By Sylvia Juuko
Conmen are getting more cunning and sophisticated by the day. If you are not alert, you will easily lose your money. If you are in a cash crunch, you are even more likely to to fall prey to con artists since they promise huge returns in a short time.
Other situations that attract these scammers is high demand for a product or service or an ongoing legitimate promotion among other things.
To compound the situation further, advance in technology has made it easier for conmen to exploit their victims.
Unfortunately, some of the easy targets, are the ever growing number of job seekers. The media is awash with reports of fictitious companies set up to target the desperate job hunters.
Another equally favourite group for such conmen are those who want to get rich quick without breaking a sweat.
While anyone can fall prey to these unscrupulous people, exercising caution allows you to spot them from a distance.
First of all, when approached by a stranger on the street trying to sell you a business deal, and you choose to give them benefit of doubt, you should be very alert.
This should be driven by your assessment of the safety of the location. For example, if you are jostling for space in a busy downtown area, you wouldn’t risk stopping to listen to such a fellow.
Their motive could be to distract you to facilitate mugging. On the other hand, conmen usually research about their victim and use it to con them.
More so, the smarter conmen are very organised. Depending on the extent of their operation, they usually invest in an office to create an impression of a legitimate company.
They will advertise their services by word of mouth or in the media about their services, including offering numerous job or travel opportunities. Most will need you to deposit money before your job requests are processed.
Sadly, many people fall for this con and end up losing their hard earned money.
The mobile phone has become a targeted medium of carrying out their ruse. You will receive a phone call in which you will be told that you have won a prize. What is surprising is that even people who are not participating in any competition or promotion are tempted and fall for this prank.
You will then be told that to claim your prize, you have to either load airtime or pay some money. This is an old prank that you shouldn’t fall for. Ongoing legitimate promotions provide the perfect cover for conmen to exploit unsuspecting customers.
Another favourite is the pyramid schemes in which you are promised guaranteed returns. These could either come through emails, phone contacts or adverts.
Avoid handing over your money to someone to ‘multiply’ it in a few days or weeks. If you are greedy, you are setting yourself up as an easy target. It’s very unlikely for a legitimate business to generate returns that will triple your initial investment overnight.
Do not borrow to take part in such schemes.
If you handed over money to an acquaintance with high hopes of becoming a millionaire overnight, you have to be responsible for the losses that will occur.
Regrettably, there is a belief, perpetuated over time, that to get something done, you need to grease somebody’s palms, so that the process is speeded up.
To get ahead of conmen, never appear to be in a hurry to close a ‘deal’. It’s in your interest that you cross reference this information with trusted parties. Making a decision to part with your money is not something that must be hurried. It pays to always be suspicious.
The writer works with Bank of Uganda