The Martial Arts Training Institute
Fraud and Con Artists
Criminals do not always plan to be physically aggressive in order to steal money and property. Many find it more satisfying to talk you out of your possessions. Con artists enjoy the con as much as the financial prize they receive as a result of their efforts. Fraud and con artists coax billions of dollars out of Americans and foreign visitors every year. The following are facts and tips that will help you avoid being taken by fraud and con artists:
Most telephone sales calls are made by businesses offering legitimate products or services.
There is no positive way of determining whether a sales call is fraudulent.
Fraudulent sales callers have one thing in common: they are skilled liars.
Perpetrators of phone fraud are extremely good at sounding as though they represent legitimate businesses. Most have considered all possible questions and planned answers for each of your inquiries.
Phone swindlers are likely to know more about you than you know about them.
You may be the one who initiates the phone call. If you answer advertisements in the classifieds asking you to participate in unique business opportunities, you open yourself to potential fraud.
Victims of phone fraud seldom get their money back. At best, they get a few cents on the dollar.
If a salesperson comes to your home, do not give him/her money on his/her first visit. If you are interested in the product, find a listing in the local phone book to check references. Schedule a follow- up appointment when someone can join you to hear the sales pitch. Before making a purchase, check with the local police or Better Business Bureau to ensure the company is legitimate. Do not sign a contract for a product or service, such as a new paint job, without reviewing it with a trusted friend or family member.
Refuse unordered C.O.D. merchandise.
Never pay for a product you did not order, even if it has already been sent to you.
Investigate offers (for real estate, life insurance, charities, etc.) BEFORE buying.
Ignore chain letters.
Con Artists’ Key Words
A con artist is difficult to detect by looks; however, he/she is often betrayed by his/her words or expressions, including:
Cash only. Why is cash necessary for a proposed transaction? Why not a check?
Secret plans. Why are you being asked not to tell anyone?
Get rich quick. Any such scheme should be carefully investigated. Remember, most wealthy people did not “get rich quick.” They worked hard for their success.
Something for nothing. If promised something for nothing, you usually get nothing.
Contests. Make sure they are not a hook to draw you into a money losing scheme. Contests are becoming a popular way to swindle people. If you win a contest, you should get the prize without owing money before taking possession.
Must act now. Beware of pressure to act immediately or lose out.
Today only. If something is worthwhile today, it will likely be available tomorrow.
Too good to be true. Such a scheme is probably not good or true.
Last chance. If it is a chance worth taking, why is it offered on such short notice?
Left-over material. Left-over materials may be stolen or defective.
Con artists who target businesses go out of their way to make themselves appear legitimate. They open offices, file for incorporation, and hire legitimate, unsuspecting employees. If you have doubts about a company, especially one located several states away, go to the place of business and meet the person who was on the other end of the line. Call other industry professionals regarding the firm and ask for references. Use everything from ingenuity to computer on-line services to find more information about firms you are having second thoughts about. Take your time, play it safe, and you will never be taken by a con artist.
Adult Safety Outside of the Home
When you are walking to work, to the store, or just out for exercise, there are many precautions to consider. Cars, like people, can approach silently and quickly from any direction. Your most important safety precaution rests with being aware and alert to the environment around you. The following nineteen suggestions are excellent safety measures to consider when you are traveling on foot:
Avoid walking on streets alone at night. If you go out, carry a dependable flashlight, preferably a metal one with an adjustable beam that takes the larger C or D cell batteries. These tend to be brighter and last longer. Also, carry a whistle or a handy alarm device.
Walk with a friend you can count on for assistance. Know your neighbors and decide which ones you can rely on in an emergency. Remember, criminals are not looking for witnesses or more than one potential victim. Walk in places where others are present.
Be aware of your “body language.” Walk briskly, in a businesslike manner, with your head up. Signal confidence and certainty. Avoid prolonged eye contact. Be observant and report descriptions of all suspicious people or vehicles to local law enforcement agencies.
Do not walk when you are emotionally upset, depressed, inebriated, or on medication, since you will not be as alert to your surroundings.
Walk facing traffic.
Be alert for people who may be watching or following you. If you are followed by a car, change directions. Do not return home: This would reveal your address. If the car stops beside you and someone tries to force you into the vehicle, scream loudly and run to the nearest place of safety. If you scream, scream “Fire” instead of “Help.” This is more effective in arousing public attention.
If a suspicious person follows you on foot, cross the street and change direction as well as your pace. If the suspicious individual continues to follow you, go to the nearest safe place. One advisable retreat is to get back into your parked car, lock the doors, and honk the horn. Have your keys ready. If you can do none of these things, allow your follower to pass you by. If he/she stops, you should turn and face him/her since you stand a better chance in a face-to-face confrontation than with your back turned. If possible, carry your cellular phone.
Do not overburden yourself with packages that would make it difficult for you to react or escape. If your hands are full with packages, briefcases, or groceries, you are easy prey because you are completely preoccupied. Keep one hand free for carrying your keys or pepper spray.
When using public transportation, plan your transfers so you get on or off at stations that are well-lit and populated. If you are waiting for a bus or train, stand with other passengers or near an attendants booth. If you are accosted, attract attention by talking loudly, running, or yelling.
Walk near the center of the sidewalk and avoid passing close to shrubbery, dark doorways, vacant lots, closed parks, or parked cars.
Do not take short cuts, especially through back- yards, unfamiliar or vacant buildings, parking lots, or alleyways. Criminals know these short cuts as well. They may be waiting to catch someone who is alone, in a hurry, and not paying attention to his/her surroundings. Be cautious when talking to strangers on the street, especially when asked to give directions. They may be trying to mislead you or divert your attention.
Know the area where you walk. Familiarize yourself with stores, restaurants, and gas stations that are open late along your route. Consider these establishments as a safe refuge.
Vary your routes and times of departure if you walk regularly. Let family or friends know where you are going and when you expect to return.
Keep your wallet, money, keys, and credit cards hidden on your body (i.e. an inside pocket). Do not use an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) after normal banking hours unless a friend or relative is with you.
Be aware that you can make 911 calls from a pay phone without depositing money.
Do not be a handy target for thieves. Put pickpockets out of business. Be alert to people in crowds who bump into you, drop money in front of you, or wear a coat or jacket draped over their shoulders to hide their hands.
Leave purse snatchers empty-handed. Hold your purse firmly. Remember to place your handbag on your lap when seated in public. Avoid hanging your purse on the door or placing it on the floor in public restrooms. Never leave your purse unattended in a shopping cart.
Report stolen credit cards immediately.
by Sheriff Irwin Carmichael