OFWs have money, albeit hard-earned money. They are also lonely, hopeful of giving their loved ones a bright future, and are, of necessity, respectful of authority. All these traits make them vulnerable to scam artists and their con.
Most Common Scams that Victimize OFWs and Their Loved Ones
- Phishing Scams Look at the picture on the right! This is what phishing looks like in general – E-mails that look like they come from legitimate businesses like your bank, a government bureau, and maybe even your agency. If you click on the link, they will ask you to log in, or update your personal information, or even ask for your bank account number or credit card information. Normally banks or companies don’t do that! It may also look like it’s a legit E-mail that was sent to you by mistake, but one where you can potentially get money from.
- Text Scams – These will mostly victimize your loved ones and will most likely start with, “Kamusta na kayo? Eto na ang bagong number ko.” My cousin thought this was from our Aunt that she owed 20K to, and paid up with cellphone loads over time.
- Dugo-dugo Scams – A person posing as a figure of authority, like a doctor or a police officer, will contact you and say that a loved one is in an emergency situation. They will pressure you to send money ASAP because it will endanger your family if you wait.
- Pyramid/Ponzi Scams – This will play into your herd mentality by saying you’re the last one to get it. Be wary of testimonials since they just want to recoup their investment. They also tap into your hopes for a better future by promising great returns in exchange for little to no effort.
- Lovers’ Scam – They will prey on your loneliness, befriending you and maybe developing a relationship with you. Your lover will then “request” for money because they are in a bind. Worst is if you’re coerced into bringing “padala” and it turns out to be a suitcase full of drugs.
- Recto Scam – This preys into the mentality that it’s easier to fake it than to do the right thing. People will just go to “Recto” and have a legal document faked. Remember that Primary Source Verification for documents exist. You will pay dearly when you’re found out.
What to Look for to Avoid being Victimized
- Sense of Urgency – People looking to scam you will pressure you into deciding right then and there. They may cultivate your confidence over time, but when it comes to handing over money, they will instill in you a sense that you have to fork it over immediately.
- Charisma – Con Men are usually attractive, or at the very least, personable. Good-looking people are easier to trust, it’s human nature. Also be on the lookout for people who pander to your ego, since you’re more liable to hand our money over to somebody we like.
- Great Deals – They will give you money in exchange for doing something bordering on or even outright illegal. It’s a great deal since it’s from the black market, etc. When it blows up, you can’t complain to the authorities since it was illegal in the first place. Ponzi schemes like Emgoldex proliferated because people ignored government warnings.
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
- Take a step back and give yourself time to think about your situation. Don’t give in to the pressure to decide right that moment.
- If somebody is asking for money via text or E-mail, call them if possible and confirm if they really were the ones asking for money. Or call their housemate to confirm their situation.
- Think logically, divorce your emotions from your decision, and most importantly, entertain doubts.
- Don’t open emails with attachments. Look out for files that end with .exe or .bat in the email. Don’t click on it, please – it could be a computer virus.
- Better safe than sorry is a cliché because it’s true. It’s always better to have your money on hand than to fork over your money for some dream that might not come true. Here’s a better way to invest your money.
- Confide in a friend and ask for their opinion. Sometimes, our emotions cloud our thinking and an outside perspective will see through scammers since they will not benefit from it. We can be victimized because we stand to benefit from it somehow. Of course, if it’s a pyramid scheme and your friend is involved, their advice should be suspect.
Remember how hard you worked for that money. Getting rich quickly is a pipe dream. Earning money is always hard, and if it’s easy, it’s likely a scam!
Picture attribution CC BY 2.0