Seems like every time we turn around, we’re hearing about yet another scam someone has perpetrated on the poor unsuspecting public. If scammers would devote as much time to thinking about good things they could do for others instead of how to scam them, our world would be a much better place. But they don’t, and it isn’t.
It’s impossible to address the many hundreds, likely thousands, of scams and their variations. The list would be outdated as soon as it was published, because yet another new scam would’ve joined the ranks, while an older one might’ve temporarily or permanently fallen out of favor. The best we can do is to speak in generalities and hope you’ll apply it to your specific situation.
So What, Really, Is a Scam?
A scam, in essence, is paying for something that is not as described, or working for or providing personal information to another masquerading as someone they’re not. They’ve been going on since prehistory, likely, as one author said, from the time humans could speak and possessed assets. Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, is replete with stories of scams, starting with the serpent in the garden, then continuing on to Jacob scamming his father into thinking he’s the elder son Esau, and then scamming his brother out of his birthright. The scams have continued unabated to the present day.
The results of being a scam victim in today’s climate can range from people losing money to having their identity stolen to even unwittingly becoming involved in criminal activities–& those are just for starters.
Since those results don’t sound very pleasant, it’d be handy to learn how to avoid falling victim to a scam in the first place, which we’ll discuss in the following sections.
Myths About Scams
In order to know how to avoid scams, one of the first things to look at are some myths regarding scams, because beliefs in those myths can really trip folks up.
Myth #1 Scams Are Always Easy to Spot
Early this summer I read about a sports figure who was almost scammed by someone who claimed they were from his utility company and that his electricity would be cut off if he didn’t pay his bill via Zelle. A friend of his tweeted something to the effect of “and you fell for that?”
We often laugh at the very blatant scams that are sent out by amateurs. I’d be so rich if I’d only won half the winnings the scammers told me I had. The usually very poor English is a dead giveaway in the vast majority of these emails, but concise English and grammar is no guarantee that a particular email isn’t a scam. Here’s an example:
“Good day to you,
With the believe in me that there are still good people who can make a different in the world despite the ungodly things happening in this world, I found your email address during my private research online and decided that it is pertinent to contact you for the purpose of working collectively towards reaching out to the poor people.
I am Rev. Sister Martha A Simon, served at Cathedral of the De. Espirit Lome , I am 67 years old suffering from chronic urinary tract cancer. From all indications, my condition is really deteriorating and is quite obvious that i may not live more than two months after my next surgery scheduled to be held in UK which My personal physician told me that I may not live for more than 2 months and I am so scared about it. I have no child of mine own since my spiritual obligation does not permit me to marry.
But through this wonderful Bible verses, Psalms 119:116 ….Uphold me
according unto thy word, that I may live, and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Psalms 138: 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou will revive me……psalms 41:1 Blessed is he that considered the poor, the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. Two of my favorite verses: Philippians 2:27: For indeed he was sick nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him & that on him only, but on me also, less I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I always say this on my mind and always have hope that God will be my healer..
So, I now decide to donate all my life savings, which turns out to be at the sum of $8,150,000.00USD . (Eight million, One Hundred and Fifty Thousand USA dollar) to you. Use 45% of this fund for your personal needs and the remaining 55% for humanitarian purpose by
establishing a foundation in your country under my name, so as to immortalize my name.
This money is deposited in a reliable bank in, Presently, I have informed my Attorney, about my decision in WILLING this fund to you, you are to get back to me immediately if you are interested in carrying out this task, so that I will instruct you on how to get in contact with my attorney and my account officer.
Lastly, I know I have never meet you, I prayed and fasted with my spiritual adviser, Rev. Fr. Issac Amakwa before i choose your address and my mind tells me to inform you about this. Provide the information below via my private email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) in other to fulfill this which borders me most:
YOUR PHONE NO:………?
Rev. Sr. Martha Simon”
The simple truth is that if all scams were this easy to spot, people wouldn’t have lost $5.8 billion in 2021.
Myth #2 Only Uneducated, Gullible, or Senile People Get Scammed
The truth is that scam victims come from every walk of life–from ditch diggers to doctors, lawyers, accountants, scientists, and everything in between. No one is immune. It’s highly likely that anyone, at the right time and under the right circumstances, could fall victim to a scam. Many scammers are really good at what they do. Combine that with a person being stressed and their attention divided, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
Myth #3 Only Seniors Get Scammed
Scams are an equal opportunity plague.
Even children are victims, as it’s easy to hide fraudulent activity being carried out in their name, because who would suspect it?
Myth #4 I Don’t Have Anything So Scammers Won’t Bother with Me
Raindrops form oceans.
& what to you seems paltry, to those in developing country it might seem like a gold mine. Believe me, they’ll bother–& laugh all the way to the bank.
Myth #5 All Scammers Want Is Money
While the majority of scammers want money, some start off by trying to steal personal information such as credit card numbers and credentials, as well as to obtain sufficient information necessary to steal identity.
Myth #6 If You Only Had a Close Call, You’re Not a Scam Victim
Yes, you are. There’s something very unnerving about realizing how close you came to being scammed, and that you can’t ever really trust what either a person or your caller ID is telling you. You don’t like hearing your phone ring. You’re paranoid about email links, though it can be argued that you’re actually not paranoid if someone’s truly out to get you. You play the scenario again over and over in your head. And you have nightmares about telling your husband you just caused us to lose $3500.
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