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Scams Without End!

Posted on 7th April 2022

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There is a constant stream of scams trying to trick us out of our hard-earned money. Luckily, they are mostly pretty transparent.

The days of the Nigerians claiming to control funds (usually millions) that they want our help transferring out of their country, for which they need our bank account details, are thankfully now largely over.

There are still cases of people stealing money by advertising something (usually a second-hand car), then asking the potential buyer to prove that they have the money by transferring the funds to themselves via Western Union, which the scammer then collects before the buyer can do so. A friend of ours was tricked in this way. This scam is only possible because Western Union does not enforce the transferrer's security requirements, such as proof of identity and a security question. Western Union has refused to take any responsibility for these cases, and the police seem unwilling to help.

At the moment I am getting a lot of calls to tell me that I have won a prize in some competition that I never entered. The prize usually includes cash, but can also include fully paid vacations. The catch is that, in order to claim your prize, you have to subscribe to something, typically a newspaper, paid for by a direct debit from my bank account. I am surprised that such scams are apparently legal in Germany. I have to be very persistent in saying no to these scams; once or twice is never enough.

Today I experienced a new scam. I received a call from a German mobile number, in bad English (not a person, but a synthesised voice), claiming to be about an international police investigation (this was used to justify the call being in English), telling me that I should act now to avoid losing my house, and to press "1" to speak to the federal police. I know that the German police would always speak German, at least at the start of a call, and that no foreign law enforcement agency is legally allowed to cold-call residents of Germany (they would have to make any contact through the German police). I was not even slightly worried by the call; since I do not own a house, no-one can take it. Nevertheless, I can imagine that some people, on receiving such a call, would be extremely worried.