Last week, we published a post about the dangers of scams legal funding companies like The Bairs Foundation face. We were moved to tell a story about a recent encounter in which an attorney was contacted by a man who was allegedly hit by a U-Haul truck. The man needed $189 immediately to prevent eviction. However, when contacted, his landlord said he didn’t know how to use email to send an agreement with the Bairs Foundation. When asked about a bank account to possibly send the funds to, the landlord requested Western Union. Long story short, there was no injured man and no landlord. The entire story was a scam, and luckily, we found the red flags before sending any money.
It’s not just companies that face financial scams. In fact, scammers all over the world target individuals and families who have fewer resources to investigate and validate the transaction before being robbed. Western Union provides warnings and information about fraud on their website. The company explains that thieves will use any means to contact victims: the Internet, the phone, mail, email, anything. Once they gain a person’s trust and lure them in, they take their money and run — and by then, there is very little recourse for the victim. The scams are constantly changing, so just when the public receives warning about the newest types of fraud, scammers find a new way to steal their money.
However, there are a few themes that tend to be present in most scams. An article for The Balance offers the following clues that someone might be trying to scam you out of money:
Wiring money. There is no way to undo a wire transfer, and the money is almost immediately available to the thief once wired.
Unsolicited approaches. A message that seems too good to be true, such as an email promising a substantial amount of money, is most likely a scam.
Buying with something other than cash. Gift cards, cashier’s checks, electronic payments, and other non-cash transactions with a stranger are very dangerous.
Handling payments. If you’re asked to deposit money into your account and then forward it to somebody else to make a commission, it’s likely a scam.
Threats and hyperbole. Scammers sometimes post as the IRS or other authoritative figures, and they might say you’ll go to jail or lose your job if you fail to make “required” payments. Read more warnings specifically about IRS scams here.
Unsecure websites: Secure sites have a lock or “https” in the address bar, which is how users know they can be trusted to protect their information. Unsecure sites can steal your personal details (i.e. passwords and usernames) or financial information (i.e. bank account numbers and credit card information).
Something doesn’t look right. Reputable websites are almost always scrubbed of all errors. Bad spelling and grammar and phony links on a company website or email are a good indication they’re trying to scam users.
Scammers are in the business of stealing people’s money, so their methods are often tricky and they’re good at covering their tracks. When making any transaction online, always do your due diligence to research the situation ahead of time and be on the lookout for the above warning signs. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, and it’s never worth finding out.
About John Bair
John Bair has guided thousands of plaintiffs through the settlement process as co-founder of Milestone Consulting, LLC, a broad-based settlement planning and management firm. Milestone’s approach is comprehensive and future-focused. John’s team has guided thousands of clients by taking the time to understand the complexities of each case. They assess the best outcome and find the path that enables each client to manage their many needs. Read more about Milestone Consulting at http://milestoneseventh.com/.
A West Point graduate where he served as captain and military aviator, John Bair continues his commitment to our country through his efforts within the settlement planning industry. He has represented families of victims lost in the Flight 3407 crash, offered pro bono services to the families of 9/11 victims and drafted the first consumer protection bill for plaintiffs (H.R. 3699).