Final scam warnings: sweepstakes, inheritance or investor scams

You’ve won a big prize!!!! Right here!!!

No. You haven’t. But you might get a notice from another unknown character saying you’ve won something or some long-lost (and non-existent relative) has left you a fortune.


If you feel you’re being victimized (because you did send funds, you schmuck), consult “reputable resources.” Fidelity doesn’t identify them and I don’t know what would be a reputable resource when you’ve already sent the money (you schmuck).

“Do not rely on the resources the scammer gives you, since they are probably involved in the scam as well.”

Oh. Yeah. That makes sense.

Here’s one more scam warning from Fidelity:

Investment Scam. An investment scam involves the illegal or purported sale of a financial instrument. The typical investment scam is characterized by offers of low or no-risk investments, guaranteed returns, etc. 

Oh my. This sounds like a Bernie Madoff or Donald Trump scheme. So what does Fidelity Investments say to do in case you suspect you’ve been victimized?

  • Don’t trust a person or company just because they have a website; a convincing website can be set up quickly. [Or a person who occupied the Oval Office for four years.]
  • Be cautious when responding to special investment offers, especially through unsolicited email. [Ditto, above.]
  • Check with other resources regarding this person or company, and inquire about all the terms and conditions. [But not family members who see things the way you do, unless one of them is long lost and is on the verge of writing you into his will.]

I’d add this one: if your great friend’s husband says he’s all excited about a cheap stock which is about to explode (in price), tell him you’ve filled your quote for cheap stocks, but thank you very much.

Fidelity’s red flag summary:

  • A person or company solicits business from you rather than your finding them on your own. [My addendum: you may find something on your own which will prove to be worthless. This I’d call a self-scam and I don’t know who’d put up the red flag. Maybe an alter ego?]
  • The requestor asks you to send the wire to a name different from their own. [There are still wires? As in “wire me money even though you don’t know who I am”?]
  • After just a few contacts, they profess strong feelings for you and ask to chat with you. [On Facebook, you can get all these strong feelings from people you’ve never heard of and with whom you’ve never had any contact at all.]
  • They threaten legal action if the funds are not sent “right away.”
  • The wiring instructions [there we go again, with this wiring thing!] seem unusual, they change, or you’re asked to go to a different financial institution. [How did you even get to this ridiculous stage of being a scam victim?]
  • You are coached on how to respond to questions your financial institution might ask you regarding the transaction. [If your banker or investment advisor starts to scream at you because you’ve instructed him to hand all your money over to a Ruritania princeling, don’t hang up the phone. But tell her/him to stop screaming.]
  • If you met on a dating site, they will try and move you away from the site and communicate via chat or email instead.
  • Messages may be full of typing errors, poorly written, or vague, and may escalate quickly if you show resistance. [Not to criticize this warning but the first part of the sentence doesn’t really match the second. Show resistance to what? I mean, you make fun of the guy’s poor grammar and he starts threatening you?]
  • The messages or calls become more desperate and/or persistent, and if you do send money, they ask you to send more. [Oh, just don’t send money in the first place.]

“Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!”

That’s Fidelity’s last word on this unpleasant subject. I do wish they hadn’t resorted to an exhausted cliché. Aside from that, we’re good. Aren’t we?

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