Unfortunately, we live in a world in which criminals view each and every one of us as a potential target. And many of these con artists can be quite convincing. Some of these scams are common for the very reason that they are so believable! It really can happen to anyone who lets down their guard for just a short time.
Sadly, my own father once fell for the “lottery” scam. He received a letter informing him that he’d won the lottery, and he needed to pay some administrative fees and taxes in order to have the money released to him. The con artist even sent him a check, which he deposited in his bank account before wiring money overseas for the “fees”. My dad really believed he had won the lottery, and the check was his proof.
Of course, the check bounced. There was no lottery, and he had not won a large sum of money. But because the processing time for the foreign check was several weeks, in the meantime this con artist convinced him to wire money on multiple occasions to cover various fake administrative costs.
Sadly, I tried to warn my dad that this was a scam. He wouldn’t listen to me, or anyone else in the family, so we brought the police over to his house to talk with him. He wouldn’t even listen to law enforcement officials, because this con artist was so personable and convincing.
We tend to wonder who on Earth would fall for these scams; let me tell you, I never thought my dad would believe in something like this. That should tell you how convincing these con artists can be! They make up seemingly credible stories, and they don’t give up once they have you on their hook. As you jump through hoops to claim your “prize”, every explanation seems to make perfect sense. You truly believe that this representative from a fake lottery company is on your side.
When it was all said and done, my dad had wired over one hundred thousand dollars to a stranger in a foreign country. It was a devastating loss, and money lost through scams is almost never traced and reclaimed.
The takeaway lesson here is this: First, any time someone tells you that you must pay money in order to receive a prize, you are dealing with a con artist. Second, because these people can be so convincing, don’t allow yourself to be sucked into conversations with them. Do not answer their phone calls, and throw away their mail. Third, if you have an older relative, make sure you have talked to them about the warning signs of a scam. These people are out to steal retirement funds from what they view as easy targets. We have to protect ourselves by getting educated, staying vigilant, and keeping an eye on our loved ones.