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The Hammer Comes Down: Scammers and fraudsters

How low can they go in in their creativity for scamming the gullible public?

By Linda Hammerschmid

“Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto”
(I am a human being: I regard nothing of human concern as foreign to my interests)

Never do I cease to be amazed by the sheer audacity of the human race in its creativity for frauding the gullible public.

Laughing sadly, I read those snippets in the paper, those tiny news stories that describe scams that no regular person could begin to dream up, let alone execute, but yet some element of bottom feeders have managed to conjure up scenarios to bilk certain groups in the population.

For example, in Vietnam, seven fraudsters were convicted for deceiving families of war soldiers by creating a business of finding their dead loved ones. The group apparently moved unidentified corpses into fake graves and charged the families a finder’s fee for locating their dear departed using — wait for it — paranormal powers! Gazette, October 17, 2015

After 911, a plethora of scam artists targeted those wishing to lend a hand to victims and their families, asking for monetary contributions by passing as fake charities. Some just post online selling T-shirts.

Never do I cease to be amazed by the sheer audacity of the human race in its creativity for frauding the gullible public.

How do some people do this? How can they? What thought process leads people to think this is how to earn a living? How can they live with themselves? I will always remain incredulous about such scams even though I hold no lofty visions of homosapiens. And then there are the Asian, African and Arabic e-mails. Just recently I received an e-mail whose subject matter stated, “Assalamualaykum” (Arabic greeting for “the peace be upon you”). As if I would consider the undisclosed proposal to be discussed. Delete.

And recently, I also received an email from, allegedly, Sgt. Monica Lin Brown, stating that she saw my profile on Facebook and wanted to be “friends”. Who the heck is Monica Lin Brown? Well, being the sceptic I am, and cautious (again influences from those crime shows I love to watch), I googled the name. And low and behold the real Sgt. Brown is only the 2nd woman since World War II (and the 1st in the war on Afghanistan) to receive the Silver Star for her actions and bravery after a roadside bomb detonated near her convoy. She was presented with the medal by then Vice President Dick Cheney, luckily not while out hunting with him!

So this person was surely a good “friend” candidate. But Google also demonstrated to me that Facebook is awash with scammers flooding us regular folks with posts that boil down to offering to “share” millions of money! The texts may vary but the gist is all the same and this email from Sgt. Monica Lin Brown was no exception. Answer such emails or friend requests at your own peril. Either there is a virus attached or they are attempting to part you from your money. If you want to help out soldiers of any country, donate to the official Department of Veterans’ Affairs. You can securely help out and probably get a tax receipt.

I personally love the spelling in most of these scam emails. You can tell, almost immediately, assuming you know how to read and write yourself, that the information is corrupted. Bad grammar and incorrect spelling clearly are warning signs. Or phrases such as, “we must verify your account”, “your account has been compromised”, “your information was stolen”, “you have won a prize” and one of my personal favs, “the estate of ABC has left you millions. Please contact us to claim your inheritance.”

Answer such emails or friend requests at your own peril. Either there is a virus attached or they are attempting to part you from your money.

Aren’t you fed up of receiving “alerts” from Apple, ITunes, RBC, PayPal and others, that your account has been suspended. What I find incredulous is how many people still actually fall prey to these scams. And it will only get worse the more advanced technology becomes.

Another interesting take on bilking money out of people are the actual mailed “invoices” from companies, invariably situated in places like Mexico. Last year, I received and continue to receive invoices and demand letters to pay over $1700 U.S. to be listed in a directory. What was particularly almost believable about the initial email received was that they allude to a veritable Expo Guide I had been involved with and they were requesting simply to update my information — reference being made to the real Expo, in my case situated in California. After this, invoices and demand letters started arriving in the mail. There is absolutely nothing this outfit in Mexico can do to make you pay, expect to bully you with threats of prosecution and seizure (sometimes even jail). Don’t bother to answer as that will only spur them on. Just recycle the paper.

So beware and simply google the name of any sender or subject matter to verify unknown emails and see what pops up before you click on open!

Image: via StockPholio.com

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not reflect the opinions of WestmountMag.ca, its publishers or editors.

Read also: The Hammer Comes Down on Dog Breeds and Permits


linda hammerschmid
Me Linda Hammerschmid is an attorney and has been practicing Family Law since 1982. She is the Senior Partner at Hammerschmid & Associates at 1 Westmount Square, Suite 1290. She is a founding and current member, and past Secretary (28 years) of The Family Law Association of Quebec. She is a frequent guest on CBC TV/Radio, CTV and CJAD, providing commentary on Family Law. You can also hear her regularly on the CJAD show “Passion” with Dr. Laurie Betito, the last Thursday of each month. She and her dog Mac are members of Caring Paws Animal Therapy (CPAT) giving joy to the less fortunate. Me Hammerschmid can be reached at (514) 846-1013 or by e-mail at hammerschmid@vif.com. All inquiries will be treated confidentially.


There are 5 comments

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  1. Beverley

    Here’s your follow-up column … “Top 10 Rules to Elude Fraudsters” :

    1. If in doubt, or even if not in doubt, go to Snopes to check whether something is a scam. This is a comprehensive web listing of what’s real and what isn’t, including multiple variations of scams with specific examples. A true public service! (Also handy for discerning untrue urban legends before you embarrass yourself by forwarding same to the 472 people in your “friends” list.) simply Google “Snopes” + some key words.

    2. No financial or government institution is going to send you an email, or phone you, requiring you to provide them with personal info.

    3. Those ubiquitous threatening emails and phone calls from CRA (previously known as Revenue Canada) regarding a debt of which you were unaware, and requiring you to send payment today, are not from CRA (refer to numbers 2. and 1. above)

    4. Yup, grammatical and spelling errors are dead giveaways, and when they are (very rarely) absent, peculiar phrasing is also a reliable indicator of a scam. Unfortunately, even reputable newspapers no longer seem to employ proofreaders, but that’s a whole other rant!

    5. Just because the person or organization supposedly contacting you exists, doesn’t mean it’s the real person or organization contacting you.

    6. If someone offers you a “free” gift, prize or earnings on condition you send them money first (often expressed as a processing fee, or tax, or a deposit to open an account into which your newfound $millions will then be deposited) they are either selling you something or scamming you – or both.

    7. Do not give your credit card number to anyone who calls or emails you, or knocks on your door, whether charity or anyone else. Just say you don’t do that, and then do your research before deciding whether you want to donate or purchase. Do not succumb to high pressure tactics.

    8. Ghanaian gold does not need to be converted to gold dust to be smuggled out of Ghana … That is known as fairy dust!

    9. And, the oldie but still goodie, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

    10. NEVER IGNORE THESE RULES, EVEN IF YOU’RE DESPERATE OR LAZY!

    I could go on, but these will probably save you from yourself and from 99% of the fraudsters you encounter.

    With love from your sister!
    B

  2. Bill Wexler

    Great article as I have been alerting many of my friends on Facebook over the years about scams that I have come across including this recent one “”Regards, Napoleon Brennan, “Please find the document file attached to this mail. ( probably a worm or virus ) The attached file contains Transfers and invoices history of your bank account. Regards,, Napoleon Brennan”.
    A couple that you should also alert the readers of are:
    1. the “catfish” scams ( http://www.ksl.com/?sid=38523000&nid=148 ) ( the “tineye.com” link is very helpful here ) and
    2. The Virtual income scams. Here they give you $50 ( they say that is yours to keep no matter what) to start to play the virtual market. You play and decide to withdraw $$ when you reach the minimum withdraw limit of $300. However to withdraw you need to make a deposit of $500 to get your money ( I didn’t go that far) to “legally open an account”. Sounds good as you made $300 in 30 minutes! I can see the results as it is total virtual with no control to the point where they can close your account and poof money gone.

    The commercial bogus invoice has been around for a long time. As a retired Purchasing manager I caught many invoices like this plus L/C’s that were passed by the bank yet very fraudulent.

    Great article, thanks for the refresher lecture, much appreciated

    Namaste
    Bill


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