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What To Do If You Have Been Scammed

Feb 10, 2008
In the late 1990s, a friend of mine received an email. It talked about an investment opportunity in an oil business. Since he was already in the same business, he found the proposal to be quite interesting. They talked about it more at length by email and it finally came to a point where all he needed to do was to hand over his share of the investment in person.

So, he traveled all the way to Nigeria. The next thing he knew, he was penniless and stranded in a foreign land. Fortunately, some good souls helped him get a ticket home. However, things were never the same after that. He had lost a good amount of money and his own business never got back on its feet. My good friend had become one of the many victims of a scam.

Every day I receive a good number of these emails from get rich quick businesses; all somewhat similar to the ever popular Nigerian scam. I get an average of ten phishing emails a day. Every now and then I even get snail mail stating that I have won the lottery in some foreign country. People laugh at others who have been victimized by such scams. They always say how gullible some people are and how they're smart enough never to fall for such a con. However, there are several proposals that are created so meticulously that it would appear to be genuine! The proposal can be so well made that one can't help but get sucked in by the seemingly legal business talk. In this day and age, people get scammed. If you do find yourself in such a harrowing situation, it's not the end of the world. You CAN do something about it.

First and foremost, don't cover it up! People tend to not talk about it because it seems so embarrassing. They don't like being thought of as a fool. However, telling everyone about your ordeal helps in so many ways. It lets everyone know that such scams exist. It helps people understand that anyone can be victimized and it helps to institute programs to educate others on how scammers operate. More importantly, the information may even help the authorities find the scammer.

Report your ordeal to the authorities. There are several existing laws already in place that deal with internet fraud. The police can help you file a formal complaint and even forward a copy of the complaint to the jurisdiction where the scammer is located. You can also report the scam to Econsumer dot gov. Your report may be entered into the Consumer Sentinel, which is a consumer database of complaints which is maintained by the US FTC (US Federal Trade Commission). If entered, all of those details of your complaint will be able to be easily accessed by numerous certified law enforcement agencies.

If you paid by credit card, you can ask your bank for a charge back. Banks may be willing to cancel the charges or reverse the payment. However, you must do this as soon as possible since there are time limits on such complaints. Informing your credit card provider and bank are even more important if you have given sensitive personal information to a scammer. The sooner that you can alert your credit card companies, banks and consumer reporting agencies, the better!

Remember, time is of the essence! The sooner you act, the better your chances will be of recovering what you have lost.
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