Scams come in all kinds of ways
October 3, 2019
If you have a computer and you have email you have more than likely been targeted for a scam. They come in all disguises, from telling you you have won a bunch of money but need to send some money to cover certain costs to friends who are either stranded somewhere and need some emergency cash.
Over the past week or so I've received two emails that appeared to have been sent to me by friends. The emails, labeled 'URGENT', said they needed a favor from me. “I need to get a Gamestop Gift Card for my Nephew, it's his birthday today and I totally forgot. I can't do this now because I'm currently on a short trip. Can you help grab one from any store around you? I'll pay back as soon as I am back.”
After I got the second one from a 'different' friend I know, I decided to play along and see where this went.
My first email response was “How much do you need? I've only got $5,000 in my account.”
Within minutes I got a response saying 'Thank you very much'.
That email then told me the amount needed for the Gamestop Gift Card, which I have no idea what one is, was $500. I was told I could go to Walmart, CVS, Kroger, Walgreens or Best Buy to get the card.
“I need you to scratch the back of the card to reveal the pin, then take a snap shot of the back showing the pin with the serial number and forward it to me here on line or his numbers on my behalf 8329151032. Once again thank you very much for this kindness.”
So, I responded again saying “Are you sure $500 is enough?”
I was told yes, that it would be plenty.
So, I go curious and dialed that number to see what would happen. I got a recording saying Google Tone will try to connect me and the phone rang, rang and rang. Then I got a message that the Google person was not available and I needed to leave a message after the tone. I hung up then because I wasn't about to give out a phone number.
I laughed at how stupid this scam sounded from the beginning, but then I got concerned that there may be people out there who fall for such things and go get one of those Gamestop gift cards and send it to who they thought was a friend.
I've gotten several such emails over the years. My favorite is a friend is stranded somewhere, has lost their wallet and doesn't have enough money to get home. They ask me to please wire them some money, it's usually about $500, and they will pay me back when they get back home.
Some have even sounded realistic, but I had a so-called friend stranded in Cozumel, Mexico, one time who I had seen a few hours earlier in Brewton. That must have been a fast cruise ship.
It's laughable on one side, but it's a really serious problem some people fall into. The call may be that they are out of town and at the emergency room with their daughter, but they won't see her because she doesn't have the cash for a co-payment. It could be a friend whose car is broken down and he needs $500 asap to get home.
These so-called friends are people you either email back and forth with or who you chat with on Facebook. Hackers see who you are talking to and try to take advantage of you.
The only fact in any of this is if you fall for such a scam, your money will be gone and your friend will never repay you because he or she didn't send the request in the first place.
Never send money to have somebody send you money you won in a sweepstakes that you never entered; no crown prince from some rich country has picked you to give you a $100,000 because his government is about to be overthrown; no police officer is going to call you and tell you if you don't pay several hundred dollars they will be there soon to put the handcuffs on you.
Things don't work that way. Just be careful.