Martine Rolls: scammers aim to find you

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Before I started working for the Bay of Plenty Times, and that is awhile ago now, I was employed by a regional not-for-profit organisation based in Tauranga.

I still do my bit for them voluntarily when time allows, as I think it is important to help out where I can.

The best thing about working for charity was, besides trying to make a difference for people in need, that I made some great contacts while representing them.

I still keep in touch with a lot of these like-minded people on Facebook, including the woman who used to manage the Western Bay Volunteer Centre.

I received an email from her the other day, saying that she was on holiday in the UK and had been involved in a terrible accident.

It said she broke her right arm, collar bone and left leg, and that the driver of the car had died in the crash.

It also said that she was fortunate enough to have bumped into a local lad, who had helped them out with their immediate needs, but she had since run out of money and she would appreciate it if I would come to her aid financially.

If you ever get an email like that, alarm bells should be ringing.

First, this woman had left the organisation that the email apparently came from about two years ago, as she had moved out of the Bay to support her whanau in another part of New Zealand.

Second, she would not be travelling around the UK by herself at this point in time and, third, even if she did, she would not do so without travel insurance.

Last but not least, it would be highly unlikely that she would contact me of all people asking for money if she was stuck.

I sent her a message on Facebook to let her know about the scam going on and she was stunned but warned all the people she had in her address book just in case.

People still fall for scams every day. It is sad but true.

A dear friend of mine was selling her house awhile ago and everything seemed to be sweet when a man had made a genuine offer.

She started packing all her belongings in boxes and signed up for a temporary rental.

The real estate agent told her everything was all right and good to go. The guy who had made the offer was just waiting for a few funds to clear.

He was waiting for the details on an inheritance to come through. After that, it took awhile.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

In the end, it was about an inheritance that he had been made aware of through an email that popped up one day on his Hotmail account and he thought it had made his day.

Apparently someone had died in Nigeria and this person carried his last name and had no next of kin, which meant he had a large sum of money coming his way.

Yeah right.

Okay, I am reasonably internet savvy and I do keep an eye on the news and developments in my line of work so I've got a fair idea of what scammers are up to.

I can't call myself gullible. But not everyone is aware of all the online swindles that are going on.

Please, be aware that if a bubbly person calls you out of the blue when you just have your dinner on the table to tell you that you've just won a major prize in some sort of random contest, and all they need is your credit card details to confirm your payments, chances are incredibly high that it is nothing but a load of rubbish.

People who will try to rip you off are always out there. If a thing sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

If you could make a few grand with just one phone call, wouldn't you try? No, maybe not if it was illegal, but a lot of people out there would. No matter the rules and regulations, the internet is still the Wild West.

The examples I gave above may seem obvious but beware, scammers can be clever.

Whatever you do, make sure you check, double check, investigate, research and ask questions if you have to.

The best thing to do if it comes in an email is to just delete, not reply.

For your own good, make sure to never fall for it.

Check this list for a range of known and reported scams.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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