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Helping Others Can Be Dangerous: Tales of Online Schemes

Helping Others Can Be Dangerous: Tales of Online Schemes

Every day a new scam alert is sent out through different media channels.  The internet is full of fraud and scam warnings and horror stories.  Many organizations that fight crime use their own websites, social media profiles and contact newspapers and media to warn people about a new kind of scam out there.  So why is it that with all the warning signs, and all the information out there, the fraud risk and reported number of incidents continues to rise?  The simple fact is that criminals evolve and change their tactics used on a normal basis, and often the warning signs become outdated or ignored.

What you really need to know is some warning signs or red flags.  This way, whenever you feel that something may not be right, you can contact a private investigation company or law enforcement agency for advice, and for options on how to verify the individual or company.

Most of the online criminals use the same modus operandi: they touch your heart. Emotion is so powerful, that it is the most important input of all, and they will always use it again you.  Be skeptical and protect your private information.  Sometimes criminals go after your private data to steal your identity or commit another type of crime against, such as blackmail and countless others.  Don’t think that just because a person or company hasn’t asked you for money that you can’t be a victim of scam or worse crime.

Here are some of the most common schemes that you should be aware of:

A family member is sick, we need your help.

Nobody likes sickness or death. When you are put in the position where you can “save a life” by paying a hospital bill, you probably won´t hesitate. The request to help someone who´s sick might come from an email, or someone you met online and you already think you know and trust. Nevertheless, it is often a scam.   Some internet criminals will spend months getting to know you and gaining your trust before such a tragic event takes place.  If someone requests money, get a background check.

Natural disaster has struck, we need assistance.

Yes, your donations are helpful when a natural disaster has devastated a community, but no real and respected aid agency will email you asking for donations. Before acting out of compassion, use your reasoning and be skeptical. Get informed on which international organizations are receiving donations and how to send the money safely to a trusted name. Be skeptical, check their previous history, look what kind of things people say online about this organization and read what media advises.

An American citizen in trouble overseas.

A soldier who was left abandoned somewhere in the world, a business man on a trip who got all his money and documentation stolen. The story changes all the time, but the bottom line is always “help me, I´m stuck and I´ll pay you back when I get home”. There might be people having a bad time in other countries, with stolen passports and no money. But it´s hard to believe they will contact you, out of the blue, instead of the embassy or a family member. Never send money to anyone you’ve met via the internet without a professional background check to verify the individual to be safe from fraud.

All of the above have variations: a priest who needs help for the orphanage he manages in Africa, a hard working mom in the Philippines who has a sick child, an online boyfriend from South Africa, Ghana, Malaysia or Nigeria who had a car accident. There are so many different ways to lure you into giving “financial aid”, that the list is endless. But before helping, make sure it is not a scam!

When meeting people from the Philippines, especially in online dating, always verify first rather than later.  Too many victims realize they’ve been scammed when it’s too late.  Get a background check early to minimize your risk.  Read how scammers operate so you’re informed and ready.

If you’ve met someone online, contact us today for a free and confidential quote.

C. Wright
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