If it looks too good to be true, it probably is

Many of us are extremely careful when it comes to protecting our money and personal information, but scams are made to look and feel like they are the”real thing’, which sometimes makes it hard to recognize them even for the most cautious people out there.

And while some scams look obviously illegitimate (for example, emails claiming that you have won millions of dollars in some European lottery, or even The Nobel Prize – yes, I have received that myself!), other ones keep being perfected to look more and more real, and therefore, making it easier for scammers to trick innocent hard-working people.

The Consumer Protection website lists all the latest scams that have been reported, and some of them sound absolutely terrible, proving that there are people who work very hard to illegally part you with your money:

Scammers posing as ‘Murder Agents’ are targeting New Zealanders with disturbing emails. The recipient is told that somebody close to them has hired a contract killer to settle a betrayal. The alleged killer claims to be watching the person’s every move. They demand payment in return for sparing the person’s life, and instruct them not to tell anybody.”
Victims receive a phone call from an overseas call centre and are told that they have been chosen to receive money from a ‘John Key scheme’. Victims are asked to fill in a form and send $149, via Western Union, to claim their ‘fund’. They are then instructed to go online to download a piece of software. The software launches malicious software onto their computer. This gives scammers remote access to the victim’s computer files.’
Police are advising people to lock their post boxes and to write cheques in black ink or gel pen. This comes on the back of an elaborate money laundering scheme targeting South Auckland. Fraudsters are stealing cheques from post boxes, using chemicals to remove the handwritten ink and convincing victims to convert them into cash through the victims’ bank accounts.’

Why do scams work? They engage our emotions and speak to needs and desires, or rely on vulnerabilities. They target people of all backgrounds, income levels and ages; and any of us might become a victim at any given moment.

In our next article, we will discuss the ways of protecting ourselves against scammers, especially when it comes to safeguarding personal details online.

Disclaimer: The above information is general in nature and not intended to be advice. You should consider seeking professional advice before following any suggestions in this blog/website.