If It Sounds Too Good To Be True...

In the news recently was the story of a woman who got caught up in the old "Nigerian Scam" and lost $400,000. The Nigerian Scam in essence is an email swindle where a victim will receive a message promising them millions of dollars if they will only help out with a little money up front.

This scam has been around for a LONG time. Anyone who has had a "free" email address account for some time has probably received something similar in their e mail box. What was interesting was the variation on the theme that lured the reported individual into mortgaging her house, taking out a lien on the family car, and running through her husband's retirement account. First of all, the scammer's identified themselves as an actual relative by name. Next, they started out asking for only $100. Then they began sending "official" forged documents from the bank of Nigeria and the United Nations. Pretty soon, she was hooked even though her bank and family members repeatedly told her it was a scam.

It would be wonderful if life was full of "Cinderella Stories" and opportunities where someone actually gets millions of dollars for being generous and helping someone out. It is unfortunate that there are people in this world that take advantage of people's good nature. A couple of "take aways" and reminders after reading this story:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This sounds so pessimistic, but it's a correct guiding principle. If someone is telling you that you can make a six figure salary working from home only 2 hours per week, some alarms should go off in your head.
  • Do some research first and listen to trusted advisers and members of your family. Check out http://www.snopes.com/. You can search the Snopes database for scams or "urban legends" and see if an offer/story is legitimate. It is amazing that recently (as recently as 2 days ago) that people will still forward a "scam e mail" to their whole email contact database, thinking that Bill Gates will send them $100 per email address. Do your homework.
  • Don't invest what you can't afford to lose. If you are going to lend someone money or invest in a "new opportunity" make sure you do it with a strong conviction that this is money you are willing to lose forever. What impact will investing your money have if you lose it? If it means you won't be able to retire or fulfill dreams you have had for 40 years... don't do it!

In general, we all have to work very hard for our money. We should work just as hard at protecting it and spending it wisely.