Friday, February 10, 2012

Scammers are everywhere. Just because it is on the Internet, does not make it true

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

gullible |ˈgələbəl|


easily persuaded to believe something; credulous : an attempt to persuade a gullible public to spend their money.

More Americans should pay attention to this word, and its definition.

Scams have been around since biblical times. The only thing that seems to change is that while more and more people are evil enough to attempt to perpetrate a scam, there seems to be an even larger number of people gullible enough to fall for the fleece job.

I consider thieves and deception artists to be among the most evil of all criminals. Like wolves, they prey upon the the weak.

Throughout the years, scam artists have been at work trying to convince Americans that they should part with their hard-earned cash by way of donations and get-rich-quick schemes.

With the proliferation of the social media generation, scams and schemes of all sorts have surfaced around the Internet. Facebook seems to be one of the most frequent avenues for 21st century scam artists to ply their trade.

Many of the Facebook scams don’t necessarily dip into your pocket, they just play on your emotions, probably for the scammer’s own amusement.

What I do not understand is why more people don’t ask themselves, “Does this seem right?” before they share a post with others.

One of the “old sayings” that my dad was fond of repeating was, “If it seems too good to be true, it is.” I have learned repeatedly through the years that my dad was right.

I cannot believe the number of people, who upon seeing a photograph of a forlorn-looking sad-eyed puppy or kitten will immediately hit the “share” button on Facebook on a post that says something to the effect of, “The Humane Society will donate $1 for every share….”

Come on folks! First of all, many so-called help-the-animals organizations are too busy perpetrating their own scams against the American public. Those television commercials with the sad music and the video of “abused” animals, put together with a professional actress, commenting in a suitable sad tone of voice.

(Note: if you want to donate your hard-earned money to a worthy cause involving animals, please donate locally. Here, you know that your dollars are going to the intended purpose, not to line the pockets of paid employees of the national organization.)

What is it with Americans that causes them to throw their nose into the air and turn away from causes that will help people but those same folks will “share” like crazy at the sight of a puppy or kitten.

This must be a glorious time to be a Facebook scammer. Even normally sensible people somehow believe that if they find it on the Internet, it must be true.

Here is where you need to think. In the past, when people read something in the newspaper, or saw it on a television news story, they took it for granted that it was true. These were, after all, professional and ethical reporters and writers.

Today, one can not always go by what they read on the Internet. As more and more iReporters (a la CNN) have their unprofessional, often biased and sometimes totally inaccurate stories mixed in with those of an ever-shrinking corps of professional journalists, it is ever more difficult to separate fact from fiction.

My message to all is to only trust stories that you read and watch from trusted sources. Facebook, and other social media sites, are not necessarily trusted. Some of the content comes from trusted media sources, but all too much of it comes from unknown people out in cyber land.

I recall another of my dad’s “old sayings” — “Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.”

You will get much further in your life by taking a few minutes to verify or corroborate a story, than by just assuming that it was in the Internet, so it must be true.

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