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The Tragedy Scammers Cause


A friend recently received the following message online — allegedly from Charles Koch, the celebrated conservative and financier. It reads, awkwardly:


“Hi, my name is Mr. Charles Koch, an elder brother to late Mr. David Hamilton Koch a philanthropist and the founder of Koch Industries, one of the largest private foundations in the world.

“Mr. David Hamilton Koch believed strongly in giving while living and had one idea that never changed in his mind, that you should use your wealth to help people and he decided to give USD2,000,000.00 Million Dollars (sic) to randomly selected individuals worldwide before his death on the 23rd of August 2019.

“On receipt of this email, you should count yourself as the lucky individual. Kindly get back to me at your earliest convenience, so that I will know your email address is valid. Email me at [_____] you can also visit the web page of late Mr. David Hamilton Koch to know more about the Hamilton Foundation and this grant at [____].”


The message is, of course, a scam. Yet, each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans fall for this and similar frauds, sent by grifters from around the world to innocent, but not always naïve folks.


This week (January 31-February 4) is Identity Theft Awareness Week, a time for all honest Americans to become better acquainted with ways to avoid the scams and frauds of crooks trying to steal their money or private information. Sadly, too many of us, in numbers that will attract even more scammers, will suffer the consequences — including lost money and fallen pride.


Last year, more than 95,000 people told the Federal Trade Commission they’d been defrauded, most often on social media. More than one out of every four folks who reported they had lost money said the “transaction” began with a post, an ad, or a message on a social media platform. The losses amount to more than $770 million — an 18-fold increase over 2020.


According to the FTC, the largest number of reports came from victims who lost money trying to buy something they spotted on social media. Most said they never received the items they thought they were buying. Others reported ads posted by scammers posing as real online retailers.


The surge of grifting on social media is due largely to romance scams. More than a third of the victims who gave money to someone they met online only to find they’d been bamboozled said their relationship began with a post on Facebook or Instagram. “These scams often start with a seemingly innocent friend request from a stranger, followed by sweet talk, and then, inevitably, a request for money,” the FTC said.


Most of us probably believe the most victimized group of Americans are the elderly. While adult Americans of all ages suffer from the scammer’s greed, the largest group of victims is 18-39 years old — not senior citizens.


So, listen up. Regardless of your age, education or social status, you’ve been marked by a scammer. Sooner or later, someone will try to steal your money or your credit card number. How to avoid these thieves will be the subject of future posts.


But to start us off, be advised Charles Koch doesn’t want to give you any of his deceased brother’s money.



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I receive these crazy emails weekly-one type or another. A friend who is a veterinarian had emails coming to his office that his receptionist answered confirming orders for surgical gloves and stating they needed to confirm the company credit card-cost him thousands.

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