By Holly Rebello
It used to be a scammer would come to your home, usually dressed as some type of a repairman (i.e., plumber, roofer), and tell you it will cost thousands of dollars to do the repairs, but you would have to pay some money upfront. These scammers were eventually thwarted once the news media in television and printed newspaper go the word out to the public. It was a small victory to put a stop to it, but a victory nonetheless.
The next wave of scammer came in the form of postal mailings to your house or in the form of a phone call to your house. The mailing would state “you may have already won” or “your name and address were chosen” – something like that is how they got your attention. The phone calls were usually stating it was for some organization, some even stating it was for a police or firefighter organization. These scammers preyed on those who had their hearts in the right place and were willing to help do good in the community. That went on for some time until victims began going to their local news media outlet to report the victimization and complain that they weren’t happy with the way their local police department were handling the case. As with the first scammers, the scams were thwarted by the news media in both television and newsprint.
Then came electronic scamming by way of electronic mail, commonly referred to as email. Scammers even found a way to incorporate encoding into pop-up advertisements to install hidden software that would steal your information – or even to take control of your computer. This brought scamming to an entirely new level in which now it was clear that scamming people out of their money was now global. It took no time at all for companies like Microsoft and AOL to devise spam detection technology into their email programs. From this, came the birth of spam filtering software and webmail developers, as well as anti-virus and internet security software from companies like Symantec (Norton) and TrendMicro. The subject line reads “FBI…” or “Dear Beneficiary” HELLLOOOOO! This is one of many scams in the form of an email. Answer me this, if you can: Why would anyone open and respond to emails like this? As informed a society as we are, it makes no sense to me whatsoever why people would still be opening and even responding to emails like that – emails with the clear intention of getting your financial and other personal information so that these thieves can steal your money as well as your identity. In a thirty-day period, I receive up to nearly 300 emails like this – thankfully, those emails all end up in the SPAM folder automatically. Why would anyone click on a pop-up ad anymore? The encoding in some of those pop-up ads have viruses that will crash your computer hard drive or worms that will steal your passwords and personal/financial information.
Some scams that are seemingly as old as this country are better known as extortion. In 2010, a Florida woman was married to a seemingly wealthy man. She met another man at a gas station one day, and she came up with a plan to extort $50,000 from her husband, by a kidnapping plot. The two were caught, the husband divorced the woman, and a bill totaling $86,000 in overtime costs from the law enforcement personnel that were involved in this case. This was the costs that were involved for what was initially a kidnap-for-ransom case. One scam that I just saw was on Craigslist in the apartment/housing section for Rhode Island. An ad for a single family house and after the interested party stated it was not the right fit, the person who placed the ad simply said “Ok, just fill out the application and send the completed form to me.” <-THAT is phishing for your personal information. Another scam that actually surprised me: international scammers posing as United States military personnel – to get your money.
So what is the bottom line / moral of this writing? Trust no one but yourself and when in doubt, don’t open it!
Until next time!