Saturday, 19 December 2015

Some healthy skepticism

Don’t believe everything you read. Or hear. Or see. Above all you certainly should be VERY careful about anything you see on the internet.

It’s not that everything you hear is lies, that’s certainly not true, but the truth is that there’s an endless supply of lies and deception out there and most of it is trying to get you to part with your money.

A reader sent us an email he received that said:
“Hello Everybody, My name is Mrs Sharon Sim. I live in Singapore and i am a happy woman today? and i told my self that any lender that rescue my family from our poor situation, i will refer any person that is looking for loan to him, he gave me happiness to me and my family, i was in need of a loan of S$250,000.00 to start my life all over as i am a single mother with 3 kids I met this honest and GOD fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of S$250,000.00 SG dollar, he is a GOD fearing man, if you are in need of loan and you will pay back the loan please contact him tell him that is Mrs Sharon, that refer you to him. contact Dr Purva Pius,via email: Thank you.”
Obviously this is a scam, you know that I hope? Real lenders don’t lend a quarter of a million Singaporean dollars (almost P2 million) to total strangers. They simply don’t. Real lenders don’t operate from Gmail addresses. Real lenders are companies, not just some guy calling himself “Dr”. Real lenders use their customer’s names and don’t just say “Hello Everybody”.

Another reader sent us this one:
“I am a dynamic financial assistance. I loan funds out to individuals in need of financial assistance, that have a bad credit or in need of money to pay bills or to invest on business. I want to use this medium to inform you that we render reliable and beneficiary assistance as be glad to offer you a loan. Presently i own 45% of the shares in CGP (Capital Group PLC, London) a government approved Financial. Institute. I am currently setting up a scheme in form of Loan acquisition. to help various individuals as well as organizations who have intentions of. renovating, debt consolidation, re-financing and also establishment of. business outfits. I am an international business man and Lender that has offered Loans to so various individual and firms in Europe, Asia, Africa and other parts of the world. We give out our Loan in USD($) and GBP (£). The maximum loan term we can offer is 30 Years at fixed interest rate of 3% per year.”
Again, real lenders don’t use Gmail addresses. Real lenders know how to write a sentence in English if they’re selling to English speakers. Real lenders know how to use a full stop.

Above all, and unfortunately, real lenders charge a LOT more than 3% on loans.

Let’s face one undeniable fact. Neither of these so-called lenders are lenders at all. They’re both scammers. At no point in the transactions they offer will any money flow from them to you. The only money will go from you to them. At some point just before the fake loan they’re offering is supposed to reach your account there’ll be a last-minute hitch. It might be a legal fee, a duty or tax or perhaps an account opening fee, but regardless of what they call it, it’ll be between P3,000 and P10,000 that they demand from you before the money arrives. Which of course it won’t. The entire business is about that money from you to them. It’s what they call an “advance fee”. That’s why they’re called “advance fee scams”.

The same goes for any emails like this one that I received recently:
“Greetings to you dear, my name is Rina i came across your contact today, i am interested to be in contact with you. please reply me”.
This is just another example of the same sort of scam but this time it’s not a loan that’s meant to tempt you, it’s romance. Or perhaps just something more physical.

Not all stories you see relate to scams. Some are just rumours. Last week someone shared a story in our Facebook group that suggested someone had found a condom inside a Woolworths sandwich. The comment from the original poster said “My colleague just bit into a condom in his Woolworths chicken and mayo sandwich” and the picture they posted does seem to show a Woolworths sandwich with a condom on top of it, as if someone had indeed found it there.

But here’s the thing. There is no evidence that this condom was ever actually inside that sandwich. The person who originally posted the message on Twitter apparently only created their Twitter account a few weeks ago and has subsequently deleted the account entirely. There is, as art experts and archaeologists say, no “provenance” to this story. There is no evidence that the story is true.

I know I’ve written this repeatedly before but what we all need is a much greater level of skepticism. Being a skeptic is a bit like being a healthy eater. If you want to lose weight or become healthier, you need to eat less, eat better and exercise your body. To be a skeptic you need to believe fewer things, believe only those things that are backed with evidence and to exercise your brain more.

I promise you that doing both of those things will make you a happier and more energetic consumer. It’ll also make you a lot healthier, both below the neck as well as above it.

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