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Is this a scam?

What differentiates you from a Scammer? Probably your kindness or compassion. These are noble qualities that most humans possess and display. Scammers will consider this as your weakness and ruthlessly try to exploit it.

How? Here are 5 ways…

1. In Trouble Abroad. Your relative or friend seems to have sent you an alarming e.mail, advising that they have been mugged whilst in a foreign country. They need you to urgently send them some money via Western Union to help them through the next day or 2, whilst they obtain a replacement passport and deal with the aftermath. Your heartstrings are tugged as you imagine and empathise with your poor, bewildered, stranded friend/relative. Of course, this robbed-on-holiday scam e.mail has been sent from a hacked e.mail account to all of its owner’s contacts, including you. Your relative or friend is probably sat in front of their TV, oblivious and scoffing chocs!

2. Romance Scam. Are you lonely? Well, you only have to register on a free dating site and the chances are that you will soon attract some slim, gorgeous young admirer overseas, who will want to immediately engage you in Instant Messaging (IM Chat) offsite. After days (or longer) they will soon fall in love with you and begin their pleas for money. Sick children, fake travel agents and visa fees to meet you, the list is endless. Sadly, that svelte young thing in the (stolen) pics is never going to end up between your sheets. If you do online date, read for more information on staying safe.

3. Refugee Scam. You receive an e.mail from a poor refugee, often a teenager, desolate in the harsh conditions of their camp. Through a terrible misfortune (war, insurrection, death of parent/s, etc) they need your help to rescue them from their misery. In return, they will share with you the millions of dollars they – somehow – will have access to, once liberated. ‘Refugee camp’, your eye! The sender will doubtless be a well-fed crook, sat at home typing his e.mails one-handed whilst smoking and stuffing his face with fast food.

4. Dying Widow. Well, usually. Occasionally, it is a man on his deathbed. Regardless, they have millions to invest in philanthropy but since they are about to die (usually from cancer) they have – wait for it – chosen YOU to help them invest it (or etc). As you go through the motions, surprise, surprise! A fee is required (to pay a Barrister/courier/customs officer/insert your own here). Forget it. More information on the “Dying Widow scam” can be found here

5. Adopt a Pet. Just look at those poor little Puppies! Big brown eyes stare mournfully out of your monitor as you browse the website: “Please give us a home!”. You found the site through a link in an unexpected e.mail offering you these cute little English Bulldogs. Just send a few hundred dollars via Western Union and your doggy will be sent air freight to your door. Cute little puppies for sale? Errr….no. The Scammer that sent you the e.mail probably has only a goat grazing outside his West African shack. Go to your local Animal Rescue Centre and give them your money.