The gambling scam that didn't stop for Christmas
Many scammers went quiet over Christmas, making the most of their ill-gotten gains. But these gambling tipster scams were still going strong over the festive break.
It's back to reality time after what for many was a near two week break. Even my 'favourite' fraudsters – the ones who phone me trying to take me for £10,000 or more with purchases of rare earth minerals/coloured diamonds/carbon credits/environmental land in the Amazon jungle took time out.
That might be because they thought it would be unprofitable calling in the midst of a time of family celebrations. Or, more probably, because they had taken off for some exotic resort where they could spend their ill-gotten gains from ripping off the vulnerable.
They'll be back as soon as the cash runs low.
The scam that doesn't stop for Christmas
In the meantime, their counterparts in the “mass market” (smaller sums but many more victims) are hoping 2013 will prove profitable. So it's time to cash in on offers of 'New Year Resolutions' such as “How I GUARANTEE you will achieve total financial security this year.”
At its most basic, this script goes like this. “Had a rotten 2012? Deep in debt and despair? How about I show you a sure fire route to riches? It will only cost £39.95 and you have a money-back promise.”
Then there is usually page after page of stuff promising to unlock your true potential, pay off all you owe, and achieve the nirvana of “financial independence”, complete with pictures of luxury cars, yachts, and happy families with beautiful children living in crime-free, dirt-free and hassle-free, upper middle class housing in the US.
Of course, all these photos can easily be grabbed online. But if 2012 was bad for you or you are still searching for the holy grail of big rewards with no risk and minimal outlay, then those pretty pictures are appealing.
Often, you can go through thousands of words and scores of attractive photos and still not work out what you have to do in order to reach “financial freedom”.
The £1 trick
Some use the “one coin” trick to drag you in. One offer for a “turn me into a millionaire overnight correspondence course” promises to show how to buy a house for just £1. I am not sure what I might get for this – it's hardly enough to buy a small pack of Lego bricks. But I can imagine someone who considers themselves down on their luck or who reckons life owes them better forking out the £99 for this “online education”.
Then I received an email promising me a tax-free income of up to £180 a week for just five minutes work on each Thursday afternoon with just £1. That's equal to £2,160 an hour – a rate substantially in excess of top lawyers and accountants. And you don't even have to go to law school or do any number crunching training.
So what do you do to turn £1 into big money each week with no effort?
Time to get gambling
You visit the local bookmaker. But before you do that, you sign up with a football betting tipping service. That's the £1 spent (with more to come).
They come full of testimonials. You can't check any because they are signed “John” or “Alix”. And you won't find John or Alix (or Tom, Dick or Harry) at any football stadium. That's because the tipster wants to give you confidence that previous knowledge is not needed. So “Anna” says she has never seen a football match, has no idea or interest in sport and has never bet but, by following instructions, she gained £83 in an afternoon. And thanks to the “free £10 bet” which a number of online bookies offer, she didn't even have to risk her own cash.
To make betting even better, the tipster has a list of matches where he has backed the winning team. There are no dates, no scores and no indication of the odds. But it is easy enough to cite these successes by looking at old results.
That way, you can claim to have backed relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers to win at championship-chasing Chelsea this week. Had you backed a Chelsea victory with £1, you would have received just £1.20. Backing QPR to succeed would have netted you £13 for your £1.
QPR surprised everyone by winning.
The forecasters all came out of that one with lots of egg on their faces – it would be unfair to pick on any single prediction. But if next month, someone proclaims on a website where facts cannot be checked that they had correctly predicted a QPR win in this West London derby, it will sound totally impressive and convincing. After all, websites never lie, do they?