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Being Scammed in the 21st Century

And How to Avoid It

By Judith JaschaPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
Being Scammed in the 21st Century
Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Scamming has been around for centuries. There have always been people who looked to take advantage of people to make a monetary gain. For years, scammers would make phone calls or send letters to potential victims to get them to invest their money in some kind of venture that would end up milking their bank accounts dry. Recently however, there has been a new tool that scammers have begun using as a way to con people: the internet. Although the internet can be a way for people to be conned, if used properly, it can be used to teach people how to avoid devastation.

The Lottery

We all dream of somebody showing up at our door with a giant check, telling us that we have won a million dollars. We hear of people winning all the time, though we seldom actually know someone who has won the lottery. Growing up, I watched my grandma get phone calls telling her that she had won a new car and thousands of dollars. She would be so happy, thinking that she would provide financial security not only for herself, but also her offspring. Before she could finish celebrating, she would get a call telling her that in order for her to obtain her prizes she would have to send a ton of money to cover taxes and shipping.

On more than one occasion she would go to the bank and withdraw all her money and send it to the caller. When she called to ask for updates, no one would answer, until finally the guy that had once been so nice answered, cussed her out and hung up on her. I watched her burst into tears. One night she came into my room crying, saying it was all over. All I could do was hold her. I still have that image of her in my head, and it breaks my heart. After we got the internet I would research any company that got in touch with my grandma to see if it was legit. I tried my best to protect her from having something like that happen again.

Scammers now send emails to people saying that they have won a foreign lottery that nobody actually entered. Or perhaps they won another prize or gift card. All it takes to claim your prize is send so much money to handle shipping. They will ask for your bank account info or your credit card number so that they can get the money. Before you know it, your account is empty.

This happened to me once when I got a call that said that I had won a Wal-Mart gift card. As I had a prepaid card and a little spending money, I thought that I would give them the benefit of the doubt. That is until they tried to also sell me such things as an insurance policy and a home security system. Apparently they didn’t take my no for an answer and tried to charge about three hundred dollars on my card. The joke was on them however, I only had ten in my account. Since then I have ignored phone calls and emails saying that I have won anything, unless I know for a fact that it is a legitimate company.

Dating

Everyone wants to find that one special somebody to spend their lives with. For those of us who don’t get out much, or are terrified to talk to somebody of the opposite sex, there is online dating. Before the internet, there were lonely hearts clubs in magazines and newspapers. Now there are dating sites from everyone from single parents to people of every religion, occupation, or hobbies. It sounds like an excellent way of finding your dream partner, right? Ehh…perhaps not. Although dating sites claim to hold security to a high standard, scammers are still able to create accounts, win hearts, and steal money.

Picture this. You are an intelligent, successful person. You have a family and friends that you are close to. You also have a great job, a house, and a car. Your life is awesome. If only you had somebody to share it with. You may be widowed or divorced, or you’ve never been married at all. On a fluke, you decide to create an account on a dating site. Afterall, what’s the worst that can happen?

You fill out a profile and add pictures, not really expecting anything. Then all of sudden you get a like. It's an incredibly attractive person with similar tastes as you. You get to talking and you see sparks. They tell you that they love you and that they want to spend the rest of their lives with you. You begin to plan your wedding, and your new life.

One day they tell you something has happened. It may be something with work or a medical emergency. Either way, they need a lot of money. Because you love them and they need you, you send them the money. But it isn’t the last time. They will continue to come up with reasons that they need money, and they will quickly remind you that if you truly loved them, you would be there for them no matter what. Your loved ones worry about you and try to warn you. You become angry and defensive. How dare they try to run your life. Eventually you find out the truth, often after your entire life savings have been wiped out. The picture that they sent you was one they googled. They gave you a fake name, address, life story, everything.

The best ways to avoid these scams are to go with your gut instinct. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. If they try to rush your relationship, and quickly ask you for money, be careful. These stories have been on the news and documentaries for the past few years. Sadly, that hasn’t stopped the scammers for using the same tactics to con people into handing over all their money, leaving them with an empty bank account and a broken heart.

Other Scams

There are many methods that scammers use to con people. They may say you got a job and that they will send you a check to get started, only to send a counterfeit check. They post things for sale on ebay or Craigslist. You send them the money, and find out that there was never really anything for sale. There’s also websites that say that they have the answer to making millions, if you pay them. The list goes on and on.

As we learn more about ways that people are being scammed, we are able to learn how to avoid being taken. Sometimes it's hard because they know how to tell us what we want to hear, what we need to hear. If only you give them your money, you will live your dream life. Be cautious of anybody that says they have all the answers. Don’t act on emotions, if it doesn’t seem right, trust yourself. Your dream job and the love of your life is out there. And you never know, you may randomly buy a lottery ticket the next time you fill up your car and find you’ve won a million dollars. But you won’t get any of this from someone who claims to be a prince from Nigeria.

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About the Creator

Judith Jascha

Mom, sister, teacher, student, writer. I love to touch on all areas as I like to expose myself to new things. My goal is to use my experience to entertain and educate.

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    Judith JaschaWritten by Judith Jascha

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