How can anyone fall for a scam? It won’t happen to me!
These words are echoed by many of us, until we become victims. The next line is usually ‘How could I have been so stupid?!’ Your legs feel like jelly, you feel sick – almost to the point of throwing up – and you feel stupid. With fraudulent scams on the increase, it’s important to be aware of these scams and to protect ourselves from them as far as possible.
Sweetheart Scams affect women around the world who are looking for love online.
“I lost my husband over 10 years ago and finally felt that I should start moving on with my life. I’d heard about online mainly from adverts on TV and thought that as I don’t go out much, this would be a great way to meet someone.
He was one of the first people to get in touch with me and we got on well via online messages. He made me feel special and made me laugh. We exchanged emails every day for about a month before he asked for my number. I looked forward to his regualr calls as they were always very uplifting. We got closer and closer. I felt like I was loved again, and I fell in love with this man even though he lived thousands of miles away.
He was a business man having a challenging time with his business, and often needed money to pay for supplies. I sent him money. Time and again I sent money, and I didn’t question it because I loved and trusted this man. I was looking forward to meeting him when he came to England, and even sent money for him to get his Visa and plane ticket.
It was not until I called his phone one evening and a woman answered, that I became suspicious. She said she had no idea who Nkome was, and then I heard him panic in the background.
The realisation that I had been duped came upon me like a ton of bricks. I felt weak. I felt sick. I was shocked. Someone had for the past 11 months been playing with my emotions and stolen £9000 of my savings. Nothing was real. He wasn’t real, the relationship wasn’t real. I felt awful and I felt stupid! I cried a lot and I didn’t want to tell anyone about it.
I eventually told my daughter about it, and with her help reported it to the police and fraud agency. It still hurts me to think that someone could do this.”
If you are looking for love online, be aware that the person you are chatting with may not be who you think they are. Even their photo could just be one they’ve found on google. If you are asked for money, then you should rightfully be suspicious!
Please read this article on the Huffington Post for more useful info including how to protect yourself when dating online.
What are identity theft and identity fraud? Experian, the Credit Expert, uses the following definitions:
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information or possessions so they can use your identity, and identity fraud is when they use your identity for their own financial gain – usually at a great cost to you.
They can take out credit cards or make purchases in your name, leaving a big mess for you to clear up. Read about ways that fraudsters steal people’s identity here. Read more on identity theft, identity fraud, and how to protect yourself here.
Debt.org define consumer fraud as “…any instance in which an individual suffers a financial or personal loss because of unfair, deceptive, false, illegitimate or misleading business practices”
You have completed a 5-minute survey on a trusted website and are then offered a gift from a third-party company, for only the price of postage. You put in your card details to pay for the postage. The company uses your bank details and charges you a much bigger amount every month.
It’s your best friend’s birthday and you want to take her to see her favourite singer, John Legend. Tickets were sold out on Ticketmaster about 5 minutes after they were released. You are desperate to find tickets, and you find some on a ticketing website called Viagogo, at an extortionate price. You may need to sell a kidney to pay for the tickets – but this is your bestie – you’d give a kidney for her!
So you make the sacrifice and buy the tickets. The tickets arrive, the day arrives, and two very excited ladies dress up and head to the concert. You wait patiently in the queues, excited for the concert, but then you’re turned away because your tickets are fake.
Viagogo is an online ticket-selling company that has no morals, no ethical practices, no accountable company owners. Viagogo promotes touts and consistantly robs people by allowing the sale of over-priced, and fake tickets. They also sell tickets from genuine sellers who cannot make an event, and pocket the money, making the seller believe that their tickets were not sold.
Read a letter of complaint that I wrote to them, and nearly 5 months later still have not had a response to.
If you were thinking of buying or selling tickets via Viagogo, think again! Have a read of the many sad, angry and very disappointed tweets on Twitter by searching for #Viagogo.
Ok, so I don’t know if this is legally called fraud, but don’t you hate it when a product claims to do things and it doesn’t do?! False advertising. Who doesn’t want nice smooth, cellulite and wrinkle-free skin, or silky, smooth hair. The girls advertising the product look amazing, but you try it! Instead of looking like Cheryl Cole with the super-shiny, super-bouncy hair, you look like you’ve got a banana on your head!
There are companies out there selling products with unsubstantiated claims to lose weight, control cellulite, wrinkling, menopause etc. Read reviews before you go spending your weeks wages on a complexion correcting crème.
A Nigerian prince had died and left his friend a few million dollars. His friend just needs you to help him get this money by allowing him to use your bank details to deposit it into. He will give you (whom he has never met but obviously has a deep trust for) some of the money for your help.
You receive an email from your friend’s email address. She tells you that she’s been mugged and needs you to send her some money. Please, please help!
You receive an email from PayPal, Amazon, HMRC, your bank…any company that you deal. They ‘re asking you to confirm something by clicking on a link and entering your long-in details. Or they’ve told you that you’re due a tax rebate and they you’re your bank details to put it in.
These are called phishing emails, and they can be quite convincing. Fraudsters / Scammers are phishing for information – bank details, names, passwords… The email may look like it’s from PayPal, Apple, Amazon etc, but usually if you look closer you’ll see that it comes from a yahoo email address.
Think twice before giving out personal data and clicking on links, and if unsure, call the company who the email is supposed to have come from. Make sure you do not call the number shown on the email – google their number instead.
These scams ofcourse, can affect anyone. We are all targets and it’s important to be aware of these scams and to know what to do if you do become a victim. If something sounds too good to be true…it probably is! If you are unsure about something:
• Ask others – they may have heard about this fraud
• Search for keywords on google – you may find that other people have made the scam known
• If your country has a Scamwatch website, read this regularly to keep updated on some of the scams around you
Please read this for information on how to protect yourself from fraud.
Know where to report fraud. If you live in the UK, report it on the ActionFraud website. Don’t feel like you’re wasting your time, all information will help the crime agencies.
If you feel vulnerable you can contact Victim Support.
1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
2. If you are unsure, ask questions – it’s your money you are parting with so ask any questions – don’t be embarrassed to ask.
3. Ask friends and family, and do a search online to make sure it isn’t a scam.
4. Never give your bank details, NI number or address to people you do not know.
5. Don’t give out sensitive information over the phone in public.
6. Shred any documents with sensitive information on them.
7. Don’t just click – it could be a trick!
8. If fraud does happen to you, report it!
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