Get real

Avoiding scams ought to be cooperative common sense effort

I t was the first time a scammer has attempted to use The Rockdale Reporter as a vehicle to steal money from someone, and to echo Queen Victoria, “we are not amused.”

Last week a fax came in to The Reporter addressed to a local woman, sort of.

It was supposed to be from an Internal Revenue Service agent. However it also identified the local recipient as an employee of the IRS. Made no sense.

Frankly, as scams go, it wasn’t even a very good one. It told her she had won either $15.5 billion or $15.5 million dollars in the “Gold Rush Lottery Sweepstakes.” The writer wasn’t very sure how many zeroes went after the 15.5.

It said participants were selected from computer balloting, mainly from “the United State which includes the North America.”

You’d think the real IRS might be a little bit more sure of the details, such as getting the name of its country and phrasing of its continent correct.

It asks, of course, for a lot of personal information, which would then be used to contact the victim and steal as much of her money as possible.

The last page is a photo ID of an “FBI special agent,” for some reason. The FBI was not mentioned in the rest of the fax and the name on the photo ID is not the name of the “sender from IRS.”

We all had a good laugh about it. Then it got less funny. A customer showed up asking for the fax. We wouldn’t give it to her. It would, of course, have been morally wrong to help someone steal money from a customer.

Every week The Reporter runs a column by former Milano ISD Supt. Ted Hubert warning people about scams. Many of the scam attempts are so poorly crafted as to be ludicrous, like this one. But you can only say “if it sounds too good to be true, it is” so many times.

It’s a two-way street. The potential scam victim has got to help, too. Common sense has got to kick in.

Or at least, we would hope so.—M.B.

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2011-02-10 digital edition

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