Scammers — a lesson I forgot to teach my kids

There are a lot of things we need to teach our children before they grow up and leave home. With two young adults in college, I thought I had been doing a pretty good job.

When my son called me last week, I realized one lesson I forgot to teach my kids — how to spot scammers.

Scammers have been around forever. They tell you a creative story and then offer something that seems too good to be true.

When I was younger, it was a Nigerian Prince who contacted me. He wanted to flee the country and needed someone to help him move his excessive royal funds into the United States. In exchange for helping him, he offered to pay a large sum of money. Fortunately, I didn’t believe his story or give him any money.

My son was not contacted by a Nigerian Prince. He was contacted by a potential employer.

My son had been looking for jobs, and filling out applications online. When he received an email offering him a job as a personal assistant, he was intrigued.

He agreed to take the job, and this is what he was told:


First on the list is the orphanage home donation which I usually do every month, I do make donations to 3 orphanage home every month, You ought to help me purchase some toys and other items which will be donated to the orphanage home. I contacted the orphanage home for the list of toys needed. The toys are so many and it will cost much money and stress to get them shipped. Therefore, We have reached an accord, they will be getting the items themselves.”

The “employer” went on to describe how she would be sending my son a check to cover the donation costs. His job was to wire the money to the “orphanages.” He deposited the check ($1,600) and waited until the next day to wire the money (only $1,400 because he was being “paid” $200 for his work).

I’m sure you know how this played out.

A few days later, the bank contacted him to say that the check had bounced. The money he had wired, had all come from his personal savings. He contacted the police, the wire transfer company and the bank, all with no success. He had just been scammed, and lost over $1,400. Ouch.

I wish I could make his savings reappear, but I can’t. All I can do is help other kids (mine and yours), avoid losing their money to scammers. Here are a few signs to looks for;

  1. Bad spelling and grammar (the above paragraph is full of them).
  2. A quick and easy way to make money (he was offered $200 to make two wire transfers).
  3. Lottery winnings, prize money, shipping fees, or overdue balances from companies you do not use.
  4. Anytime someone asks you to send or wire money.

Have you talked to your kids about scammers? Help them avoid the pain and loss that scammers can cause.  

Melanie Flake

Melanie Flake

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