Many scammers try to take advantage of holidays, events or anything in the news and as it’s Valentine’s Day soon, currently they go for that.
Scam #1: Valentine’s Day E-Card
There’s always lots of ads for electronic cards (e-cards) and especially around public holidays. If you want to try sending such cards – it’s better to find a website yourself rather than clicking on an advert.
If you receive what seems to be a Valentine’s e-card then be careful as many are created by scammers and sent out by the million. Rather than clicking the link to see the e-card – hover your cursor over the link and see if it does link to the website you expect. If it does then go to the website (do not click the link) and see if there is a card waiting for you. This doesn’t guarantee the e-card is safe but does exclude most forms of the scam.
Scam #2: Valentine’s Gift Cards
A Valentine’s gift card may seem a good idea and the adverts try to convince you they are the safest way to please someone.
But many are scams so beware inputting any confidential details and paying online. Make sure the site is a reputable one.
Scam #3: Buying Flowers Online
If you look on the Internet there are many choices of flower shop offering to deliver the perfect Valentine’s day surprise, but there are also pop up scam flower shops. Many offer beautiful bouquets at amazing prices (photos copied from a legitimate site of course) and some are taken in by this.
Always pick a reputable seller – preferably with well-known bricks and mortar branches around the country or at least one that has been around for some time and built a good reputation.
Scam #4. Online Dating
For some, this is a time to turn to online dating to look for the right partner. There is a huge array of websites and APPS offering to find your Mr Right or Miss Right, but there are also many new such sites and APPS appearing all of the time. Many of these are legitimate and do a good job but some are scam sites simply looking for confidential information and your credit card details.
Choose a site or APP that has a good reputation rather than a bargain offer.
Once in the world of online dating there are many scammers who post fake profiles and try to hook up with a number of people. They create very appealing profiles but their intention is to form a bond very quickly then start to get money from you – maybe a small gift or help to pay translation costs or money to visit you.
These people will likely research you online by looking at any profiles and posts on social media so they can see what you would like and use that to entice you further into a relationship.
If someone you have never met professes undying love for you then it’s going to be a scam.
Scam #5. Social Media Posts
Posting romantic moments on social media is very popular this time of year – but be careful before you click on any poems, letters , quizzes, surveys etc. directed to you on social media.
APPS on Facebook and other sites are not necessarily as safe as you expect, especially not just because they are about romance.
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You can use this website to check if a website you are thinking of buying from is registered to sell medicines and you can report suspected fake medicines and suppliers.
The potentially dangerous products seized by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had not tested for safety and have been found in some cases stored in dirty, rat-infested warehouses and garden sheds. In 2016, MHRA seized more than 4.6 million fake medical products and closed thousands of websites selling medicines illegally.
The three key messages are
More than half of all medicines bought online are fake
Side effects can include heart attacks, strokes and death.
Buying from dodgy websites also increases the risk of being ripped off through credit card fraud or having your identity stolen.
The #fakemeds campaign is run by MHRA and a recent study in co-operation with Slimming World shows:-
One in three slimmers have tried slimming pills purchased online.
Three quarters of slimmers (77%) were enticed by promises of rapid weight loss, more than half were attracted to being able to order discreetly (57%) and more than four in ten (44%) ordered online because they didn’t want to speak to a GP or pharmacist.
Nearly two-in-three (63%) suffered unpleasant side effects after taking slimming pills bought online. These side effects included diarrhoea, bleeding, blurred vision and heart problems. Worryingly, four out of five (81%) didn’t report these side effects to anyone.
Four out of 10 respondents said they had used the slimming pills knowing there were health risks, with more than six out of ten (62%) doing so because they were ‘desperate to lose weight’.
Be careful buying medicine online and if you should get a prescription for the product then do speak to your doctor and do not risk your health on cheap dodgy products.
More than 5,000 websites illegally selling prescription drugs were shut down in 2016.
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Why not try Gumtree? After all, Gumtree is British and it works for local people and especially for large items that the buyer collects.
In the case of a car – no point advertising for more than a short distance from home and it definitely needs to be collected. You can’t put a car in the post box.
The car went on sale but attracted little attention.
Then this arrived
“Great! please consider it sold and remove the adverts online as i am willing to pay your asking price? because i need to buy it for my cousin asap as a surprise gift, i have read through the advert and i’m totally satisfied with it,sadly i would not be able to come personally to collect due to my hearing loss and I’m just recovering from heart surgery so I’m home-bound. can i earn your trust, hope i wont be disappointed? I have a courier agent that would help me to pick it up at your preferred location after you have received your money and cleared to your account and i’ll pay you via PayPal today once you get back to me with your paypal email and full name. Where is the pick up location so that i can inform the courier agent about it now? Await your response”.
Ivana recognised this is a well-known scam.
The buyer contacts you via email rather than a call
The buyer offers to buy the item immediately, at full price, doesn’t ask any questions and is extremely keen.
The buyer cannot visit to view the item and has a sob story to explain this.
The buyer wants to send a courier ASAP to collect the item
The buyer tries to circumvent paying by Gumtree by offering another method (this means that if you are scammed, Gumtree cannot help)
Quite often these scammers say they will pay by Paypal and you might wonder how someone can scam you if they’ve sent you money on Paypal.
The most common ways are
They don’t pay but instead send fake emails that look like Paypal emails telling you that the money has been paid. Always check your Paypal account rather than accepting an email as proof and never click on links to access your Paypal account.
They pay using a stolen Paypal account. When Paypal find out its stolen – you don’t get to keep the money.
With Gumtree, cash payment on collection may be the safest approach.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.