何毓琦的个人博客分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/何毓琦 哈佛(1961-2001) 清华(2001-date)

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Scams, frauds, and Come-on ads 精选

已有 4819 次阅读 2016-4-26 05:31 |个人分类:生活点滴|系统分类:海外观察

For new readers and those who request to be “好友 good friends” please read my 公告first.


In the past decade, there were plenty of stories in the US about big banks  and financial institutions, (AIG), auto companies, (VW) andother major institutions committing major frauds. However, one may think that such events are far  removed from our everyday existence and there wasn’t anything we ordinary  citizen can do about it. However, I wish to stress that there are plenty of  fraudulent schemes, scams, false ads and other come-ons that are aimed  at us every day that   we should be aware of. To be wise about these at the  minimum saves us valuable time, at worst saves us lots of dollars.So here are my lists:

1. Letter from Nigeria or other African countries. The unsolicited e-mail usually  begin like this “ ..  I am the widow of the oil minister of xxx. I need to  deposit some millions of dollars into the US. Can you help me by receiving my wire transfer . . .”

 2. Financial disaster are about to occur and I have the scheme to avoid this.  Typically, the message begin by citing the dot.com market collapse and the 2008 Credit  Defualt Swaps(CDS) fraudulent instrument to gain your confidence. Then the message make up some credible sounding staitistics out of thin air and from  these numbers it concludes the forthcoming debacle that will wipe out your  saving and fortune.However, then the sale pitch comes out at the end of the message that you should subscribe or buy its service/product which will  guarantee you from suffering this disaster . . .

3.   Absolutely free product for you to claim:Yes, they are free provided you also purchase or subscribe something that will cost money. But this little fact is not  revealed  until you finish reading or listening to their entire sales pitch.   By that time, you have wasted a good 10 or more minutes of your  precious time at the minimum.

4. Up to 60% off: This is true except they have jacked up the price before hand so that they can give you the 60% off. If you search a little bit, you can  most probably get the same product elsewherefor the same 60% off except it is the regular price the other site is selling.Furthermore, remember the qualifier “upto” 60% off. The item you want often turns out to be only 10% off.

5. You have unused credit that is expiringin few hours: except I have never heard of or visited that site. The next day you receive the same message again except this time the message says that your credit will expire today. And so on  . . . . The whole point is to get you to visit that site.

6. You have won a free vacation to xxx: To claim this please come to a free  lunch listen to what we have to offer. If you really make up your mind to get  the free lunch but not buy you will subject yourself to relentless sales pitch  which can turn ugly quickly if they senseyou have no intention to buy. Thus, if you think being insulted and publically humuliated is a the price you are willing to pay for a free lunch, go ahead do it. Things will be even more ugly if you accept the free  vacation.  You can literally be held  hostage in your “free” vacation.

7. EB-5 Visa Fraud:  Because of its popularity with the new riches  of China. Fraudulent real estate schemes are propping up.  The latest being the  bankrupt Jay Peak Ski Resort development where they  take your $500,000 but  do not deliver your Greencard.

Just so that you began to think I never fall for these scams,  let me tell you about my own folly. It was more than 40 years ago,  My family and I were staying in London on my sabbatical. My best friend,  Frank Tung http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-1565-511716.html called from the  US that there is a land investment that promised to triple your money requiring 2000 US dollars for a lot of Canadian land  near Montreal. So I contributed my half of1000 dollars after hearing what Frank  learned and we went in. Two  years gone by when we suddenly heard from the developer  saying that they had an offer of our investment doubling what we invested.  They claim this is a good offer even though it was not the three time return  they promised. However, if enough of us investor agree to accept the double-your-money offer by signing a waiver for the promised three times your money  back, then we can get our money at such-and-such time and date in hotel  xxx.  Well, who can resist double-your-money back in two years. So Frank  and I went. In the hotel ballroom there were free drinks and food. All the investors  sat around tables. There were also new investors.  The host apologizes for not delivering on the promised 3 times return and thus requiring us to sign a waiver to collect our money (double the original investment). Every one of us went up onto the stage, sign the waiver, and collect a document saying that we can collect the money in two weeks when the deal goes through  from a xxx bank in the city of Boston.  While the signing was going on, the developer mentioned another land scheme  urging the new investors to buy in. Seeing us collecting our doubling money many new investors signed on the spot. Everything went smoothly. The next day Frank and I were telling our attorney friend about our good fortune investment  and showing him the document to collect our money. Our attorney friend noted  that the bank from which we are to collect money does not have a good  reputation. It is better he goes to collect the money to avoid any problem.  We thanked our friend and agreed.However, before we can collect our money, a front page newspaper article exposing our real estate investment was a total  fraud, the schemer sold our land repeatedly many times. Our signing ceremony  in the hotel is simpl y an act where we were unwitting actors to convince the new investors  that one can actually double our money in a short time.  After they collected the money from these new investors, the schemers  simply ran away with the money. But our troubles were not over. We, the original investor being there first actually own a piece of worthless Canadian land  (other later investors who were sold the same piece of land got nothing).  But we soon began receiving annual tax bil lfrom the Canadian government  which  we duly paid. After several years, Frank and I decided this  is ridiculous. We should cut our loss and donate the piece of land to the nearby University of Montreal and get a tax deduction. We tried andgot a reply from the University “No, thanks”. Finally, the only thing to do was to stop paying the tax and let the government re-claim the land for Canada.  Even then this was not the end. A couple of years later, we received a message from some corporation which began earnestly that this  corporation sympathize with our loss. However, they have a plan  to turn this land into a worthwhile property and let us recoup our money and then some. The idea is to build an access road and develop this property.  However, to do this we need to invest  another $2000 with this corporation . . .

I said to my friend, Frank, and he agreed that  “to be fooled once, one can be excused. But to be fooled twice, it becomes your own fault and stupidity”. We  declined.

Human greed never stops. The world is full of schemes to take  advantage of such greeds.




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