The Scammers and the Scammed

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, if people used their computer and technological skills and energy in a positive way, we’d all be better off.  Instead, far too many use those skills in destructive, negative ways.  I’m talking about the internet scammers.  I’m sure you’ve all encountered them one way or the other.

Just about every day, my husband’s law firm email address gets an email from someone soliciting his legal services for some collection scam, personal injury case or bankruptcy.  I immediately click the “delete” button and move on.

I’ve gotten emails from someone in Iraq who says he’s gotten his hands on Saddam Hussein’s millions and, because of some streak of generosity, wishes to share those millions with me – but, of course, the whole transaction has to remain extremely private.  I’m asked to fill out some questionnaire and provide vital information before the actual location of the funds will be divulged to me.  Does anyone actually believe this nonsense?

And then, of course, there are the Nigerian scams.  I think, for comedic relief purposes, these are the best.  There’s always some long-lost relative that has died and has left me millions and millions of dollars and all I have to do is, again, provide some personal information and it will be all mine!  Some banker is waiting in London to hear from me and me alone!  Now, my father did come fromGermany and travelled to Ellis Island on the Deutschland; I know that’s a fact because I have a photo of him on the ship and there are records at Ellis Island to attest to his arrival.  What I have never heard is a rumor from any of my German relatives that my father (before he left for America at the age of 19) took a detour to Africa and impregnated some woman who gave birth to one of these long-lost relatives who is somehow old enough to have amassed a multi-million dollar dynasty and is ready to hand it over to me.

And then there’s the emails from a “friend” who’s stranded in London, having been mugged and left without a passport or any money to pay her hotel bill or hop on a plane flight home to the U.S.  I actually got one of these from one of my acquaintances and I knew immediately it was a fake.  First of all, although she travels to Europe several times a year, I know that she has family and much closer friends than I and if she was really in trouble, she’d email them.  So, when I received the email, I immediately called her office and said, “you’ve been hacked.”  She was already aware of it because other family members and friends had already alerted her to the hack.

So, I couldn’t believe an entry in my local police blotter which read:

Thursday, October 18.  11:31 a.m.  A woman on so and so Road was scammed over the phone.  She wired $1,546.50 to the United Kingdom to help who she thought was a friend in need.  A person called claiming to be a friend and said she was mugged in Englandand needed the money to pay her hotel bill and catch a flight home.  After looking into the situation, the friend was not in England.

This goes one step beyond the email I received.  This woman received a call and still fell for it!  My initial reaction was, “what an idiot.”  My kinder and gentler husband’s response was “she’s compassionate.”  (We see a lot of things very differently.)  First of all, didn’t the woman recognize her friend’s voice?  If someone called and said she was so and so, I’d say, “no, you’re not.”  Why wouldn’t you “look into the matter” before sending money to your friend.  Why wouldn’t you know if your friend was actually in Europe?  “Friends” usually let other friends know when they’re travelling particularly if you’re on Facebook.  And even if you didn’t know your friend’s travel plans, wouldn’t you find out all you needed to know during that initial telephone conversation?

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
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  • artlouis

    My favorites are the ones who say they have come across you on the Internet, have fallen in love with you, and will you please wire them money for travel expenses so we can be together.

  • Roger Ward

    It’s very nice of you to advise people about scams …. but not all of them ARE scams. Recently, I was contacted by a very nice British lady who needs some help with her dead husband’s estate. To make a long story short, I’ll be receiving a very large sum of money soon for helping her. She has assured me that the money I advanced for the estate taxes will be repaid, along with five million pounds for my trouble. I know you mean well but sometimes good things happen to people. It won’t be long until my financial problems are solved!!

    • artlouis

      Roger, Let me have your email address. I have a deal for you!

    • LeonaSalazar

      I’ll be your friend.

  • Ron F

    Did the article say how old the lady was. I have had several elderly clients who were targeted by scams. It is amazing how the scam artists seem to know who the elderly are

  • Patrick H.

    People have very little common sense today, that’s the whole problem. I can not believe that someone would be this foolish to keep falling for it.