Why is the con man so good at passing himself off as the most qualified authority on redemptive truth since Pontius Pilot? For the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks, because, "that's where the money is." Money, to the scamsters, is like blood is to sharks. Unlike bank robbers, who rely on gun expertise, get-away cars, and hideouts, the polished con artist rolls the dice based on his self-presumed intellect, charisma, charm, and powers of persuasion. He is boisterous, loud. He pours it on. The result? Now , with the instant, world-wide reach of the internet to aid him, it's an eruption of shell games so severe they can only be described as an epidemic.
If you must blame the messenger, it's the internet. Pure and simple. These charlatans no longer have to toil long hours beguiling the masses in person. Gone are the days when they would merely talk, smile, mislead, fleece and run. Now they can operate entirely from the shadows, the anonymity of the internet. And, they do. More and more and more, as each year passes.
The figures are frightening:
- Escrow scams which averaged $3,000 just 5 years ago are now approaching $10,000.
- Wire fraud which came to some $5,000 an average pop in 2002 now comes in at an estimated $12,000.
- In 2002 the FTC put identity thievery at some 750,000 cases Today they are looking at upwards of 1,000,000. Some estimates go as high as 10,000,000.
These are just a few scare tactics we are using to get you to wake up, smell the coffee, take the medicine--eat the can of cold beef chili if necessary. Armor yourself for the coming onslaught against your good name, established identity, anchored lifestyle, and peace of mind. Do it now. This plague is growing by leaps. So, be assured, as you are reading this, at this very moment it is inexorably coming at you. It will surface, most likely, sometime within your next 10-year future. The ages-old, tried and true "Law of Averages" dictates this.
First protective steps:
1. Wire money in select, rare instances only. Going overboard here could speedily make your primary source of income be the pawn shop. Do this only when maximum research has revealed the safety of it.
2. Forget all kinds of bank transfers for the most part (In some instances bank-to-bank transfers are O.K.) This omission alone, if done en masse, would be a sharp stick in the eye to con men.
3. Never use your debit card online. Set up a "debit block" at your bank. This is locking the barn door well before the horse escapes to freedom.
4. Never send money that you cannot afford to lose overseas. Except, in rare cases, money orders or cashier's check only, preferably just small amounts at any given time. (This is preferable to wiring funds because the extra delivery time gives you, at least, a small window to alert law enforcement authorities if things go immediately afoul.) This will go far toward thwarting eager overseas con men who feast on gullible Americans like Al Capone once did on rival gangsters.
5. Deal only in credit card transactions, watch your statements closely, and at the first sign of trouble, report it to your bank in order to nail down your maximum $50 loss protection. This is not something you can put off.
6. At one time in your life you might have thought to yourself, I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not sure. No place for that kind of thinking here. If you are ever caught up in a costly financial loss due to a scam, don't walk, run to your nearest police station and file a Crime Report. Decisiveness is paramount. All subsequent, meaningful legal actions will spring from this.
7. Never send out by mail or internet--to anyone you have no history of doing business with--vital personal financial information, e.g. bank account numbers, routing numbers, debit account numbers, social security numbers, passwords. Doing this would be boldly going nowhere.
A fool and his money can throw one helluva party. Better to spend your money that way than to feed it to these sharks.
That's probably the way they would spend it, once they parted you from it.
A group of bears is known as a sloth. Sadly, a large portion of our lackadaisical, laid back citizenry also falls under this description. Bears because they sleep half the year away; people because they sleep year around--when it comes to their financial protection, that is. You cannot trustingly await the flowering of moral values among the con man breed. Like it or not, now is the time to swallow a large dose of horse sense. Then mull it. Contemplate it. Act on it.