legitimate banks are used. If the name of your bank or financial institution happens to be one of them, you may more likely respond to this scam. They will often tell you that your account is being closed, or they need more information to keep it open. There is often a link to a fake site, where users can send information. Do not do it! Tell them nothing and never give them any information. Call or contact your bank directly if you are not sure. Do not respond to this scam.
One of the oldest, widespread, and common ‘new’ scam is called the “419,” or Nigerian Scam. The online dictionary,Wikipedia concisely and correctly defines these types of scam:
“Nigerian scams (also called Nigerian 419 scams), are a type of advance fee fraud and one of the most common types of confidence frauds in which the victim is defrauded for monetary gain.
There are many variations on this type of scam, including advance fee fraud, Nigerian Letter Fifo’s Fraud, Spanish Prisoner Scam, black money scam, or Detroit/Buffalo scam. The number “419” refers to the article of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud. The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now used with the internet.
While the scam is not limited to Nigeria, the nation has become associated with this fraud and it has earned an unenviable reputation for being an epicenter of email scam crimes. In fact, the top three nations of origin of these scams are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Nigeria (in that order). Other nations known to have a high incidence of advance fee fraud include Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Spain.”
The emails can come from almost any occupied continent in the world. It does not matter what country, race, age, or gender of the scammer. The ‘pitch’ is almost the same. Here are the most common pitches:
I am dying of cancer. I trust you and want to will my money to you. Please email you name, address, date of birth, occupation, Social Security number. God Bless you!
You have won the Lottery for $85,000,000. Give us your full name, address and bank account number so that we can deposit your winnings.
We trust you! We want to send you $250,000 to give to charity. You can keep $10,000 for your troubles. Just send us $2,000 for processing fees.
There are packages that we want to send to you from our country. We just need some information about you.
Your bank account will be closed. We need some more information to keep it open. (Bank account can be exchanged for charge or savings account.)
I am a Christian! I need your help. I have money that I want to leave to my sister in your country. God will bless you for helping me.
This Mr. Jackson from the FBI! We are sending a refund for $50,000,000. Send us your full name, address, Social Security number, and bank account number.
There are similar varieties of these scam emails that are being sent out daily. They often use logos and ‘look’ real or authentic, coming government, the FBI or bank officials from other countries. They use real names of people or people/leaders that you know in the United States. The scammers prey mostly on the poor, the uneducated, the desperate, and the greedy.
Tips to remember on how to avoid being a scam victim:
You cannot ‘win’ a lottery that you never heard of or entered.
Why would a stranger want to give you money?
Never send your personal information through emails, especially your bank information, birthdate, and social security number.
Do not reply to unknown emails. If you do not know the person or business that sends you an email, delete it.
Do not be persuaded by any reference to God, Jesus, Allah, or any religious belief by the scammer.
Sometimes scammers will use real-life disasters in other countries to get you to send money. Do not sent money to unknown charities.
By the way, once you send a personal check to an unknown recipient, that person(s) can figure out how to clean out your entire bank account.
Remember that anybody can be fooled. You can be rich or poor. You can be well-educated or have a limited education. Whether you are trying to help others, sharing your money with others, in need of money or just plain greedy, you can become a victim and a big loser. Be forewarned and forearmed!