It is wise to be wary

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

This week, a photograph of a NYPD officer presenting boots and socks for a homeless man on the street in New York City went viral. It was cold. The man had blisters on his feet. Officer Larry DePrimo saw a need and filled it, out of kindness.
Some have implied that the man had taken advantage of DePrimo and probably planned to sell the shoes. After all, he was camped on the street just outside of a shoe store. Others have praised DePrimo for his compassion.
This week, the North Carolina attorney general’s office sent out a notice of a scam, an official-looking letter requiring an $89 payment from North Carolina new property owners for deeds that can be obtained from local registrars of deeds for free. Another ongoing scam involves “winning” a lottery, but being asked to pay lottery fees up front. Scammers pull the switch on products, with victims unknowingly paying for much more than they receive (like the recent case of the meat truck in Aurora in which, allegedly, the discount meat seller only partially filled a freezer behind the victim’s back). A few years ago, an elderly gentleman rode about Washington, asking for gas money to get home. He collected quite a sum in the process.
Scammers prey on people’s trust. They also prey on people’s desire to get a good deal. According to law-enforcement officials, the popular resale website, Craig’s List, is full of such scams.
The best defense against being scammed is knowledge. Take the time to find out whether that deal is really as good as it seems, or if the letter that looks so official is actually official.
Unfortunately, even in this season of giving, it’s wise to be wary.