Scams, spams and other things

2016-08-18 06:00

I HAVE won the lottery in unknown countries, received inheritances from distant relatives in the UK and have won tons of SMS competitions I have never entered.

I am officially a “scam and spam” billionaire. I receive at least one SMS a month informing me that I have won R250 000 in a washing powder draw. I have at least five emails from “relatives” in the UK asking me for banking details as I have inherited one million pounds, and I have also won lotteries in countries I have never heard of.

Most of these emails and SMSes come with a link. When you click on the link it takes you to a foreign website and your information is being downloaded by scammers.

People have lost airtime and money from their bank accounts believing these messages to be true. It surprises me that people think they can win competitions they never entered.

I am also surprised that people think they can become rich overnight. I recently read a story about a woman who trusted a “spiritual healer” with R50 000. She was told to put the money in a suitcase and bury it somewhere and to her surprise (really?) the money was stolen the next morning. The man, being the magician that he is, disappeared and could not be reached.

She opened a case at the police station, but I would hate to be the investigating officer on a case like this.

In my quest to understand the thinking behind making a decision to trust an unbelievable mission, I ask the following questions …

Firstly, if you have R50 000 lying around, why not talk to a legitimate source about investments? Why would you give it to a “suitcase man” and bury your hard-earned cash?

Secondly, if that man could turn R50 000 into R100 000, why is he not the richest man on Earth by now?

Thirdly, is desperation to make a quick buck shadowing common sense?

Another scheme-making headlines this year is a “money sharing” one where residents “lend” money to each other while earning ridiculous interest rates on the initial sum pledged.

There is one scam (the name escapes me, but a case was reported) where you pledge R1 000 and the next day you receive R1 500.

I do not understand how this works, but this should be screaming “scam”the minute you read about the returns.

To be honest, when investigating one of these schemes I signed up and wanted to see why people are so naive. During this time I chatted to a woman who was making so much money from one of these schemes that she quit her job and was earning R15 000 a month while being a stay-at-home mom.

The prospect of becoming rich overnight scared me to the point that I left that scheme as I am not sure what I would do with all that money.

Also I work way too hard to be taking a chance with my salary.

I do understand that poverty and desperation plays a big role in people making foolish decisions, but surely if you have spare money there are other things you can do with it.

If you received any of these messages or would like to share your scam or spam story, email
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