Tips so you don’t open the door to being scammed

A Missouri woman was tricked into wiring about $4,000 to someone in England after receiving faked messages from a friend on Facebook asking for help, police said Wednesday.

Jayne Scherrman of Cape Girardeau wired the money through Western Union after receiving what she believed were several requests for help from her friend, Sgt. Jason Selzer said.

Police were notified about the scam on Aug. 26, Selzer said. They believe someone took over the Facebook account of a Cape Girardeau County resident, Grace Parry, changed the password so she couldn’t access it and sent out messages saying she and her husband had been detained in London and needed money. (Source: Boston.Com)

It was only inevitable that scammers figured out an easy way to bilk someone out of money using Facebook.  Why not? You add friends, friends of friends, cousins of those friends of friends and whoever else requests it. After a while you’ve got 14, 594 friends and not a clue who half of them are.

In this case, someone took over the identity of a Facebook member and because all their friends are listed, they started looking at who would be a good target to send money.

Still, this scam, like all of them, is dependant on the victim opening the door. In this case, the victim called the person who was supposedly in need but that person was unavailable. She wired the money and then called again but by the time she found out the plea for help was fake, she had wired the four-grand.

Here is a five-part checklist that you should pull out anytime you have an unsolicited request for money or some sort of unusual request that doesn’t seem quite right.

1. Be skeptical. You don’t have to sound overtly skeptical but in your mind, tell yourself that you need proof and then some.

2. Don’t consider Internet, e-mail or phone solicitations to be a final legitimate source of information. Remember the bank e-mails requiring you to verify your account numbers? They were very official looking with bank logos and all. They were fake.

3. Call the established phone numbers and verify with a human being. Strangely enough, there are still humans manning customer service lines. Even if it takes a while, speak to someone. Banks have security people. Contact them and they will have the information you need.

4. Do the research. Check the blogs and run these requests on the search engines and see who else has had similar experiences.

5. Bottom line: Do your homework on everything. Scams can’t fool smart victims-to-be. Ask, ask again, and check. Then double check.

There are dozens more ways to reducing your chances of being a victim. If you know, post them here, but one fundamental should be an absolute for you. Ask questions. Not one but several.

Scams cannot stand up to the scrutiny of someone informed and willing to investigate a little.

5 comments Add your comment

BigJake

September 3rd, 2009
9:58 pm

You are correct, sir! A little work will reveal the scam, unless your bank is asleep at the switch. I had a friend receive money orders a few years back, with the “work at home” disguise. She was to deposit the money orders and then wire 90% of that money to someone in Canada. I told her to be skeptical, and her “walk all over ya” bank was to verify the validity of the money orders before releasing any funds. She waited 10 days, then asked the bank if they were valid, which they did, and released the funds to her so she could wire the money. The very next day the bank called her and told her they made a mistake and the money orders were bogus (no Monopoly “bank error” here). They took the funds out of her account, and when she went to where the funds were wired from. she was told the money was picked up in Nigeria, not Canada. Of course, the bank claimed no responsibility and she was devastated. Any time you get any kind of email in this regard, either delete it or report it to you provider under the scams and frauds process. It truly is the “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” rule of thumb, but we were really upset that the bank released the funds to her and then claimed no responsibility. Beware, my friends, and be careful out there!

Tony

September 4th, 2009
12:22 am

When I was a victim I used a resource that had all the links to paperwork I’d need and a questionaire the police loved. Here’s the info. Steve- Have you seen it? http://www.optoutdetectives.com/victims.php

Patrick

September 4th, 2009
1:34 pm

Sometimes I can smell a scam a mile away. I remember one time a few years ago someone sending me an IM, and they were trying to pull the Nigerian 419 scam. Things didn’t seem right from the first sentence, so I blocked the other person, and reported them to the website that provided the IM program.

I get a lot of e-mails from at least one mega bank telling me I need to update my account information. Thing is, the bank that e-mails me is not the bank I use now, nor have I ever used it in the past.

If your banks needs you to update account information, they usually tell you when you log into your account on their site, instead of sending you an e-mail. One time when I logged into my bank’s site, I received a message that I needed to change my password. I checked to make sure it was the bank’s actual website, and it was. Also, most bank sites have a “message center” where they send you messages directly to your account, or you can send them messages while logged into your account, if you need to contact them.

Locutus

September 4th, 2009
5:37 pm

uh, it’s “i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-E-n-t”. Smarmy-ass cops never can spell.

KennesawDave

September 6th, 2009
12:08 pm

Another good resource to keep up on scams and frauds is clarkhoward.com. Being that he is a consumer advocate, he has a wealth of informaiton on consumer scams and frauds.