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Scammers - they have YOU in their sights

Telephone Scams
Tele-marketers may phone offering ways to make and save money by paying for goods or a service that will be of benefit. To them and their employers, it definitely will be if you accept; but to you...? Listen to their spiel, by all means, then ask for a contact number so that you can call them back once you've thought about it. If they won't give you one, you'd have to wonder why, surely? Unless you know them, a voice on the end of the line could be anyone. If it is convenient to purchase goods or services over the phone, you be the one to make first contact, preferably on a number that can be found in any phone book. Be particularly wary of mobile numbers, especially if this is the only means of communication - land lines are a lot easier to trace. And whether you intend paying by credit card or directly from a bank account, just imagine what a thief can do once they have open access to either! If you are not sure you can trust the person you are talking to, don't give them your details - find a safer way to transact your business.

I had an instance when a man phoned claiming his company had made a drive-by inspection of properties and that my roof required attention. I replied: "Funny the person supposedly standing at the front of my house didn't see the sign." When the man on the line asked which sign, I said: "The one put up by the roof-restoration company which sorted out my roof only last week." The man went very quiet. So I added: "You're a con-merchant, aren't you? But have a nice day anyway." And I hung up.

On-line dating
This may seem a strange inclusion, but it is very pertinent. I am mainly concerned for those who are lonely, or are finding lasting relationships hard to make. On-line chat can lead to great expectations, particularly when the prospect of marriage is broached. The danger with many of these associations is that no personal contact has been made - yet! That, seemingly, is the intention, but there might be a small problem - the other party, an attractive, desirable man or woman, doesn't have the money for the air-fare, plus visas etc also need to be taken care of. The financial hitches mount up and sometimes the requests blow out to thousands of dollars. By this time, the trusting souls have been sucked in and see no harm in financing their prospective spouse. After all, it will be worth it. Sure it will, for the scammer they send the money to, the face on the video call that they'll never see again! Please be careful lonely hearts.

Who is at Risk?
Virtually anyone! Suckers come in all shapes and sizes and from every walk of life, but some are more vulnerable than others. People living alone are always going to be susceptible to the unsavoury element of society, especially when it comes to decision-making because they don't have the luxury of someone on hand from whom they can seek advice, or a second opinion. The elderly fall into this category, even the ones who still have a partner. They, at least, can discuss opportunities presented to them, but they can still get duped. The crux of the matter is usually money - the targets have it, and the scammers want it. Anyone who has savings can lose it to the con-merchants, and those without much spare but having a credit card are definitely in their sights. At the end of the day, we are all potentially at risk and need to be very wary, perhaps cynical. The best advice I can give: never trust anyone who says "Trust me."

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