In Kitchener Waterloo, we are not safe from scams

africa mapThere are outright scams and borderline scams.

This spring, a man came to my door collecting money for a charity I’d never heard of. I live in the Uptown – Westmount area of Waterloo. He had a plastic clipboard that he opened while he gave me his pitch. On one side of the clipboard was a form with a list of names and addresses written in longhand and amounts given in columns. The other side of the clipboard had cheques and $20 bills arranged seemingly haphazardly. Instead of giving him ten bucks, like many people would. I told him “No, I’ve never heard of your charity. I know nothing about it, so no, I’m sorry.” The whole performance seemed to slick.

I felt bad later when I Googled it and found out that yes, it is a legitimate charity. (At least on the surface.)

But, I can’t be blamed. There are so many scams out there. Some of them, like the Nigerian Bank scam, have been around for ages; it predates the internet. I remember getting a fax from Nigeria in the early 90’s when I worked for a bicycle manufacturer in Taiwan informing me that with my help getting a sizable amount of money out of a Nigerian bank, I would be rewarded handsomely. That is an outright scam. But it must get results, it’s still going strong.

I wrote here earlier about a handyman scamming Kitchener Waterloo residents, working for cash doing shoddy work. That’s a borderline scam. Buyer beware.

A friend of mine who rents out three rooms in his basement was scammed last year. It went like this; he gets a response to the ad he posts through the University of Waterloo housing website from a guy who says his daughter is currently doing a work term in England but needs a place to live in Waterloo for a year, starting in September. “The place seems perfect”, he writes, “Can I send you the rent for the whole year?”

“Sure” says the landlord, “that would be great”. A couple of days later, a money order (for more than $4000) arrives and the landlord takes it to the bank.

A little while later, the landlord gets a phone call from the father. “Sorry my mistake, I sent you too much money. Can you please send half the money back to my daughter? Can you send her a money order for $2000? She needs it to buy an airline ticket to Canada and pay tuition…”

Long story short; the original money order is a fake and the landlord finds this out a few days later with a statement from the bank. He’s withdrawn $2000 against it so now his account is overdrawn.

There was an interesting story in yesterday’s Waterloo Region Record (link below) about Kare for Kids charity selling chocolate bars for $3 where perhaps as little as ten cents actually finds it’s way to needy kids. It’s a legitimate charity. They do lots of fund raising and they’ve come to my door.

I gave them $20.

This sadly, is borderline scam. They’ve scammed many. They’ll likely scam many more.

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