It seems like there are a million different types of scams and fraud out there, but in reality many of these examples employ similar mechanisms to one another. In effect, there is little difference between a Canadian Lottery scam and a Nigerian 419 Scam.
This means that, instead of filling your head with every single detail of every new variant, there are a few basic rules that can help you steer clear of many common dangers.
Since I already brought up lottery scams, we’ll use that for today’s template:
If you receive an email (or a letter) from a stranger that promises you a large sum of money, you are looking at an attempted scam.
I have yet to hear of a case when this wasn’t true.
Now, sometimes when people want to believe something, they’ll resist any attempts to dissuade, so I feel like some further explanation is necessary.
Let’s look at the word “stranger.” I don’t care if they’ve given their name, contact information and title in the body of that message, if it’s not someone you’ve met before, that is a stranger. It is important to not take this kind of information at face value. Want to know why?
I am the former King of Nigeria. I am also a Canadian Lottery official.
See what I did there? Despite the fact that I have never been a king of any nation or a Canadian anything, I was still able to type those words. Anyone can claim to be anything when they’re contacting you out of the blue. It doesn’t matter if it uses real names, or if it’s written on official-looking paper; there is no physical barrier to claiming to be someone you are not.
This is a pretty goofy point to have to make, but if you’ve got a friend or relative who seems bound and determined to fall for one of these scams, you might have to get into this basic area with them.
The beauty of this template is that you don’t even have to know the details of every form of lottery scam or advance fee fraud to stay safe. If it’s a stranger offering you money, it’s a scam. Think of these scenarios:
- You get a letter that says you’ve won the Canadian Lottery.
- You get an email from a Nigerian prince, currently living in exile. He wants you to help him hide money, and will give you a large sum if you assist.
- You get an email from a solider who claims to have found a large stash of money in Iraq or Afghanistan. He wants you to help him claim this money, and you’ll get a cut.
- You receive an email that says you’ve won the Microsoft Lottery.
Every one of these examples is going to lose you a large amount of money if you follow through with the instructions. Every one of these involves a person contacting you out of the blue and promising a large amount of money. Keep this one basic rule in mind, and you’re safe.