More and more scammers are out there trying to get something for nothing, and the sad fact is that it is often the elderly who fall for their tricks.
This has come to home to me in the last couple of years as my mother has fallen foul of one dodgy scam after another. First it was buying stuff she did not need at inflated prices so she would be put into a draw and win money.
Then she was bombarded by letters saying she had won prizes of thousands of pounds and all she needed to do was send £50 administration fees.
Now neither of these sound like they would be that serious but when you are talking about multiple instances it soon adds up. We discovered that she had sent more than £1500 to these criminals.
But the worst individual instance was recently when she was apparently called by the Canadian lottery who needed £4900 in tax before they could release her third prize of £265k!
It seems that however much we tell her about scammers, and how all of these schemes are bogus, she just does not seem to take it in. I think the trouble is that these scammers are so persuasive that they suspend their victims’ disbelief.
But it is not just the elderly who fall foul of con artists. It is anyone who is a little bit vulnerable, or is going through a hard time, or is just unwary – and that can apply to business people as well.
Phishing scams can be as much a problem for small businesses as for individuals and can lead to your banking information falling into criminal hands.
However, the most dangerous scam is where a fraudster contacts a business pretending to be a supplier. They inform the company that there payment details have changed and the unsuspecting business owner/employee amends the supplier payment details on their system so that any payments go to the scammer and not the supplier.
The moral of all this is that we must be extra vigilant, and unfortunately, become ultra suspicious. We also need to help our more vulnerable family members and friends to understand that you don’t get something for nothing these days (if you ever did) and not to send money to anyone just because they ask you to!