From the 1500’s on there has been a scam that has proven very lucrative for thieves and has left thousand of victims destitute. It’s called the Spanish Prisoner due to its origins. It seems that back then Spain was a constant threat to many countries resulting in much mistrust. “Marks,” or victims, would be notified that a royal person was being held prisoner and to set them free would require bribes. In exchange the victim would receive not only a generous reward, but also the hand of the princess in marriage.
This particular brand of scam required quite a bit of charisma, as well as knowing what marks could pay the money, but were sufficiently malleable. The charm that a criminal of this variety can exude is sufficient to get the money out of the victim without even tipping them off to their deceit.
Similar swindles exist in assorted varieties in modern times. They still depend on secrecy and trust, covertness, and a sense of acute importance. They rely on the tendency of people to want to come of the aid of their fellowmen, especially if they can profit monetarily while doing so. As the game goes on, the victim is told that difficulties have arisen, and more money is required. Rather than lose the money he has already put out, he will invest more, and this will continue until the mark is cleaned out and the game ends.
One of the most common forms today is called the advanced fee fraud, also known as the 419 fraud. With the Internet this has become easier than ever. Not only can names be pulled from email headers, but the last name can often be determined from that information. The result is a conman often claims they are a relative and has the name to prove it.
An Internet contact often results in a follow-up call where an elaborate, intricate story is woven and the plan is designed. That’s why it’s important to use telephone look-up services such as 411infoseek.com/269/708/ in order to be able to verify if the caller is really whom he or she says they are. Most modern-day cons are modeled after this earlier version and can include any number of variations.
The advance free fraud is another variation with a lot of offshoots, where the basis is that the mark has to pay the scammer money to theoretically get money. People who have too much trust for things they read online have been duped by the lottery email, work from home, reshipping, employment, overpayment, and romance scams, leaving them destitute because they believed a lie.
There are many other ways to protect one self from scammers besides using telephone look-up services like the one previously mentioned. One is to delete any emails which come from unknown parties. It’s important to remember that once opened, scammers can gain access to an entire address book with the touch of a button. With enough persistence eventually they will hit a soft mark and it all starts with one person opening an unknown email.
If an email is inadvertently opened, scanning it quickly for poor spelling and grammar as well as any “hook” or free things a person might get just by sending a miniscule amount or opening a checking account that contains no money at all, should be questioned. Unfortunately, there are no international Internet police, however, agencies in many countries are trying to identify these groups and shut them down with the help of those who are tired of being fleeced. With everyone’s help hopefully this epidemic will end soon.
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