SCAM ALERT

Communication and grooming

If you give them a chance to talk to you, they will start using tricks in their scammers’ toolbox to convince you to part with your money.

Scammer’s tools can involve the following:

• Scammers spin elaborate, yet convincing stories to get what they want.

• They use your personal details to make you believe you have dealt with them before and make the scam appear legitimate.

• Scammers may contact you regularly to build trust and convince you that they are your friend, partner or romantic interest.

• They play with your emotions by using the excitement of a win, the promise of everlasting love, sympathy for an unfortunate accident, guilt about not helping or anxiety and fear of arrest or a fine.

• Scammers love to create a sense of urgency, so you don’t have time to think things through and react on emotions rather than logic.

• Similarly, they use high pressure sales tactics saying it is a limited offer, prices will rise, or the market will move and the opportunity will be lost.

• A scam can have all the hallmarks of a real business using glossy brochures with technical industry jargon backed up with office fronts, call centres and professional websites.

• With access to the internet and clever software it is easy for scammers to create counterfeit and official-looking documents. A document that appears to have government approval or is filled with legal jargon can give a scam an air of authority.

The scammer’s tools are designed to get you to lower your defences, build trust in the story and act quickly or irrationally and proceed to the final stage—sending the money.

Sending the money

Sometimes the biggest clue you will have that it is a scam is the way the scammer asks you to pay.

Asking for money can come within minutes of the scam or after months of careful grooming. Scammers have their preferences for how you send your money.

Scammers have been known to direct victims to their nearest money remittance location (post office, wire transfer service or even the bank) to send money. They have been known to stay on the phone, give specific instructions and may even send a taxi to help with this. Scammers are willing to accept money by any means and this can include direct bank transfers, preloaded debit cards, gift cards, iTunes cards or virtual currency such as Bitcoin. Any request for payment by an unusual method is a tell-tale sign that it is part of a scam.

Credit cards usually offer some protection and you should also look for secure payment options where ‘https’ appears in the web address and the site has a closed padlock symbol.

Don’t send money to someone you have only met online or over the phone—especially if they are overseas.

Be aware that scammers can also ask for payment in the form of valuable goods and expensive gifts such as jewellery or electronics. Paying money to scammers isn’t the only thing you should worry about—if you help transfer money for a stranger you may unwittingly be involved in illegal money laundering activities.

Next Issue is The golden rules to protect yourself

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