True or a Scam - you must decide
We've all wondered whether something we were told was true or a scam. People run scams on unsuspecting people every day of the week.
Untold amounts of money are lost to people operating scams.
To maintain our approach to frugal living, we have to be on guard for money making scams of all types. My favorite is one of the diet products that could be viewed as clever advertising or simply another one of the diet scams.
I want to give you an example of a scam that a woman tried to run on us out in the parking lot of Sam's Club. It was a clever scam. So clever that I only saw it for what it was after it was all over.
Thankfully, my sweetheart saw through it and turned the woman away instantly.
I'll let you decide whether what the woman claimed was true or a scam.
In a Sam's Club parking lot in northern Colorado, Ellen and I were putting our groceries away into the back of her SUV when a distraught woman approached us in a rather frantic and helpless manner. She said that she was very embarrassed to ask us for help, but she didn't know where else to turn.
She claimed that she needed to flee a bad situation to be with her daughter up in the foothills, but was low on gas and needed $5 so she could get enough gas to make it safely to her daughter's home.
The woman looked frazzled, and there was the gas station, about 150 feet away, right there at Sam's Club. It all seemed real to me.
I took a seat on the rear bumper and prepared to ask the woman a question or two before deciding whether to help. I was interested in knowing whether her story was true or a scam, and I intended to ask questions to find out. I never got the chance.
Ellen inquired as to the nature of the bad situation. The woman said she needed to escape an abusive situation at home. Ellen immediately told her, "Sorry, but we can't help you."
I stood there in a bit of shock as the woman thanked us and went off across the parking lot, passing at least a few other couples before we stopped paying attention to her and went back to loading up the groceries.
Later, Ellen explained to me that her intuition told her that this woman was up to no good, and that's all she needed to shut down the woman's request.
So, I started to wonder out loud whether the woman's plight was true or a scam.
Analyzing the Scam
Let's look at the story, the location, the actions, and then let's see if it's true or a scam.
First, the woman claimed to be trying to get out of an abusive situation. So, if you're in trouble like this, where do you go? To Sam's Club? I think not. The police station, a crisis center or a shelter makes more sense.
If you notice that you need gas, and you have no money, do you go to a parking lot and ask strangers? I think not. You go ask your friends and neighbors as you're leaving the house.
Next, if you need to get yourself to a safe location, do you go to the home of a family member? I think not. That's an obvious refuge, and the abuser would figure that out quickly. You'd go somewhere else, and you'd probably seek help from professionals in the area, not shoppers at Sam's Club.
And, if you're really in trouble, do you accept rejection right off the bat, thank the people and then walk away? I think not. You would most likely be persistent in getting what you needed, if you really needed it.
Lastly, wouldn't you try to get help from others in the parking lot instead of walking right by them? Of course you would, unless you didn't want to put on the same show in proximity to the people who rejected your first act.
True or a Scam - the proof is in the pudding
One last point to consider. Could we have tested to determine whether this story was true or a scam? You bet. Here are two tests that we could have run:
- Ask the woman to see her driver's license and then while she was at it, ask her to prove that she had no money in her purse.
- Ask to see her car, and then verify that the fuel tank was on empty.
This seems like a lot of trouble to go through, and that's likely what the scam artist is hoping you'll think. But, if you're interested in helping people, and you want to maintain your posture of frugal living, then you'll want to be certain that any money to give to someone will be put to good use.
It should be perfectly understandable that those asking for your money be ready to provide some evidence that their story holds water. In any event, when it comes to determining whether a story is true or a scam, only you can decide that. My suggestions are simply this:
- Calm down, don't get caught up in the "madness" of the other person. If they're scamming you, that's what they want you to do.
- Ask questions to clarify the story and their claims.
- Think of what you would do in a similar situation, and consider whether what they're doing makes sense.
- Ask how they got into their situation, and why they choose their course of action instead of other actions that you think would be more logical.
- Walk away the moment things don't make sense, and the individual can't offer a reasonable explanation.
- If in doubt as to whether the story is true or a scam, suggest alternatives for the person to consider.
Be on guard. It's your money, and no one has a right to run scams on you to get it. However, you have a perfect right to hold onto your money. You earned it in exchange for your skill, knowledge, time and labor. That makes it valuable, so you need to protect it, and you have a perfect right to do with it as you please.
That includes keeping it right there in your pocket.
Done with True or a Scam, take me back to Money Making Scams