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Taken for a ride by the scammers
Opinion

Taken for a ride by the scammers

How many of us have not received a message from a contact who is "travelling" and in urgent need of a transfer? Or a text from the post office about an undeliverable package?

Rachel Haynes

Malaga

Friday, 15 December 2023, 16:16

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The stories have been flowing steadily over the last few months. Scam, fraud, cheat, swindle, con, deceit... they say the more synonyms there are for something, the more common it is. So we read them all, astonished at the shameless skill some have, the ingenuity and the lengths they will go to trick someone into believing something that isn't real.

There are the stories of the women who have fallen in love with handsome strangers who never existed. How their remote relationship went on for months and even years, and how after daily chats and romantic exchanges they are happy to "help" them out with tens of thousands of euros. And then their plans to meet up always fall through at the last minute. The scammers cruelly take advantage of a person's inability to see what they don't want to see, especially when the story that eventually turns out not to be true - often after it has destroyed them both psychologically and financially - is what they have always dreamed of.

More recently we have had stories of scammers posing as famous actors and persuading their victims to hand over large sums of money to phoney charitable causes. And at least two people close to me have had the "Dad, I've lost my phone. Contact me at this number" text. Both have a son quite capable of losing his phone. Fortunately both tried contacting them the usual way first, but it was a message just like that that led to a mother handing over her jewellery to release her daughter who had supposedly been arrested.

How many of us have not received a message from a contact who is "travelling" and in urgent need of a transfer? Or a text from the post office about an undeliverable package? It only takes the details to fit in with real circumstances and for the messages to reach us in a moment of distraction or stress for us to fall into the trap.

Just this week we've seen more of the incredible stories of Pat Andrew, the phoney Hollywood producer who paraded his nonexistent projects before influential people in the highest circles on the Costa del Sol, picking up numerous victims before "sadly passing" in an unconfirmed manner.

The amount of traps out there for us to fall in is tremendous. We can't be reminded often enough to be wary, especially of something that seems too good to be true.

But it's a sad world if we go through life trusting no one, just in case. Thanks to this bunch of scammers, how many genuine pleas for help have been ignored? And how many lonely people have rejected the love of their life, for fear of being taken for a ride? The scammers of this world have not just claimed their own direct victims; they've indirectly affected all our lives if we feel we cannot trust those who reach out to us.

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