If you have been using email for quite some time, you will undoubtedly have been informed of the tragic passing of a stranger who bore the same family name as you and how their estate is willing to give you USD 10 Million to pose as their heir, in return for your credit card information. Maybe a rich king in Africa wants to share his wealth with you, to the tune of USD 100 Million, in return for a small fee of USD 10 – 50 to cover banking expenses.
There is also the age-old favorite of winning the lottery and being issued USD 230 Million to your name, you only need to do one small thing. You guessed it…give them your personal information to verify you won this lottery you never remember entering.
Since the invention of the Internet, there has always been a group that preys upon the novice users with promises of riches in return for pennies. Mind you even the experts are finding themselves ensnared in the traps of the millions upon millions of fraudsters and scam-artists all over the Internet.
I cannot count the number of times I jumped up and down, excited and giddy like a school child, at the notion that I was being offered employment by a big company at a huge salary or that I had won the elusive green card lottery, only to find out it was all a scam. I have seen it all – or so I thought.
As times have changed and people have become savvier to these forms of deceit, the deceivers have upped the ante and now go the whole 9 yards in a vicious attempt to goad you into a false sense of security before beating you over the head with a club and stealing your money.
Just recently I was approached with the notion of investing in a blockbuster movie set to shoot in the UK. It started off too good to be true. A guaranteed return of 120 percent in the first year and royalties for the next 25. Unfortunately the most time-honored truth is that if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
They were persistent, calling every week and trying to weed GBP 5,000 out of me as the base investment. Of course being a skeptic I ran every countermeasure available. They had gone as far as establishing two bogus websites and a fake professional online profile on LinkedIn, cross referenced too! What was worse was that, in addition to the lack of concrete evidence suggesting foul play, online searches brought up no reported scam with similar queries unlike other scams, i.e. you need only search for the text sent from your rich dead uncle’s lawyer to find that it is a template for phishers everywhere. Once upon a time I was approached by someone wanting to advertise on my blog for a whopping USD 10 (paid TO me), when I searched for their name online a user across the globe had called this a scam as he had been contacted by this person and nothing came of it. However, as it was money flowing in, I decided to entertain their requests and sure enough, the money was paid to me!
We all wish it were possible for someone to wave a magic wand and shower us with untold riches. If a person can raise USD 67,000 to start a project to make a “potato salad” (seriously, search for it!), then obviously there are ways to make easy money online.
The only advice to be offered is to exercise due care when receiving unsolicited emails. It is not always the case that you are requested to pay a small fee. Sometimes they request personal information for a far more nefarious purpose than simple monetary theft. With certain details to provide such as passport number, civil ID number (or worse, copies of such), you can find yourself a victim of identity theft.
We would love it to be possible that we suddenly find ourselves millionaires, but as with most things in life, if you do not put the effort in to achieve it, the victory will be bland and tasteless. Of course this can be construed as the poor man’s argument, however, we leave it to your sound judgment.