Tuesday, May 12

Money scams

While we were down at Tim's parents' house this weekend, I discovered a new money scam is out and about. I learned about this because a friend of Tim's was nearly a victim.

It's a twist on the Nigerian ruler email. Tim's friend received a $5,000 check and a letter from a mystery shopping company. Or so the business claimed. It explained that she had been chosen to perform some mystery shopping. It instructed her to deposit the $5,000 in her account. (Of course, it advised her to keep all receipts, and her costs would be reimbursed.) She should then go to a UPS store and wire $1,750 back to the company. She would, naturally, get to keep the remaining $3,250.

This is probably the only time someone was saved by not having a bank account. Instead, she called Tim's mom, asking about mystery shopping. She was told it was a scam and to leave it alone.

As a reminder, you should never, ever have to cash someone else's check as part of a mystery shop. In addition, don't ever pay for mystery shopping programs. You can always refer to my list of mystery shopping companies or check into Volition and other free resources.

But this by-mail scam isn't the only new one around. Plenty of folks have been getting recorded messages about money they're due (or, at least, can get) thanks to Obama's stimulus package. Plenty of online ads hint around that, too.

Folks always seem to forget the cardinal rule: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But people insist on believing that there is such a thing as a successful get-rich-quick scheme. I understand that it's not only greed, but also desperation in times like this. But anyone who would believe that she could get paid $3,250 for a mystery shop is being willfully myopic.

Have you seen any new scams? Have you ever been tricked into something like this?


Blogger DogAteMyFinances said...

I find these stories baffling. I have no idea who would fall for this. Or, worse, who would actually fall for the Nigerian email one. But there are still people today sending tens of thousands...

That said, I think there's a special place in hell for people who craft schemes like this and send out their lies until some idiot bites.

May 12, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Blogger BikerPuppy said...

This one is a twist on the "You won the UK Lottery!" scam. Anytime you have to send money to get money, it's a scam. Many of them say it's to cover the taxes, etc. The taxes should be deducted from the check sent, not reimbursed.

May 12, 2009 at 10:34 AM

Blogger Abby said...


I'm with you. I never understood how people fall for these. I think it's often greed. We want to believe we can get rich in a snap. Maybe some folks honestly are that desperate. But I think anyone who was truly that desperate would be wary of sending any money anywhere.

BikerPuppy (hey, two dogs commenting so far!),

Ugh, I get at least three of those a day in my spam folder/inbox. I wish folks would knock it off. But I suppose all it takes is one sucker, eh?

May 12, 2009 at 12:31 PM

Blogger Donna said...

Remember too that some of the recipients could be suffering from early onset dementia or could be people with developmental disabilities. It sounds ¨real¨to them.
And some people are just impossibly naive. ¨Hey, they sent me a $5,000 check and all I have to do is give back $1750 of it...I´m rich!!!¨
The shotgun approach works. If you mail out 1 million of these things and even 1 percent fall for it, boy, have you made your money back.

May 12, 2009 at 1:40 PM

Blogger Shevy said...

I got a variation on the Nigerian scam the other day. It was (apparently) from a woman and originated in Thailand, although the person claimed to be from somewhere else.

The story was that her parents were killed in a plane crash a year ago along with a bunch of other government higher ups and her evil uncle stole all her dad's money. Then she discovered money that he hid in Spain and she wants me to help her get it.

Pretty much the same old, same old right? Yeah, except for the part where she wanted me to "marry" her (but she'd remain 'like a sister' to me) so she could come here and we could live off the millions.

Considering that I'm female (and married already, thanks) I thought it was hilarious.

May 12, 2009 at 1:50 PM


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