During October and November holiday home owners in Donegal and elsewhere have been receiving scam emails such as the one above. the scammers know that October – March are slack time for owners so target this period in particular. Often the requested rental is for one, two or even three weeks and all are variations of the same overpayment scam.
Here is how it works
- you receive a request for a two-week stay during off season
- they ask you to “calculate cost including tax”
- you reply with cost and availability (not advisable)
- enquirer agrees and offers to send eg €3,000 bank draft with request that you take your fee and forward balance to a ‘business associate’
- your bank contacts you 2 weeks later to notify that draft is bogus
How to recognise advance fee frauds
- Typically, very large sums of money are tantalisingly dangled as a carrot
- As ever, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is..
- Don’t let conmen trick you.
- Seemingly plausible (but often unverifiable) details like names and dates or elaborate technical descriptions.
- Often the initial contact includes a phone number or a request for your bank details (on the pretence that they are going to wire you some money but in reality so that they can rob your bank account).
- They may be addressed to the ‘CEO’, ‘Managing Director’ or other title rather than a named individual.
- Messages may be marked ‘urgent’ or ‘confidential’.
- Spelling mistakes are common and may be included deliberately to make you feel superior or sympathetic.
- Many of these frauds originate from West Africa and they are often known as 419 scams after a section of the Nigerian legal code. However, they are growing in popularity around the world.
How to protect yourself
- Stop and think.
- never accept overpayment
- Never pay anything up front.
- Don’t get involved in correspondence with fraudsters. (very important)
- If you get involved in a scam, don’t let embarrassment prevent you from going to the gardai.