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Scammers - they have YOU in their sights

Congratulations! You have won a Prize!
Remember those letters from Readers Digest and book clubs? They actually gave you something, a free tit-bit with no obligation to follow up, but if you did there was a promise of much more. Perhaps you wouldn't win the big one, but there was enough along the way to keep you interested, and you actually got something worthwhile for your money. It wasn't illegal, or a scam, just a smart way to get buyers on board for however long they enjoyed the cruise. I subscribed to a couple in the past and never regretted it; I can almost guarantee, however, that whoever gets sucked into one of the latest scams, especially the online ones, will end up short of cash and with a bad taste in their mouths! Nobody gives away money for nothing. Except, perhaps, those who are naive enough to believe this prize-winning scam!

There used to be a variation of this in Australia which I hope has now been stopped, but may still be in operation in other countries. It was advertised on TV, a simple game like the pea under the walnut - guess which shell it is under. They repeated the movements so frequently that only a fool would get it wrong and, of course, there was a chance to win big. The problem here was that entry was geared to mobile-phone users, in particular the number to text in order to register. There was a standard charge for this which was quite acceptable, but nobody realised the scam that was to follow. Not only did it cost the entrant in the competition for their initial SMS, but each time the advertisers texted them, they incurred that same charge and - you've guessed it - the text-backs were very, very frequent! So, overseas cousins, please watch out!

A Communication from Your Bank?
Usually, this is an online contact, so if you do your banking over the Internet, don't be surprised to get one. The chances are you will take it as genuine, especially if it isn't regarded as spam by your security manager. We've had them before, and one came in the other day. A phone call to our local branch verified suspicions - it wasn't from the bank. The advice we were given next was most important: a) don't open it, just delete it; and b) it could be a request for information, most likely personal financial details of account numbers, etc, purportedly for updating or confirming records - the bank's comments: we never request customers' details in this way, so don't give them out! It was an obvious scam, one we could quite easily have fallen for, a con many don't recognise until it is too late. If you receive a similar communication from your bank, contact your local branch or head office to confirm its authenticity BEFORE you comply with any of its requests.

You Are the Beneficiary of an Inheritance!
Yeah, right! You are pretty sure you know most of your relatives, at least those still living, plus some who have already passed on; none of whom, to your knowledge, were anything even approaching rich. But – and here’s where the con sucks you in – most believe in luck and have a romantic streak, so there is always a chance that there is someone in your distant past, a wealthy benefactor who kicked the bucket and left their money to future generations. According to the communication just received, you are one of those in line, maybe even the last survivor, and part or all of the tontine is legally yours for the claiming. So, where’s the scam? It should become fairly clear once the conditions are outlined. There are certain procedures to follow, verifications of true identity to be made, maybe further research to be completed before the trustees can hand over the inheritance; and all of this red tape costs money to unfurl. Of course, the trustees can’t be expected to foot the bill, but surely you as the beneficiary couldn’t be so mean that you decline to contribute to your own fortune? Well, be mean, be scummy, don’t hand over so much as a plastic cent, because you’ll never see it again! Hang on to your money and leave it to someone more deserving than these mongrels when you die!

Collecting & Antiques
It may be a little unfair to include this category on the scam list because there are many genuine people involved, both buyers and sellers. Unfortunately, there are some who use a rather vague and subjective definition of value when it comes to what a particular item is truly worth. The best advice I can give you is to decide whether what you are paying, or receiving if you are the seller, is satisfactory to you, personally. In effect, are you happy with the price? Collectors – remember that not everyone shares your passion for your particular area of interest. Antique enthusiasts – if you are into it purely for money, there may be others in competition with you whose knowledge may be far in excess of yours. For all of you, never mind what you are told is the market value – it is only ever worth what someone is prepared to pay for it, you included.

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