It looked like any other email I might receive, except for one thing. It was from a friend and neighbor I had not seen or heard from in over a decade. And, although she was a friend, our friendship was not a close, personal one of the kind that would include the exchange of money.
It seems from the message that she and others (family?) were on a trip to the Philippines on a concert tour (she is a musician) and lost all their credentials and wallets. (Hmmm, my senses began to tingle) Could I forward to her around $2000 as a loan until she came back home? (I no longer live anywhere near “home.” )
Obviously, her name and email address have been stolen, not her luggage and her wallet. It’s a scam.
One of the downsides (there are many) of our technological age is anonymity of this kind. I can’t see the sender. There is no way to assure myself that this is legitimate. Internet and telephone fraud is a growing industry, and I am one of those people who is on someone’s list. I get this kind of scam message two or three times a week, usually from Liberia, or some other African country. I have inherited money from some unknown relative who died. Somebody has decided that I am the kind of decent person who deserves a windfall. I’ve won the national sweepstakes. Or…my friend is in trouble and is desperate and needs my money.
Scam appears to be a word that came into our language in the 1960’s when technology was on a roll. There is no place of origin noted. I suspect we don’t have to go very far from home to know where it came from. It’s meaning seems clear, however, and there’s no need to worry about people not understanding what you mean when you use the word.
To scam is to practice fraud, which is a crime. Millions of dollars are spent annually by government agencies, industries, and police departments pursuing frauds. Courts are tied up in litigation, and individuals, themselves, lose time, money and patience trying to recover their lost funds. It is a serious element in our society, and just one of the many things that needs to be fixed in our entry into the age of technology. It isn’t going to get better without a serious, coordinated effort.
In any case, I didn’t send any money to my acquaintance from past years. If she is laboring away in her hotel room in the Philippines, she will have recognized by now that her financially comfortable family is a better way to go. I’m not worried. She’s too smart for this to have been a real message from her.
To the people who sent the scam message: shame on you. Some vulnerable persons are going to fall for your fraud. They don’t deserve it.
Cartoon Credit: Rental Scams