Money is the root of all evil, according to the Bible. Many people would agree this saying is true. But most people also love money, especially money that comes easily. As a result, people around the world lose hard-earned money to scammers every day.
It is important to know how to protect yourself from scammers. Losing thousands of dollars could jeopardize your long-term goal of a comfortable retirement, especially if you have financial troubles.
Scammers have become quite intelligent and their ways of extorting people’s money have become sophisticated, moving beyond the old method of demanding a fee upfront for a “job” or offering “free money.”
Here’s an example. An acquaintance came across a mystery shopper ad on a job website recently and without thinking, he applied. The “company” contacted him saying he had been selected as a mystery shopper and would receive a cheque for around $2,000. He was to cash the cheque when he received it, keep $400, take the remaining $1,600 in cash and transfer it to someone through Canada Post’s MoneyGram service.
He received a real cheque from a major Canadian Bank so it seemed legitimate. But if he had cashed or deposited the cheque and transferred the money as he was instructed, he would have found himself $1,600 in debt within a couple of days because the cheque would have bounced.
My friend was fortunate not to lose money to the scammer because he learned the truth in time. But people have lost thousands of dollars – or more – to this kind of scam.
Realize that real employers WILL NOT send you a cheque before you do any work.
Bottom line: If an offer you find online is too good to be true, that’s because it is not true.
Here’s another example, called the grandparent scam. The scammers do a little detective work to find out information about someone’s relative, typically a grandchild, niece or nephew who lives out of town. Often the scammers find this information on Facebook or other social media platforms.
Once the scammer has the name and a few details, they phone the grandparent or other, usually older, relative pretending to be the grandchild in distress far from home and needing money. In one case, the caller claimed to have been in an accident, and now had their jaw wired shut, to explain why they sounded different on the phone. The scammers plead with the grandparent to send money immediately but not to tell the grandchild’s parents because they will be upset.
Banking on the grandparent’s willingness to help their grandchild out of trouble, the scammers convince the grandparent to wire money, provide their credit card number or send a prepaid credit card to the scammer. Often the scammer will keep calling, demanding more money.
Bottom line: Always verify with a third party the identity of anyone asking for money. Contact the police. If someone you love really is in trouble, the police can help – and they can try to chase down the scammer.