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There are no genuine "get rich quick" schemes that really work.
Somebody will get hurt or shorted and it will probably be you. Don't
ever send money to anyone you don't know. Don't ever put your credit
card or checking account number into anything except a secure server from
a company you have checked out or know. Don't ever give out banking
information or PIN #'s by phone. Don't ever respond to any email claiming
to be from your bank. Be careful when
investigating MLM's or work-at-home ideas. Some are nothing more
than recruitment schemes with no products behind them. Others may
actually be total scams. Check them out thoroughly. Never call
area codes that you can't verify are local and never call 900 numbers.
I hope that I need not say not to call psychic hotlines or sex related
numbers to anyone reading this site.
This was the headline of
a December 15, 2001 article by Don Thompson of the Associated Press,
printed in the Daily Commercial newspaper in Lake County, FL. Mr.
Thompson says that "con artists prey upon people's willingness to
believe members of their same religious, ethnic, career or community-based
He further states that
religious scams may be the most common, lucrative and insidious of
all," and that "the victim's faith - faith in God, faith in the
clergy, faith in fellow believers - is used against them."
The North American
Securities Administrators Association says there were $500 million in
losses from religious scams in 1989, which was the first time they had
ever totaled losses from these types of scams. This number has
increased significantly in the last three years.
The newest versions of
the Nigerian Scam letter (detailed below) have targeted Christians by
claiming that some of the money will be used for ministry purposes.
I hope that the
information shown below helps you to distinguish a few of these illegal
or Advance Fee Scams
You receive an email
detailing the plight of a military or political leader or family member of
such, ousted from his/her country. No matter what country is
mentioned, the scheme usually originates in Nigeria. You are told
that a great deal of money was gotten out of the country at the last
minute, but that it is tied up in red tape. You are asked for help.
Sometimes the help wanted is told right in the message, sometimes you are
asked to email back for details. The help that you can give is to
loan money. The writer claims that you will receive a great deal
more back once the tied up money is released. This is not a joke nor
a hoax, but a REAL SCAM. I've seen a number of different
versions of this scam. The U.S. Secret Service is taking this
seriously and has set up a special task force to deal with it called 419
(this is section of the Nigerian penal code which deals with fraud).
If you have lost any money to this fraud, you must contact
the local field office of the Secret Service. It
is nearly unbelievable that anyone would fall for one of these scams, but
the Secret Service says that many people do, and they lose thousands of
dollars. Apparently these scams are also under-reported because
people are too embarrassed about having been so foolish to report them.
If you live in a country
other than the United States, or just want more information on this scam,
click this link for an
article telling you where to report these messages. This is
information from the 419 Coalition.
This article also
says: "According to State Department figures
(PDF), 25 murders or disappearances of Americans abroad have been directly
linked to 419 fraud. Other people have been held
against their will, beaten and blackmailed, according to information
provided by the U.S. Embassy in Lagos."
According to the
Religion News Blog, the folks down at 419eater.com have tried to
scam the scammer, keeping them dangling with outrageous demands and
lies. I don't suggest this for any Christian, but the result is both
amusing and sad.
Scambusting site Quatloos
has articles on one Brad Christianson, who has been baiting the Nigerian
scam criminals for years.
The message says that you've
won a lottery in another country - one you never bought a ticket for.
These lottery messages are just another
form of advance fee fraud. The scammers (criminals) send out millions at
one time and purchase lists just like any other spammer.
Here's how this scam works: If you
contacted these people, you would be instructed to either give your
personal banking information or to pay money in order to receive the
winnings. It would be called some sort of needed fee to get the money out
of the country. If you give your account info, they will simply take all
the money out of it.
Our local news had a storyline on this
fraud in 2005. There were people interviewed who refused to believe that
it was a scam, despite the fact that they had already paid out thousands
of dollars and wiped out their entire life savings. One lady paid over
one can win a lottery unless they sign up for it and pay the lottery fee.
You won't be notified that you've won a lottery by email either.
You receive an invitation
to earn money just by signing other people up for the program. Some
may ask you to include a product, others may not offer anything more than
the sign up. These are pyramid schemes that cannot work except at
the top levels. You are asked to send money to join. You
receive money for those that you recruit to the program. You also
receive money for those that your "recruitees" bring in.
This is nothing more than a scam. I saw one recently that required $200 to
join. In order to earn anything, you would need to know 10 other people
who could part with $200. You earnings depend on each of them knowing 10
people who will part with $200. I don't know 10 people who could get
shell out $200 like this. Most people will probably never recoup the
You are asked to send a
minimal amount of money to the name at the top of a list, delete that name
and add your name to the bottom, and recruit 5 or 10 people to do the same
by sending them the letter with your name at the bottom. Money is
made solely by getting new recruits to join the chain, adding their names
to the list and recruiting others to do the same. In theory, eventually
each recruit's name will be at the top of millions of lists and receive
millions of dollars. In practice, most people will receive nothing. Anyone
can break the chain, thus depriving all those on the list of any possible
"earnings." But, even if no one broke the chain, 95% of those who sent
money out will get nothing in return. This is illegal no matter what the message says about it. A recent
version tries to get around the law by not using U.S. mail and, instead,
using Pay Pal. If you receive one of these, please report it to Pay
Pal. Pay Pal can then remove their account and bar them from using
the Pay Pal system for this illegal scheme.
You receive an offer for
a free vacation. Usually these vacations include substandard
accommodations. You have to take a tour of a facility and listen to
a sales pitch. One I saw recently, which was an ad for nutritional
supplements, offered a bare 2,000 sq. ft. lot in Mexico, supposedly right
on the beach - for a $100 fee. This was most likely a scam. If
real property was involved, it isn't likely to have been the one shown.
It is my understanding that land in Mexico cannot be purchased by
residents of other countries, only leased. The ad came with a form
to fill out with your credit card number! I would say that this was
a definite scam. NEVER put your credit card number ANYWHERE
on the net except on site that offers a secure server and has a good
reputation! NEVER give your checking account number or credit
card number to anyone!
The most prevalent phone
scam is the 809 area code scam. Other area codes are also involved.
You get a message to call a number that has an 809 area code. The
message may claim that you've won something and must claim it, or that
someone you know is ill or has been arrested. These are numbers to other
countries. You will either get a recorded message or phone spiel.
What you don't know is that these numbers work just like 900 numbers and
you will be charged an outrageous per minute sum.
Another scam involves
someone claiming to be a telephone co. employee checking lines. A
person is asked to dial 90#. This allows persons in jail to make
calls from that number. However, this particular scheme would not
effect residential customers, just businesses. It requires a system
that must dial 9 to get an outside line. AT & T claims that this
scam has been perpetrated on "businesses, hospitals, government
agencies and other organizations that use telephone switching equipment
called private branch exchanges (PBXs) to handle their calls."
They have a phone number to call to report this. However, there are
some that say that it cannot be a genuine scam at all - only a
hoax. I've had an explanation of why this is impossible
to do even on a PBX system and it certainly sounds very reasonable and
knowledgeable. The circulating email message is
certainly a hoax.
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