Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quintessential Quackery 3/25/09

Quintessential Quackery

When it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.



P.T. Barnum said "There's a sucker born every minute" and he set out to prove it. When he had his zoo he posted a sign saying "this way to the egress." People went through the door to see the egress and found themselves out on the street. If you promised your kid to let him see the performing monkeys, you had to go around and pay another admission price to get back in. It was a cheap trick. (Quack. Quack)

Here are some classic egress lines, some red flags that everyone should be suspicious about: "congratulations" "this is your lucky day" "no hidden fees" "as you are a valued customer" "time is running out" "you have been selected" "no money down" "we will not be undersold" "at no further expense" "here is your chance to win...." (quack, quack) I know I've left some out. I welcome any reminders.

Then there's the American Express contest where you can win the Grand Prize!! You're so busy pasting labels here and there that you don't notice the little box in the corner which if you don't check you end up with a magazine subscription you don't want.

But one of the biggest scams is the "you have been awarded" quack. I got 4 of these. I was hoping to get more so I could make a scrap book.

For example: I have here a check made out to me for $4,975, drawn on an Alabama bank. The check has an illegible signature. The accompanying letter has a fake heading with a Seattle address (it's an office building). The letter tells me that I have been awarded $1,375,000 and the enclosed check is to HELP ME pay for registration and insurance fees. It's signed by one person and lists another person's phone number to call to start accessing my "award." The envelope has no return address and it has a Canadian stamp. If I deposited that check I would be stuck. (quack, quack)

The terrible thing is that some people fall for that fiction and end up sending away their life savings thinking they are going to get the million they've been "awarded." And if they stop sending money, the vagrants will threaten to come and take it.

It's unfortunately important for everyone to be cautious, skeptical and suspicious. Otherwise you may find yourself out on the street, a sitting duck. (Quack, Quack)

If it looks like a quack, and sounds like a quack, it's a quack.

DB - The vagabond

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