Friday, 19 February 2016

Money for Nothing

You receive a notification in your inbox saying you have won millions in a lottery you didn’t enter. Or perhaps an email from someone trying to shift 50 million dollars from a dormant account and they need your help? Have you been contacted recently by a close family relative of the deposed African dictator Colonel Ipod MugumboFor help in transferring some outrageous sum of money, you will receive a generous percentage. What do all these offers have in common? They are all scams designed to part you from your hard-earned gelt. You already knew this, didn’t you? Surely no one in their right mind would fall for this obvious fraud? But they do. This is particularly perplexing as the email solicitations, are in main, remarkably crude and are often well larded with spelling mistakes and laughable grammatical errors. Perhaps these emails are intentionally unsophisticated in order to convince the victim that they are dealing with a simple individual incapable of deceit or guile. Or maybe the perpetrators are semi-illiterate? I'll leave you to judge.

Advance fee fraud, also known as the 419 scam, is a very common form of scam. Whatever the story, the fraudster will eventually get round to asking for money. The amount varies depending on the scenario. It may be $90 or several thousands of dollars. The scammer will say it is for taxes, insurance, bribing of officials or courier fees. Whatever the amount, or whatever the reason, you will be invariably asked to send the money by Western Union or Money Gram. This ensures that the transaction is untraceable.

Advance fee fraud is big business. Many of the emails emanate from West Africa and most come from Nigeria. Although it is true to say that this is an international phenomenon and increasingly scam emails can arrive in your inbox from Europe and Asia. It is estimated that $13 billion was lost to scammers in 2014 alone and this is likely to represent an underestimate. Often the crime goes unreported because victims feel duped and foolish. In terms of income, for Nigeria alone, advance fee fraud comes in third after oil and bananas. Returning to the original question: How can people fall for these scams; how can people be so gullible? I suppose the easy answer is greed and desperation. Greed can cloud the clearest of minds and blind even intelligent folk to stark reality. People in dire economic straits may clutch at ‘opportunities’ that seem to answer all their financial woes, but first they just need to send off that pesky processing fee.

Most of us would like to think that we are 'worldly wise' and 'internet savvy'- and to be fair, most of us are. Unsophisticated souls and internet newbies are easy prey for predators. Today over 1.3 billion people have access to the internet. This represents 25% of the world’s population and internet use is growing by 8 people per second. This is a lot of potential suckers and it only needs a small percentage of the internet population to send money to scammers to make the activity highly profitable.

As in most things in life, education is the key. Good old fashioned common sense and a nose for things that just don’t ring true are always sound protection. How can you win a lottery that you never entered? Why would anyone give you 40% of 60 million dollars for just handling a cheque? In the final analysis, an old adage is worth pondering and applying: ‘If something sounds too good to be true then invariably it is’.

On a lighter note, a whole industry has grown up scamming the scammers. 'Scambaiting' has become a popular pastime for creative folk with too much time on their hands. Some of the exchanges are hilarious and you can check out these sites here: ; . The premise is to string the scammer along, wasting their time and if possible, their money. The really good exponents of 'scambaiting' obtain photographic trophies of their 'victims', usually doing ridiculous things. Of course, the scammers eventually catch on..... Apparently in the scambaiting community, to receive a death threat is considered a 'badge of honour'. As you have guessed, anonymity is the way to go for 'scam baiters'. For all the japes and fun, it has to be remembered that scammers are criminals and frankly not very nice people. Be careful out there.

'nuff said

Now if you would like to learn more just simply send $499 by Western Union.

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