Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Cautionary Tale

Aside

I have just had the upsetting news that a friend who lives in the States has lost her retirement savings through a scam. Normally I wouldn’t insult your intelligence by warning you of such a thing; but everyone has their vulnerable periods and I have always thought my friend an astute business woman.

I think many of us in the UK have experienced the scam from Africa offering large amounts of money with certain stipulations and hopefully everybody kept well clear of them. It does help sometimes to have a healthy streak of cynicism. The mantra ‘Nothing is for free.’ And ‘There is no such thing as a free lunch.’ are wise words.

My friend believed she had won a large amount of money from an International Lottery based in the UK. There were no adverse reports on the internet. She was told the winnings were in the Netherlands and was given a contact name. It all sounded very professional. Over the next 9 months she paid various taxes and insurances, including certificates to say the money was not connected with drugs, terrorism or money laundering.

Eventually the money was transferred to an interbank in the UK and the final payment was required to cover ‘fluctuations in the exchange rate’ She asked her bank to check it out and make sure it was legal, and the answer was that she should deal directly with the interbank. Throughout she had been checking the internet for scam lists and now identified it as a Nigerian scam.

She has reported it to the Fraud Squad in UK but has heard nothing from them. She is not happy about the banks who, she says, seem to turn a blind eye to scammers. She has lost weight from the stress but is philosophical:

‘It could be worse- I count my blessings. I don’t have cancer, or a son in Iraq.’

Just be careful- it’s a jungle out there!

29 comments:

AndrewM said...

Oh dear.

Tell her to look at this and read the letters archive. It's nice to see the boot on the other foot...

http://www.419eater.com/

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I'm sorry to hear about that. Isn't there anything she can do?

PI said...

Sam: I doubt it. She has good supportive friends near her. If only she had discussed it with them first. She has had lectures from them and I have told her we all do things we regret and she should put it behind her and move on. I believe that is what she is doing.

Eryl Shields said...

Flip! These buggers get more sophisticated all the time. But you're right we have to keep chanting 'nothing is free' in our heads.

That's a good, positive, attitude you're friend has.

kenju said...

How awful for her. I am glad that neither my mom or mother-in-law had interest in computers, or we might have had the same thing happen. My grandmother was prone to send $$ to TV preachers, so we can't be too careful!

PI said...

eryl; it's good to know there is a thriving scam-baiter web site. See above andrewm.

Judy: as a grandmother I'm thankful for a healthy dose of northern cynicism:)

Granny said...

I get those Lottery notices all the time, even with my good spam filter.

Along with the pleas for money from Nigeria and other places.

If something sounds like it's too good to be true, it usually is.

I wish there were something we could do to shut these thieves down. They're a boil on the butt of humanity.

I'll check out that link.

Granny said...

Linking to you and the scam baiting site. Thanks.

PI said...

Granny: the most we can do, I think, is spread the word. It's the old and vulnerable who suffer mostly.

Mr Farty said...

They had a go at me today. Just hope nobody was taken in by that one!

PI said...

Mr Farty: if I can save just one person from their evil clutches I'll die happy!

Keith said...

I suppose that if they send out enough of these scam emails sooner or later they will hit the jackpot if only one person responds.

They would have to get up early to catch me I'm afraid!

Aside - Were you ever at the BBC studios at Shepherds Bush? I won't say the dates here (you never know who's listening!). I worked in Special Effects Dept for a while.

PI said...

Keith: you and me both!
I can't remember the name of the BBC TV studio but I did a costume drama with Adrienne Corri and Laurence Payne and another with Katie Boyle that I remember.

sablonneuse said...

How dreadful! I didn't even realise that frauds attacked you in that way via the internet - or did it come by post? I've had dodgy phonecalls beginning with "You've won a . . . ." and if they won't go when I say no thanks I just hang up.

PI said...

Sablonneuse: I believe it was the internet but scam merchants are everywhere and one has to be vigilant and remember the mantras.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a horrible thing...! I can understand how intelligent people can get hooked into these things....Many years ago, I was in a desperate financial situation...A friend told be about an "investment"...Well, needless to say it was NOT 'for real'....It sure sounded plausible at the time, but that was partly because the "need" was great.

Maybe everyone needs to go through something like this ONCE....to build up a GOOD amount of cynicism about these incredible scams out there! I'm so very sorry for your friend....And the other factor is: One feels like such a fool to be taken in like that. Not a good feeling.

Bob-kat said...

I am very sorry for her. She seemed to do everything right but still got scammed. I do hope the authorities at listen to her so that no-one else is taken in.

PI said...

Naomi: that is like my friend. Her business was faltering and she thought it was the answer to her prayers. She has had plenty of lectures so I have tried to assure her that we all do silly things we regret and the only way forward is to put it down to experience and move on, and I think she is happy to do that.

PI said...

Bob-kat: I can only repeat my mantras.

apprentice said...

Sorry for your friend, good of you to remind folks to be careful.

Always pay in 50p's and make them use a spanner I say, but then I'm Scottish

PI said...

Thanks Anna1 There's one I haven't heard:)

Mr. Althouse said...

I get those emails all the time. I just send them to the junk folder - most go directly there anyway. I hope your friend gets her money back, but I'm afraid the odds are not with her. Hopefully she will be ok -

Michele sent me,

Mike

PI said...

Thanks Mike! I'm sure she'll be OK and has learnt a big lesson.

David said...

i have a link to scamorama .com on my sidebar, I like toplay with scammers, but they are a BIG problem - big as in billions.... sorry about your friend.
having ham and eggs for brkfast there????

PI said...

Hi David! Play with scammers - you're braver than I am. Breakfast, today was brown toast and marmalade, Earl Grey tea and vitamins washed down with cranberry juice. Bacon and eggs are special treats.

Carmi said...

Oooh, I feel sick to my stomach whenever I hear stories like this, Pat. You just never know.

It's such a sad comment on the state of humanity that people would take advantage of others in this way. It saddens me immensely.

And I know it saddens Michele, too.

PI said...

Carmi: these are serious criminals and I just hope the word spreads and the weak and vulnerable won't be taken in any more.

Kanani said...

I'm really sorry. This is very serious for her, as in the US there is no safety net. I hope she'll be okay.

PI said...

kanani: thanks for your concern; she has weathered worse storms than this and is already getting on with the rest of her life.