Keep scams from wreaking havoc

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By Ben Carlson

An old cliche has been circulating around The News office, and frankly, we'd rather not hear it anymore. But it's not necessarily the cliche we're after, it's the reason as to why it's being said.

"If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said both Lawrenceburg Police Department Detective Mike Schell and Lawrenceburg resident Sharon Hill.

Schell was referring to Internet scams two local women fell victim to, and Hill referenced a scam she got caught up in simply by reading a classified advertisement in our very own Anderson News Extra. (The ad has since been caught and removed.)

These women have been swindled out of money ranging from $4 to $4,000, and even though it's probably coincidence these scams simultaneously popped up in Anderson County, they definitely caught our attention.

Internet and telephone scams are nothing new, but when it happens in your own back yard, it's time to take a look. Whether it be in pursuit of a relationship or employment, Anderson County residents should educate themselves on how to prevent such fraud from devastating their finances.

Fraud doesn't have to be as complicated as a Nigerian letter scam. As those Lawrenceburg residents proved, something as simple as an advertisement for a job can be a faade. There are many websites that offer tips on how to avoid situations where you can be taken advantage of.

The website for the FBI, www.fbi.gov, has a section on fraud schemes that tells warning signs for the most common scenarios, including investment offers, telemarketing fraud, identity impersonation and health care fraud.

Internet dating is a wonderful venue for some people, but being too trusting is a problem. About.com has a list of warning signs to look for in online dating. AntiScam.org and Russian Woman Blacklist both have photos and details about hundreds of known Internet dating scam "personalities."

It is sad that we must be on a constant defense in our simplest of pursuits, but in the end it will pay off to be more careful.

To report Internet fraud, go to http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Internet_Fraud.shtml