Always a new scam
There's no end to scams. Two of the latest schemes involve calls to people who place classified ads in newspapers, Of course, that's of prime importance to us.
In one case, an elderly woman placed an ad in two area papers to sell a tractor riding mower. She received a call from an AT&T relay operator who said she was passing on a message from a hearing-impaired person. The woman was asked to email the man about the mower.
Soon, she got back an email from a person named Daniel, but the English seemed odd. For instance, Daniel referred to himself as "i" rather than "I." He said he was in Mexico with a group called Racers for Christ and wanted to arrange for the tractor to be shipped.
Daniel said he would send her a money order to pay for the tractor, with extra money for shipping. She was supposed to cash the money order and wire the excess money to a shipping agent.
The woman wisely looked into Racers for Christ first. The group's website has a scam alert warning that they have had complaints about Daniel's relay operator calls. Daniel is not connected with Racers for Christ.
The lesson is, whenever possible, try to check out who you're dealing with, as this woman did. Never agree to payment involving a third party. Don't send items until the check or money order has actually cleared. And don't fall for a line simply because someone claims to be disabled.
In the other scheme, a person also gets a call about their classified ad. The caller says they are with an internet advertising company and offers to put the ad on the internet for free until the item sells – at which point they will bill you. You'd do best to simply hang up.
Old con games recirculate in endless ways. Since we last wrote on the subject, more area people have been contacted about getting big paychecks for being "mystery shoppers" and more of those Nigerian emails promising a share of great wealth have been sent. Perhaps the Daniel email came from there, given the awkward English.
Other people have gotten phone bills for calls they didn't make. While some of these are big bills for dialing 900 numbers, others are for small amounts and may be designed just to get information out of you.
You should never give credit card or bank account info to anyone unless you know exactly who they are and why they need it. There's no such thing as being overly careful in protecting yourself against con artists.