Are You Being Scammed?

with Joanne Edwards
Fotos: Zeichnung: MasterSergeant –, Porträt:

We all like to think that it would never happen to us, but millions of innocent people are being scammed out of all their hard-earned money and the situation is getting worse. We have all heard of the nephew or grandson trick and ask ourselves how anyone could be so silly as to hand over money to someone, without checking out their story. But they do. In this case, it is usually older people who are being targeted. Someone calls you saying that they are a relative or close friend. They usually start by saying “Hello Grandpa, guess who this is?“ Grandpa usually answers by saying the name – “Is that Paul?“ and the scammer has found the next victim. He will tell grandpa that he has an emergency and needs some money immediately. Usually they say they need the money for bail or a flight back home, after their passport and money have been stolen. He begs grandpa not to tell his parents, otherwise he‘ll be in real trouble and grandpa sends a lot of money to an unknown bank account. If this happens to you, hang up the phone immediately and call a family member for help.

Another scam that is hitting the headlines at the moment is when the fake caller pretends he is calling from Europol. The fraudsters tell their victims that they are involved in a serious crime, because someone has stolen their identity and they must transfer all their money into a Europol account immediately. They use the names of senior Europol staff, like Catherine De Bolle, to sound serious and legitimate. The caller will say that they have found a stolen car in Poland. It is covered in blood and your bank details have been found in the car. The scammer will also use fake letters or emails. Europol say that they would never call citizens regarding such claims or ask them to make payments. Some people have also received such calls from fake police, claiming that you have to pay a fine immediately otherwise you could go to prison. Just hang up immediately and call your local police station. The worst scam of all has to be the online romance scam, where the scammer steals someone‘s identity and photo and pretends to be that person. Thanks to online dating being so easy, many people, usually women who are searching for love, end up with a broken heart and an empty bank account. Last year, in America alone, people lost $600 million to online romance scam artists. The signs that you are texting an online romance scammer are always the same. Older victims are usually targeted by the scammers – and many don‘t realise that they are being scammed until it‘s too late. The person that you are talking to will claim that they are from your country, but are on business in another country or doing military service. They will immediately say that they love you and send you romantic texts every day. They will try to get you off the dating website and ask you for your email address or telephone number so that they can get your personal details. They may ask you to send naked photographs of yourself. Never do this as they will blackmail you later for even more money, threatening to put the photographs on Facebook. They will say that they are coming to visit you and can‘t live without you, but there will always be an emergency at the last minute and they will ask you to send money for a flight ticket or to pay their workers in Africa, so that the African government will pay them millions for the job that they have done. Never, ever send money. Finally, watch the Tinder Swindler on Netflix. Almost all of these scammers are sitting in front of a computer in Nigeria, waiting for your cash.

to be scammed – betrogen werden
innocent – unschuldig
hard-earned – schwer verdient
to get worse – schlechter werden
so silly – so dumm
in this case – in diesem Fall
to target sbd. – jmd. ins Visier nehmen
a relative – ein Verwandter
victim – Opfer
an emergency – ein Notfall
immediately – sofort
bail – Kaution (Gericht)
to beg – inständig bitten
otherwise – andernfalls
to be in real trouble – in Schwierigkeiten stecken
unknown – unbekannt
to hang up – auflegen
to hit the headlines – Schlagzeilen machen
to pretend – vorgeben
fraudster – Betrüger
to transfer – überweisen
legitimate – legitim
regarding – betreffend, bezüglich
to make payments – eine Zahlung leisten
to pay a fine – eine Strafe zahlen
to go to prison – ins Gefängnis gehen
romance scam – Liebesschwindel
empty – leer
to claim – behaupten
on business – geschäftlich
to get you off sth. – von etwas weglocken
naked – nackt
to blackmail – erpressen
to threaten – drohen
government – Regierung