Looks too good to be true

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Every day, I receive offers that just sound too good to be true. In the past, these offers came through the mail or by telephone. Now the con artists and swindlers have found a new avenue to pitch their frauds — the Internet.

The on-line scams know no national borders or boundaries; they respect no investigative jurisdictions. But, as with all scammers, they have one objective — to separate you from your money!

uncle scam

I have been a victim.  I ordered a cosmetic after reading a bogus “testimonial” from someone from Hamilton, Mississippi.

“How could she lie”? I thought.  She didn’t, only because she didn’t exist.  That’s apparently a common way to get your attention – have someone who lives near you offer glowing testimonials. 

I got stung for $78 (it was supposed to cost $5).  That doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve spoken to friends who’ve had similar experiences much more costly.

The “product” was for a tooth whitener which came in a big hypodermic needle.  It was filled with a clear serum swimming with glitter.  Yes, glitter. Like I would ever use such a product.  My teeth would probably fall out. 

I keep that needle on my desk to remind me never to be such a sap!

An interesting point about fraud is that it is a crime in which you decide on whether to participate. Hanging up the phone or not responding to shady mailings or emails makes it difficult for the scammer to commit fraud. But con artists are very persuasive, using all types of excuses, explanations, and offers to lead you — and your money — away from common sense.

You can now go to <lookstoogoodtobetrue.com> to get more information or register complains.

scams

This website was developed to arm you with information so you don’t fall victim to these Internet scam artists. Education, good judgment, and a healthy dose of skepticism are the best defenses against becoming a victim. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

In the meantime here are a few tips:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
  • Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
  • To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
  • Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization’s website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
  • Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
  • Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

6 thoughts on “Looks too good to be true

  1. I have a friend name Scott who works for the Fire Depart of Los Angeles County. To play with their minds, he and I answered the scam for 3 Million Dollars in Bank Account in London. We used a mailbox number that I use for my business mail. We both used the same box. We answered all the questions, etc. Eventually they sent both of us bogus Cashiers Checks for 3,764,000.00 . The checks looked real. The catch was that before we could cash the checks we had to send them 64,000. dollars. Ofcourse we took them to the bank and were told that they were conterfit. We both composed letters on a fake letterhead using a name and signing it Attorney at Law and basically told them we were sueing them and we had a server in London that would deliver the summons. Ofcourse we never heard from them again, but another friend did use his real name and address and he finally received a threat of his life if they did not get the money. He did go to an attorney and it cost him 200 to get the letter written. Ofcourse he never heard again either. It is a sad sham. I wonder how many poor people have sent money to these crooks. They are protected by the big “pond”.

  2. Glad you tested these creeps. Did you see this latest scam – It was on the 6 p.m. news Friday- a ring in Florida filed thousands of bogus tax returns (using stolen social security numbers from the internet) and the Guvment sent them checks totaling amounts in the billions (can’t remember exactly how much). They’ve finally caught up with them, but good luck on getting back the cash!

  3. The identity theft thing really frightens me. Two years ago, I decided to request our credit report for the first time ever. Was shocked to see that, in addition to our West Point address where we have lived since 1960, there was a newly listed address in Mobile, AL where we have NEVER lived. Did some research and learned that the Mobile address was a trailer park…the kind where you rent a space for a certain time and drive in and out. Contacted the local sheriff department to file a report with them, then contacted our credit card company and each of the three credit reporting agencies. They added an alert to our records and removed the Mobile address. Was told that someone at that address was probably attempting to establish a new address in our name and, after a period of time, they would begin requesting credit cards in our name to be sent to the Mobile address. After quickly maxing out the credit cards, they would move on to another location. It is a good idea to get the yearly free reports from each of the credit reporting agencies and check them closely to make sure someone is not attempting to steal your identity. We both also opened accounts with an identity theft protection company for further monitoring and protection.

  4. Pat – I had a similar experience. Someone in Colorado attempted to purchase a home using my social security number. I can’t remember how I was alerted – this was nine or 10 years ago. I went to the police also, and they had me contact all the credit rating agencies. Never had any further problems, but it makes you wonder who has your credit card numbers or SS# and out there trying to use your good credit rating to do mischief.

    And EVERYONE should request their free credit report each year. I learned that I have a default on a cell phone dating back to 2001 when I didn’t even own a cell phone!

  5. Did you know that many court houses have social security numbers on property deeds, oil and gas leases, etc. Am also concerned about obits in newspapers that list the mother’s maiden name. When my mother died, I purposely did not list the names of her parents. This is also available online in genealogy records. Seems much too easy for those who wish to steal identities. Am sure many of you who have credit cards periodically receive notices that your credit line has been increased. Eventually, your credit line is pretty large. After my experience with an “almost” identity theft, I contacted my credit card company, asked that my credit line be lowered and that they not increase my available credit unless I requested that they do so. I also stopped putting account numbers for credit cards, etc. on checks, and I shred, shred, and shred. May not help in the future, but at least I feel safer from those vultures out there.

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