How to Avoid being Ripped Off

August 13th, 2010 · 5 Comments · Personal House, Property Management, Rental Property

Scammers don't look like this!

I can get really bent out of shape by good people being ripped off and scammed and defrauded by con men and women. Investors regularly get parted from their funds in a number of ways. What really got me going today was a phone call from a victim who met up with her predator at a free real estate investment seminar. It’s not the first time I’ve heard about this kind of behaviour occurring. This nice lady was scammed by a guy who also scammed another landlord who used my services last year.

Then this week I’ve been speaking to a landlord who’s being defrauded by a deadbeat tenant. The stories are actually remarkably similar. Furthermore these same scenarios and the mechanisms by which they work are played out repeatedly by all kinds of criminals.

Victims

Con artists look for vulnerable people to take advantage of. Their victims are often elderly, senior, young, naive, trusting and lonely people. Another often targeted group is new immigrants. What makes it worse is that all these people have scrimped and saved their pennies and are looking for a 100% safe investment.Because a 100% safe investment does not exist and because these people are both desperate to make better returns on their money and unlikely to embark on a risky venture they are particularly vulnerable to liars who will tell them that they can make a lot of money but very safely.

Trust

The first thing a fraudster does is try to gain your trust. They do so in a number of ways including hanging out at places where you are more likely to let your guard down. Church, real estate investment seminars especially the free ones, clubs basically anywhere that you will be relaxed and likely to be receptive to friendly encounters. I’ve heard of pretty questionable investments that operate almost using church member’s money. Real estate guru seminars are big on “networking” and “mentoring”. MLM scams like Amway are huge in churches and propagate using family and friends as vehicles.

They’ll also seek to make a common bond with you. They’ll emphasize or even lie about commonalities they share with you. The landlord who was taken for a ride was told that her tenant was a student getting a PHD. The landlord understands this she just finished her degree.

You Do Something Illegal

Let’s take for example these email scams because we all get them every day. The first thing they do is ask for your help, they are dying blah blah. They have no relatives, can you transfer some dough for them. Can you distribute it to some well meaning Christian people? The person’s first thought is that they will take the money for themselves from this person. Come on… there’s no way you were planning to deliver $20,000,000 USD to the orphans. Then they ask you to send them a small sum like $5000 so they can can pay for some kind of postage or some other nonsense and you send it because you’re so damn greedy.

Then you’re ashamed because you’re doing something wrong yourself. You don’t want to tell any authority like the police that you sent them the $5000 so that you could steal their $20,000,000 instead of giving it to the orphans.

In today’s story the lady did not qualify for an additional mortgage so her predator told her he would “help” her. She gave him the down payment to put on the house and he bought the house in his name and resold it to his next victim without even giving her back even the initial $25,000. The new victim was going behind his wife’s back to try to make a fortune in real estate.

Then the houses they bought on the advice of this “mentor/predator” all had illegal apartments which they rented out. When they complained about their funds being stolen someone made an anonymous phone call to the city and both of their basement apartments were closed down.

They Take As Much Money As They Can

They’ll keep asking for more money for repairs, problems and whatever thing they can dream up until you have none. This continues until your trust is broken and they move on to the next victim. In the meantime, you’re left with discovering what mess they’ve left you with.

The Police

If you rob a person at an ABM of $20 you will be charged and possibly if you do it enough, you will go to jail. If you rob immigrants and other vulnerable people in “investment” transactions, they have to sue you to get their money back. You are bled dry and now you have to hire a lawyer. Such cases take a long time. These predators can do it over and over with relative impunity.

How To Avoid These Psychopaths

  1. Avoid fail safe investments and the people who promise them
  2. Don’t let your guard down
  3. Watch how they treat others, that may be you one day
  4. Don’t let yourself be manipulated by sob stories
  5. Believe the evidence and dismiss the explanations

Don’t Blame Yourself

These characters are far more skilled at deception than you are at detecting their lies. Life in society requires a degree of trust. Every victim of a crime blames themselves and questions themselves to try to figure out what they have done wrong. The bald fact is that you really did nothing wrong except for be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ted Bundy the serial killer used to volunteer at a Rape Crisis center. Everyone (except his poor victims) thought he was a nice guy. There’s a thread going on over at the REIN network right now where an investor is looking for someone who took $48,500 to serve them with legal papers to try to get their money back. One guy has even chimed in and defended the fraudster’s character.

My advice is to stay as far away from sneaky or questionable investments and the people who come up with them. There is more to life than money, there is peace of mind and integrity. Staying away from fraudsters and liars is a reward in itself, these people pollute every single thing they touch with their dishonesty.

Best of Luck Avoiding Scams!

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