Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Ventura Police Department weighs in on the Mills fax scam letters

Of course, the main reason that people in the United States pay attention to Ruby Addo and Samuel Kofi Atta Mills is because of a fax scam that has been circulating in various forms for some time.

And around the time (September 10) that I first began writing about the scam, a number of people in the city of Ventura, California began receiving these faxes also. By September 12, the Ventura Police Department issued a warning about the Samuel Kofi Atta Mills fax scam, and also about all other scams of this type. Here is part of that warning from the Ventura Police Department:

The vast majority of individuals who receive such a fax/letter realize the correspondence is a scam and do the right thing by not responding and simply discarding the letter. Scams of this nature, and similarly related scams (e.g., Lotto, Sweepstakes, Mystery Shopper Opportunities, “Grandparent” Scam, etc.) ultimately work because they prey upon people’s ambitions, vulnerabilities, and emotions. Unfortunately some individuals do provide the information requested by the scammer and in turn lose their money and/or become victims of identity theft in one form or another.

Although there is some variation to each particular scam, the premise of each is fairly consistent – that is, in one way or another you are asked to provide personal data, send money, or cash a fraudulent check. Whatever the set-up, the results are always the same for the victim – they end up having their identity compromised, and/or losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in these scams.

Below are some helpful tips to recognize a possible scam:

Ask yourself these questions:

o Does it look to good to be true? Then it probably is.

o Does the text reflect a poor command of the English language? Here’s an example from another letter, “We are therefore with great pleasure to notify you that your e-mail address once again, happened to come out top number (1).”

o Are they asking for money or personal information?

o Is there a sense of urgency to the letter, or are they insisting you must “act now” or lose a good opportunity?

o Did you initiate contact with this company or individual? For example, are you being notified that you won a contest you never entered? Unsolicited offers are often questionable.

o Are there errors or inconsistencies in the information provided? For example, does the letter list a company address in one country/state while the check issued is from a company in a different country/state?

Most of these questions sound obvious and a good dose of common sense is usually good enough to keep you from being a victim. However, the crooks that perpetrate these kinds of scams only do so because they are successful at it and it pays for them.

The faxes, letters, e-mails, and phone calls often sound legitimate and can be very convincing. If in doubt, shred the mail, hang up the phone, delete the e-mail, or refuse to open the door to your home to someone you don’t know and trust.
blog comments powered by Disqus