Don't be scammed!

It is hard sometimes to believe that sensible people, often with a “full education” can still be duped into activities on the Internet that end up costing them dearly. No wonder the “victims” express such “shame” when telling their stories.

Earlier this week we published the story of a St. James woman who lost US $902.68 after “purchasing” cheap airline ticket on the Internet for travel to Miami. Reading between the lines, she took a gamble on tickets that were supposedly US $200 cheaper than those on a familiar website — and lost.

In the end she recognised that she did not stand a chance of recovering her money and told Barbados today: “I don’t think there is anything that can be done for me, I feel real bad because everybody telling me that I real stupid that something should have gone off. I feel like a fool, US $902 don’t come so easy.

“AA can’t help me, the bank can’t help me; I feel like a fish out of water and my money swim and gone to England. I suppose to be somebody that got common sense; these things should not happen to me.”

Our aim is not to add to the “shame” of this Barbadian, but simply to remind consumers of the old saying: “If it sounds too go to be true, it probably is”.

We really need to keep our eyes wide open when using the web for anything — but particularly when it involves a transaction that includes our hard earned money. e-commerce specialist in the Ministry of Commerce and Trade, Chesterfield Coppin advised only this week that consumers make it their business to know the features that confirm the legitimacy of a site before undertaking any transactions.

That’s common sense!

Just before the Olympics in London law enforcement agencies were warning persons of bogus sites selling admission tickets to the games. But why would someone so easily hand out money to an entity they don’t know, have never done business with before, have no proof of its authenticity, and can’t point to anyone they know who have done business with them before?

Common sense!

Then there are those people who still get tricked by emails telling them some relative they have never heard of has died and left some huge sum of money, often in the millions, for them and all they have to do to collect it is forward their bank account details to a specified address; or some similar story.

Often the spelling and grammar are way off, there is no letterhead and everything about the email screams “Bogus!” but still some unsuspecting person falls for it.

Now add to that the emails which pop into out mailboxes from time to time, supposedly from someone we know telling us that they are stranded in London, Madrid, Paris or some other city, having had their wallet and travel documents stolen and need US $500 urgently. People still fall for this scam, when a simple email or phone call will verify that the “friend” is safe and sound at home and has not been away from the island for months.

Each day someone is so lucky to be “saved” by the Internet that they are left to remark: “How did we ever manage before this?” It is a wonderful tool, but apparently is it home to predators of all sorts and it is in our best interest to ensure that we are not willing, or unwilling, victims. Fortunately there are enough safeguards that if we use them, backed up by a healthy dose of skepticism or common sense, we will not easily be tricked. Of course, this advise will hardly help the greedy among us who are themselves tricksters and who always believe they are smarter than the other trickster. If you fall into that group, sorry, we can offer you no advice.

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