Archive for Thursday, April 19, 2012

Email scams abound

April 19, 2012

About four times each day, I check my e-mail and I am shocked by some of the “spam.” Right now I just received an e-mail from the director of the FBI demanding that I send some information to be used in a “money laundering” investigation. All he wanted was my social security number and bank account number.

The-mail promised that my money would not be disturbed and I would be doing my country a great service by participating. The writer said that by participating, I might be eligible for a portion of a multi-million dollar reward.

The person who sent out this e-mail must think that most Americans are completely stupid. Could anyone actually believe that the FBI would send out an e-mail to gather information as part of an investigation? I suspect they thought that the use of the director’s name and the promise of reward money would be enough for me to respond with the key to my money.

I suspect that I receive a dozen or so e-mails promising untold riches for a small investment. They run the gamut from tugging at your heartstrings to an outright appeal to greed. I have to wonder if anyone ever takes them up on the offer.

I have received a dozen or so from “widows” or “abandoned children.” They always follow the same scenario. The husband or father was a high-ranking government official in some strife-torn country. He set aside millions of dollars to take care of his family only the corrupt new government won’t allow the family to take the money out of the country. Now, if I will just send a money order for a few hundred bucks, the government will release the money to me and it will be sent to a Swiss bank account. I simply sign the money over and I will get my money back (you fill in the amount) for my services. Now, to clinch the deal, the writer points out she is a good Christian woman who would never cheat anyone. In addition I had been selected because she knew that I was an honorable man.

No, I didn’t respond and apparently either the scheme was very successful or no one responded. Anyway, I got the same e-mail a couple of months later. There are many versions of the scam out there.

Then there is another “message” floating around. This is from the guy who has made millions in his business. He accomplished this through a “secret” method and for a few hundred bucks is willing to share it with you. First, if I had come up with such a successful business plan, do you really think I, or anyone else, would announce it to the public? Who knows? Maybe someone would improve on my plan and I would be out of business. The only way these guys make money is conning you out of some bucks to learn the system.

I think these people missed their calling in life. They should be fiction writers, since they seem to be able to weave a story that might be interesting. I’ve got to admit that they come up with some pretty good plots!

I know I should never open such e-mail offerings, however, sometimes curiosity is just too much for me.

While I quickly delete the message, it isn’t just the e-mail that brings such wonderful offers, con artists use the telephone as well. I believe that a lot of people think when you go past 65 of 70 years of age, you are no longer capable of managing your affairs and you’re an easy mark. The e-mails and calls that anger me the most are those which point out that they are only trying to help older people.

We all know the root of such attempted swindles and it is our basic greedy nature. It really doesn’t matter if it is some schmuck trying to con you of a few bucks or a multi-billion dollar stock swindle it all comes down to someone who is dishonest and doesn’t care about his fellow man. The con artist uses our desire to get something for nothing and always promises big rewards. We would all do well to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is. Unless you get lucky and win the lottery, the only way to accumulate wealth is through hard work.

Swindlers have been around since the beginning of time. There are stories of dishonesty in the Bible and throughout history. Over 150 years ago, “snake oil” salesmen roamed the frontier selling medicine that hadn’t been discovered yet. All we have today is a modern generation of scoundrels who have the same goal – separating honest people from their money and giving them nothing in return.

As far as I’m concerned, I will just be old-fashioned and do business with local folks who I trust and know they stand behind their products. Buying locally helps the entire metropolitan area.

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