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Monthly Archives: September 2012

September 2012 ——— Points to Ponder


What is happening in our economy ….. Is it spring time for our property market …… And on the matter of scams – ‘If it is too good to be true” ……..

Dear Readers,

Thanks to all of you for accepting our invitation, for accessing our blog, and for your participation & feedback. Your positive feedback inspires me to explore new ideas & topics. I look forward to more of your active participation.

It is the end of winter and start of spring …… Will September be the beginning of better tidings for our economy in general and the property market in particular …………?
We do not see any specific signs to be very optimistic about.
A subdued world economy relying heavily on ever growing debt and artificial stimulus from governments …….
A slump in commodity prices reflecting weak demand, and a cautious market biding time – unwilling to take risks ………. In short, the economy seems to be treading water, waiting for ‘someone to do something’ to raise ‘confidence’ ……….

And when times are tough, cash flow is constrained …… We all are, sometimes, tempted to let our guard down a little bit – to perhaps not think wisely before we leap …… And if something is too good to be true ………

I recently heard a conversation between an elderly couple discussing loss of money due to an online scam …….
The distress, anger, embarrassment and helplessness I sensed in the couple made me think …..
Later on, bringing up the subject of scams with a few others brought up a wider range of problems out there …. And started me working on this article.

I have tried to cover a wider range of temptations, for most age groups, with the hope of informing and assisting a broader range of readers.

But what has this got to do with money, finance & CleverCall ??? You will be wondering……

As I have mentioned in my previous blog (April 2012), and on the introduction on my website http://www.harionmoney.com.au & http://www.clevercall.com.au, like it or not, money is the other half of everything we do ……. Every transaction we go through in life ……

Too Good To Be True
We all would like to have a little bit more money …… And the easier we can ‘Make’ it or ‘Get’ it, the better ……
And then there is the question ……. what flows more easily – money or water ??? …… We want to spend as soon as we have it ………. Even better …….. Before we have it …….

You might be wondering – But what is wrong with all this ??? We only have one life …… Every day is precious …… Who knows what happens tomorrow …….. Live life today & be happy …… And ‘things’ make us happy ……. And there are a lot of things we want, Right Now ….

So, we want the ‘best bang for our buck’ ……. The smaller our ‘Buck’ and the bigger the ‘Bang’ we get for it, the better. Perfectly true ……..
But we have to keep in mind the old saying – If it is too good to be true ……

The media and its message
Progress, development, technological advancement, information revolution …… In general it has been mostly for the common good of all of us ……
But like most things, Ideas, Inventions, Discoveries, etc. All these things, by themselves, are morally neutral …… Neither good Nor bad …. Only its application – how we use (or abuse) it – has good or bad consequences ……

As mentioned in my July 2012 blog, There is a tremendous amount of ‘Information’ – ‘Noise’ directed at you …… very cleverly targeted ……tempting you with Ideas, Offers, Opportunities, Bargains, Deals …..
And life is hectic, competitive …… And we are tempted to try anything out, give anything a go – ‘Just Do It’ …. As the famous Nike Ad best describes it.

Now let us look at some of the things we come across and how we could deal with them.

For the very young (and young at heart)
Peer pressure & the Mobile phone – ‘Peer pressure’ is an age old concept. We probably are more likely to succumb to it when we are ‘younger & more impressionable’, but all of us, young and old, can be vulnerable to it.
And we all have mobile phones & devices with cameras ….. Even starting at the age of 9 ???

“Do this if you want to be ‘Cool’ ….. To ‘Fit Into the group’ ……. Easy money to be made, nobody will know about it” ……

It could be a ‘Dare’ to impress your mates, a bet (money) if you dare do something you would normally not do – Alcohol, Drugs, ‘Modelling’, ‘Escorting’ …… Many more temptations & inducements out there.

Social Media – And then, to compound your folly, and to broadcast this to the whole world, in many cases destroying reputation ….. Not knowing who has the information/content, what is being done with it ….. And you may end up having no control on it …….
Anybody & almost everybody have access to this tremendous tool at their disposal – Welcome to the age of Social Media.
Hacking, intrusion & distortion of your personal web space/content, stealing your money online, identity theft, fraud committed using your name/identity …………. All of this is possible.
Predators – Offering Friendship, Romance, Relationship, access to your most cherished dreams & wants (Cars, Careers, Instant Fame & Fortune, Holiday destinations, etc.) …..
“Saw you on ….. You look awesome ….. Desperate to meet you …… (Usually with a fake photo & flattering details) ….. Meet me at” …..

Students – You aspire (or have been convinced by your parents/well-wishers) to further education beyond high school …… Most probably financed by a big student loan …..
And there is the ongoing cost of University – Fees, Transport, Food & clothing, and lifestyle …….

Some of your mates are already in the workforce, have plenty of ‘cash in hand’, cars, clothes, food, friends & parties ….. And you are tempted ……..
“Wish I could have my education, and my mate’s lifestyle too … Right Now”

There are many tempting, attractive, ‘Easy’ offers out there, shouting at you …..

Downloading Content, Data, Software, etc. without legal consent or paying for it ….. It could get you into legal hassles, and also could be a way to breach your device & take control / misuse it.
“You are a winner!!!!! – ‘Congratulations, You have won the latest Gizmo ….. Just send us a hefty processing & postage fee, ASAP”…. and probably never hear from them again.
You may get offers of ‘Borrowing (or outright theft) your identity’.
Or it could be ‘That Dream Scholarship / Aid’ (Apply here and pay ‘Processing Fee’, Now, or miss out)
Or offers for ‘Easy Student Loans’ (‘Pay hefty Fee Upfront, Now, or miss out’).
Or that ‘Dream accommodation / Rental Place’, so cheap, (Pay hefty deposit/advance, Now, or miss out)
Or offers of ‘Dream job for Students’ (selling fraudulent products/services, raising money for non-existing causes, etc.). And we haven’t even started on the ‘Work from Home’ Scams out there …….

‘Job’ opportunities – You are young, innocent, full of energy, need money desperately, and job opportunities are hard to come by ……… A perfect mixture for scamsters …….

Be it ‘Work from Home Schemes’ – Call this ‘Special Number’ for more information (high cost per minute charges).
Or ‘Processing & Editing Emails’ (pay hefty ‘training fee’, never hear from them again … or get instruction to spam/forward emails to everyone & anyone – breaching spamming laws).
Or ‘Offshoring / Outsourcing Services Business’ (pay hefty fees for start-up/training/software, never hear from them again …or getting a list of non-existing/not interested ‘Ready to Employ’ businesses).
Or ‘Your Computer Turned into a Money Machine’ (Email/Data processing – Spamming).
Or ‘Chain Letter & Envelope Stuffing’ – Prepare, process and post envelopes for cash …. (Pay hefty material & training costs Now, and never hear from them again).

For families (especially stay home mothers) – On top of most of the scams mentioned above there are many more targeted at you – stuffed into your mailbox, emails, in magazines ……..

Lottery & Award scams – ‘You (or your kids & family members) have won this exotic Lottery ….. Probably many Millions ……. We need your bank account details along with processing & transfer fees …… Immediately ….. Don’t miss out …… Don’t tell anyone’ ……You will probably never hear from them again, and find some money missing from your bank account.

The Nigerian (and many other Callithumpian) Letter Scam – ‘I am the Son/Daughter of His Highness/Excellency ……… I have inherited Zillions …… But cannot get this money out due to political problems in my country ……. You are the chosen one to help me get this money out …… This is top secret/confidential ……. We need to get this done by yesterday ……You will get a big cut of my assets, probably Millions, if you help me succeed ……. Send me your bank account details ASAP ….. And don’t tell anyone’ ……. You will probably never hear from them again, and find some money missing from your bank account.

Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), also variously called ‘Network Marketing’, ‘Consumer Direct Marketing’, ‘Pyramid Schemes’, ‘Ponzi Schemes’ – Usually involves buying & selling products/services, building a network of participants, expanding and deepening networks/participant base, expectations of multiple sources of revenue & income, Uplines & Downlines, etc.
“Time Freedom, Unlimited Income Possibilities, Perpetual & Residual Income Potential” ……. These are some of the catch-phrases you may come across frequently.
A sobering thought – I recently came across a research finding on these schemes ….. Up to 99.7% of participants will probably lose money, and give up …….

Read books & Make Money – ‘We know you are an expert reader of children’s books, or Cookbooks, etc. ….. Use your expertise to earn megabucks ….. Book editors job ….. No experience needed ….. Work from the comfort of your home’ …… (Pay hefty start-up fee …… and never hear from them again).

For the elderly – The most vulnerable, in many cases rich in assets but limited cash-flow, craving companionship / attention, technologically less able, more trusting/obedient towards ‘Authority & Officials’, prone to keeping cash at home, prone to diminished memory, reluctant to report/complain …… You are prime targets for scamsters.
Most of the scams listed above also affect the elderly. There are many more ….. A few of them listed below.
Fake ‘Official’ letters/correspondence from utilities, government departments, etc. – ‘Your telephone / power supply / water / gas / etc. needs to be inspected/rectified/replaced …….. Our staff will visit you on …….. Please co-operate & follow directions’ ……. A fake turns up (or sometimes an errant employee) and demands a hefty fee for service (best case scenario) …… Or might demand & steal money & property (worst case scenario) ………
Attractive Lady / Gentleman needs companion – A nicely written letter, with attached attractive photo …. ‘I am ….. from ….. looking for a life companion ….. Ready to join you immediately ….. Please sent preparation & Airfare costs immediately’
Child needs urgent medical attention – A heart rendering letter, with heavy technical jargon, many doctors/expert opinion & comments, with dramatic photos attached ….. ‘This child will die within …. It is in your hands to save it …… send money immediately’
Fake/Non-existent products (sometimes samples not meant for sale), mostly health & medical related, ‘Sold’ to the elderly at exorbitant prices.
Unnecessary and/or fraudulent medical services, tests, procedures – prescribed, conducted and billed.
Elderly person’s identity used fraudulently to obtain prescriptions, medication & drugs.

Telephone & Telemarketing Scams – ‘This is ….. Senior Bank Manager …. Your account needs to be inspected/checked/audited immediately to prevent loss of funds …… Please provide your password’
Or, ‘I am calling from ….. Charity ….. Need urgent funds to save ……Please transfer fund immediately’
Or, a sweet talking Con with a modified version of the Fake ‘Official’, the ‘Attractive Lady / Gentleman’, ‘Child needs urgent medical attention’ story.
Or, ‘This is …. Calling from ….. Bank/Investment Corporation ….. Exclusive investment opportunity ….. Highly Confidential ……. Need to act by Yesterday …… Need you to deposit funds immediately …… Do not tell anyone’ …..

Internet Scams – Many of the elderly are now on the net ….. And are vulnerable to all of the internet based scams listed above. Being less tech savvy they are prone to additional scams.
Fake Email Alerts – ‘This is …. From ……. Systems ….. We have identified a serious problem with your Hardware/Software ……. Critical …… Action needed immediately …….. Need access to your Passwords & account details’.
Computer taken over – Hacked & accessed – Threatening warnings & messages …… Possible theft of personal & banking details.
Or, Phone call from ‘XYZ Systems’ ….. ‘Could you please confirm that you are ….. Your Home address …….. We have identified a serious problem with your Hardware/Software ……. Critical …… Action needed immediately …….. Need access to your Passwords & account details’.

Conclusion
I will start with an old saying – ‘No one can fool us without our consent’ ……………….

‘What do We want – Everything ….. And when do we want it – Now’ ……..
And we believe that ‘Things’ can make us happy, important, respected, loved ……….
And the more ‘Things’ we have the better ………
And everyone is doing ‘it’ (or you feel they are), and so it should be right ……..

Hari’s Health Tip – A good dose of scepticism with your daily morning coffee could be the best health supplement you would ever take regularly ……..

“But what is the solution …… How can we eliminate this problem ?????? What is the answer ?????” …. You would be wondering, impatiently …………

Patience my friends ……. Cons, and their schemes, in one form or the other, has been with us since time immemorial ………. And is here to stay.
Eliminate it ???? An ambitious thought indeed …… I suspect it is not possible …….

Solution ? We have only scratched at the surface of the problem ……. I will address this in coming articles.

What are your thoughts on all of this ?
What is your experience ?
Come, join the discussion, share your ideas & experiences ……. And we shall start looking at solutions together. I suggest we look at possible solutions under two broad headings …… Prevention, and Cure.
But I am jumping the gun ………..

Let me throw open the discussion to you. I look forward to your opinion, counter argument, response, constructive criticism, feedback, etc.

Looking forward to hearing from you …………

Hari

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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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