Scams are at an all time high. People have lost life savings, had to take out second and third mortgages, and been left hopeless. It’s a scary thought that it could happen to us, but there is one thing all scams require. If you’re careful, you can avoid them.
Emails and Hummus
Over the weekend my girlfriend and I watched an HBO special by James Veitch. He’s the comedian who scams the scammers with comedy. Instead of ignoring the scam emails, he replies back with ridiculous claims including that the scammers should take all his money and invest in hummus.
The special was absolutely hilarious, but, unfortunately, getting scammed is no laughing matter. When someone is truly scammed, it’s painful. There is nothing but heartache when your hard-earned money and your trust suddenly disappear.
But there is one thing that all scams require, something that can clue you in so you can avoid being scammed. I realized this when someone tried to scam the online art gallery that my parents, who have now passed, created.
Buffalo, Roadsters, and Couriers
As I handle online messages from the business, I received a message from a gentleman looking for artwork for his wife for their anniversary. In response I had the perfect piece. My father had painstakingly painted a beautiful still life of flowers for my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary.
There were a few limited edition prints left, so I suggested this $200 item for him.
He replied back that he was looking for an original up to $2,500 in value. After my parents passed, my siblings and I agreed the originals were not for sale at any price and would stay in the family. They were simply more valuable than money. I let him know that print was the most valuable item we had available and there were a few others that he might want.
He selected a few, and then said he could send a check and asked us to relay part of the funds to a courier that would ship several items including a 1932 Roadster to him as he is moving overseas. This was a red flag, but it wasn’t the first one.
You see there is one thing that all scams require, and luckily, I didn’t have it. I wasn’t completely sure it was a scam yet, but I soon would be. Upon reflection, I could see why it was.
Big Ticket Items
You see, he started out asking for the big ticket items. Then he asked for originals valued up to $2,500. Then, when I didn’t have that he asked for several of the high-value prints. It didn’t seem that he cared which they were.
He needed something from me in order to make this happen: the one thing all scams require. He needed me to be greedy. He needed me to be so hungry for the sale that I would give up common sense – the common sense that would say his check could bounce and we would pay out cash and goods to his “courier” with nothing to show for it.
All scams require greed of some kind. They all require us to want so something so badly that we will forego common sense to get it. I don’t mean greed in the traditional sense, but greed in the “starved for more” sense.
It could be someone who never is rich enough, but it is more than likely someone who is barely scraping by. It’s also the person who just wants to be loved, or the person who desperately needs to feel important. All scams prey on our vacuums of need that are so deep that we find it nearly impossible to say “no” when there is just the sliver of hope that it might be true.
The One Thing All Scams Require
If you want to avoid being scammed, the best way is to simply keep your expectations reasonable, and your buckets full. Having money to take care of your needs should be both what you should have and what you should hope for. Spending too much or expecting to be rich, sets you up to be a mark.
Having a good relationship or being happy with yourself and your friendships should be enough. Expecting to be swept off your feet by Prince Charming and whisked off to his mansion sets up expectations that only something that’s too good to be true can fulfill.
In the end, the scammer I approached just stopped messaging me. He asked me to pay his courier three times and each time I told him he would have to handle those arrangements himself. I haven’t heard back.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter if I make the sale or not. This business is simply open for those that want my father’s prints. We (my sisters and I who maintain the business) don’t rely on the money. I was able to avoid the scam simply because I wasn’t greedy.
If you want to avoid scams, simply don’t be greedy. To put that in less loaded terms, make sure you have what you need to enjoy life, and make sure that your belief in what you need to enjoy life is grounded in reality.
Enjoy the little things. Spend money wisely. Find joy in creating, interacting, and the world around us. We all struggle with wanting more. Sometimes we need more than we have, but if we aren’t careful, wanting too much more, can set us up for heartache.
The best way to avoid scams is to simply be wise with what you’re given and be satisfied with what you have. The rest is just gravy.