Have you won the Irish lottery, even though you don't remember buying a ticket?
Has a Nigerian prince or British billionaire promised you hundreds of thousands of dollars if you grant him one small favor (that involves your bank account)?
Do you know where to "buy cheap pills online" or to take advantage of a "secret sale on Armani and Gucci"?
One has to wonder who would fall for such ridiculous e-mail scams that normally get sent straight into junk mail folders. But apparently, someone is. U.S. postal inspectors report that Internet cons are on the rise in this tough economy.
"They take what we call the shotgun approach and just send out hundreds or thousands of e-mails, hoping to find someone to take advantage of," Thomas Brady, inspector-in-charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune.
This seems obvious, but apparently it needs repeating:
There is no justifiable reason for anyone to give you a check and ask for money in return.
Several scams involve offering the victim a percentage of a large-sum check.
"You may receive a check and be told to deposit it, take out [a certain amount] as your pay, and wire back the rest for shipping fees and things like that," said Brady. "Later you come to learn the check is bogus."
Popular fake-check schemes, as reported by FakeChecks.org, include:
Use some common sense, folks. If an organization or individual really had so much money, they wouldn't need to ask a stranger (from another country) for help. That's what lawyers are for.