People who phone to get you to part with money have very smooth tongues and are very convincing. So much so that even when the victim knows it is a scam they can cherish a hope that eventually they will get money.
Some one who was given shares in a well-known local company was called by a very reputable sounding company saying they had found his name in the Share Register and had a buyer for his shares. He checked the company on-line and it had a very respectable seeming web-site. The shares are worth about £3 but the buyer was secretly trying to get control of the company and was prepared to offer £12-£15 per share. Would he be prepared to sell? Yes! And he was sent a letter to sign agreeing to the sale and promising confidentiality.
The next step was to ask him for a bond of £5000 as a sign of good faith. The money would be returned when he sold the shares. He transferred £5000 to a Middle Eastern bank.
Another call comes telling him his shares are specially valuable. The buyer will pay £90 000 for them. However the U.S. Government wants tax paid on this, up-front, before the sale can go ahead. The next call will tell him how much money he needs to send before the shares can be sold.
Once again he checked the web-site and now he noticed a link. This took him to a forum where people recounted their dealings with the scammers. The names of the shares changed but the method was the same. He realised he was a victim of fraud.
The police were not interested but Trading Standards should be informed. They keep a record of the scams they come across in order to warn the public.
Another victim was someone who had signed up to an Internet dating site. She began an e-mail correspondence with a man who sounded like her soul mate. He was working abroad but would soon be visiting Scotland and they could meet.
Then a snag developed.
He would be flying to Scotland a few days before his salary went into his account. Not to worry, she could send him his fare and he would return the cash when he arrived.
Fortunately she did not send him any money. Her dreams were shattered but her money was intact. Had she sent the money she would never have seen him. It might have been a long, lonely wait at the airport.
But, as I wrote, people have their dreams and the scammers are convincing.
If in doubt about a particularly convincing telephone call, e-mail or letter, telephone the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and ask an adviser. It will cost you a standard rate phone call to be informed about what is a scam and then you can be sure you have not missed the chance of a lifetime.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is at 7 Atholl Crescent. Drop in is 10am-12 noon, Monday to Friday or phone 01738 450581 for an appointment in the afternoon. 01738 450580 is the Advice Line. Everything is confidential, even the fact that you visited the bureau.