by John Arendt
The most dependable scams continue to make the rounds by e-mail and telephone, police say.
Cpl. Bruce Haley of the Summerland RCMP detachment said the fake lottery winnings and the fake inheritance scams both surfaced repeatedly in 2011.
The lottery scam entices victims with promises of winnings from an overseas lottery, but charges for taxes and handling fees are collected first.
The inheritance scam, which claims to come from a bank worker, offers a share of millions of dollars to the person who will claim to be the next of kin of a recently deceased person who had a large bank account.
In both cases, Haley said people need to think carefully before responding.
“People don’t give something away for nothing. It never happens,” he said.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”
Another scam came from a firm called Destiny Research Centre. People were sent a metal good-luck token and were told to cut it in half.
They were to keep one half of the token and return the other half, along with a $13 cheque.
“It’s not a lot of money but it adds up rather quickly,” Haley said.
One telephone scam still making the rounds is that of a caller claiming to be a stranded relative — often a grandchild — who needs money for unforeseen travel expenses. This scam has been circulating for several years.
Haley said most of the scams originate overseas, where the RCMP have no jurisdiction. If money has been sent, there is little hope of recovering it.
A new telephone scam circulating this year comes from a caller who claims to be a Microsoft employee, offering to fix problems with the Windows operating systems.
Haley said this scam is dangerous since the victim is asked to turn over complete control of his computer to the scammer.