In Financial Scams

email scamsI didn’t intend to write another post on fraud, but something “got my goat.” I must receive at least six e-mails a day about my winnings in the lottery.

I read them and laugh at the spelling errors, the ridiculous pictures placed across the page, and the message coming from someone by the name, ‘Dr. Kinglsley Moghalu.’ I think the best laugh is the ridiculous story about my ATM card or the strongboxes that arrived at a nearby airport requiring my delivery information.

Then, it dawned on me. If someone receives enough of these messages, do these e-mails become believable? Is the sales strategy simply repetition? You have the winning lottery number! You’re receiving a magic ATM card, and all you need to do is send a little money via MoneyGram!

The strategy appears to be: “Send this ten times a day to someone’s inbox enough and you will convince that person that they have won.”

Sounds silly, right? But, think about this for a minute. Is this any different than watching the elated people who win $7,000-a-week-for-life in the Publishers Clearing House?

What is the strategy that allows intelligent people to respond to these types of inquiries? Is it greed? Or, are they being somehow programmed? Send enough e-mails, make enough phone calls, and paint the most elaborate picture and people will react?

Why not? We have state lotteries – and people win. We have Powerball and mega lotteries – and people win. So, why not now? I am willing to bet that there is actually a legitimate type of lottery in places like Nigeria or Jamaica.

The power is in the repetition. If I see it over and over again, well then it must be true!

At one point in my career, I held the position of Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Division of the United States Attorney’s Office in Miami. In that role, I prosecuted boiler room scams. It leads us to wonder, ‘how could anyone buy stock over the phone? With strangers?’ I recall, after a bust of one of the scams, I asked that question of the “perp.”  He told me that if he called often enough, the person will believe it.

It’s like the line in the movie, Field of Dreams, “if you build it, they will come.”

So, how is this type of scam preventable? How do I tell elderly clients that they haven’t really won something? They know some people win. They figure that maybe it’s their turn and then they can live in style, pay for the grandchildren to go to college and give back to their favorite charities. Maybe someone will come to their house with flowers and a comical looking check with their name on it nearly a foot-long!

What can I tell these people? I guess I can only say that when something looks that good, then pinch your leg, splash cold water on your face and walk away for awhile.  Nothing that looks this good is free! It will cost you plenty because once a sucker, you’re on a list. We have a name for this list, but I won’t say it here. The hell I won’t, it’s a shit list.

Take my advice for what it is… It’s just AS I SEE IT!

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