Sadly, internet fraud is becoming ever more prevalent and, at the same time, ever more sophisticated. Only last year I very nearly clicked on a link in an extraordinarily clever email which used the correct name and contact details of someone who worked at my bank and which seemed legitimate in every way but was, in fact, completely erroneous. I still shudder at the thought.
Statistics are hazy, because the police are convinced that only a fraction of the people who are tricked in this way report the crimes because they're apparently embarrassed at having been caught out. This is wrong - it could happen to anyone. In fact, a recent radio programme featured the case of a retired man who'd been cleverly scammed not long after having left his work. You've guessed it - his job had been an internet fraud investigator.
Since my mini scare a few months back, I have a hard and fast rule: don't click on any links in emails, ever. If it's important and legitimate, the people concerned will get in touch by other means and, even then, double check by calling back on another number from a different phone/device.
Meanwhile, the old fashioned scammers with their offers of inheritances from defunct Nigerian uncles you didn't know you had, continue their 1990s modus operandi. A few days ago I received the following email (I've deleted the name and address of this particular banking professional but they were as hilarious as the rest of the communication).
Hi, I'm Mrs ............ a staff of OCBC WING HANG BANK. here in Hong Kong.
I wish to get in touch with you for an urgent transaction of Twenty three million, seven hundread and eighty thousand, four hundread and twenty six euros ( €23,780,426 Euros) that i have to share with you.
kindly contact me via: ......... @......... for more details on the procedure of the transaction.
Thank you very much for your understanding.
Mrs ....... ........."
Now, much as we could all do with a share of 23,780,426 euros, I do wonder if this woman at the internationally renowned Wing Hang Bank has ever received a single, solitary reply. In the case I alluded to earlier in which I was nearly duped, I reported it to the police. This one, however, was simply deleted since the chances of Mrs .......... finding any takers are surely a big fat zero.
Sophisticated scams meanwhile are no laughing matter.
If in doubt, don't.