Saturday 11 June 2011

Nigeria: Giving your relations a heads-up on scammers

Protocols of contact

It is necessary to send a cautionary note to the many of us separated from our close relations by time and distance that certain unscrupulous middlemen might be tempted to take advantage of that situation to misrepresent our situations to our close relations and by doing so deceive, defraud or scam them.

There have been a number of instances where certain confidence tricksters have contacted relations with tall tales about believable but made-up circumstances drawing close relations into confidence.

It is important that we establish the protocols of contact and communication with our relations that they are not unduly taken advantage of.

Eliminate surprises

In my case, I have decided that I will neither use couriers or messengers to convey goods, services or messages to my relations without first informing them that such an arrangement has been made.

In essence, do not surprise them such that cold calls and surprise packages or messages will allow them to drop their guard when confidence tricksters come in to play.

Never send strangers to your relations, if you do, ensure that you and that stranger have at the point of initiating that messaging activity talk to the specific relations you expect them to contact beforehand.

Maybe you should establish code words or passwords that need to be verified before strangers are given an audience, these culprits can have obtained your details from all sorts of sources and use that to convince your people – the absence of the secret password will put paid to that criminal enterprise.

In other words, adapt the money transfer verification protocols for your purposes.

Always for their net gain

In many cases, your relations are the receivers; you should never make arrangements that have your relations having to pay up for any goods, services or messages you have initiated, they should gain a net profit and not a loss by reason of poor coordination.

Ensure, your relations know your real circumstances in terms of status, needs, means and concerns, this should ensure no one is able to plant strange stories about you to gain unwarranted confidence.

It is important that they know that when they are contacted by strangers to part with anything your relations should at least contact you, failing which they should contact at least two of your siblings, close friends or known associates before they act to part with anything which should be done only in company and never blindly.

Share the information

If the contacts ask that none of the information they have offered or shared be discussed with others, immediately suspect foul play and ensure that the widest possible network of people are engaged – if the report is that you are in trouble, you need concerted efforts of help not isolated sources of uncoordinated activity.

It is difficult to properly codify a proper warning chart of things to make your relations aware of, but it is most important for them to be fully apprised, properly informed, rarely surprised and in complete control of any communication channel that is opened on your behalf with the support of everyone else who genuinely has your concerns to heart – those people can never be those strangers, no matter how good their intentions at the onset presaging the opportunity to take advantage of your kith and kin.

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