If it sounds too good to be true...

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By Geoff Hamill

I have little sympathy for some victims of identity theft. Not all, because some people simply have their private information stolen, and there’s little or nothing they could do to prevent it. I’ve even had someone hack into my bank account on the Internet, so I know it can happen to anybody, no matter how careful you think you might be.

Then there’s the other group. The greedy people. The ones who think they’re going to get something for nothing, and they send information out willingly to strangers, hoping to cash in on some scheme to get rich quickly. They might as well have their banking information broadcast on national television.

I get tons of junk e-mail, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Some of it is just unwanted advertising, trying to convince me of someone’s opinion on a political matter or the sell me something I or nobody else in the world really needs. Then there are the good ones. The e-mails nobody in their right mind could possibly believe. Well, almost nobody.

I see people on TV more often than I should, telling their story of woe to a reporter about how they replied to an e-mail or postal offer and were taken for everything they have. It sounded so good, it had to be true! The victim can’t imagine there being a scam to an e-mail promising to give hundreds of thousands of dollars, all because “your name appeared on our list” or “you have been identified as the only living relative of the victim of a tragic accident.”

It’s sad that people fall for these things, but even worse is when you get several, which I have, and look at how poorly the message is written. Almost every message like this I receive is in broken English, telling me “I am happily contact you to telling great fortune in finances.” or “The World Bank Group and United Nation have given the irrevocable approval order to release your entitlement/award payment worth $8.3M USD with the United Nation to your nominated bank account.”

Really? A genuine irrevocable approval order? Just for me?

I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get the deposit into my bank account. Why, I’ll buy all sorts of things for my friends this Christmas. After all, my bank account was nominated, and I’ve been selected!

Funny thing about this e-mail is, although they have selected my bank account and appear to have all of the proper information about me, they still need me to send them, you guessed it, my bank account number.

All I have to do is reply to this e-mail, which goes to some strange looking address that ends in “.stm” or some other suffix, and appears to go anywhere but the “United Nation.” If I send my bank information, drivers license number or any other information to these people, I figure I’ve got whatever I get coming to me, and I’ll be willing to bet you it’s not that $8.3 million they’ve promised me.

Christmas is just around the corner. The economy is bad, and people are looking for ways to make extra money for all the shopping they have ahead. Don’t be the fish that bites on this obviously artificial bait. Keep your money, buy what you can afford, and don’t be greedy!