Several Red Flags for Spotting a Phony or Scam

The world is full of phonies and scammers these days. They use various mediums such as phone solicitation, spam email, magazine and newspapers ads, TV infomercials, and plain old snail mail. They are constantly searching for their next victim. Like P.T. Barnum once said, "there's a sucker born every minute", so there's a plenteous pool.

To all of those potential victims, I offer some tips for spotting phonies and scams. There are several red flags you need to watch out for. Any of the following is almost always a dead giveaway that you have encountered a potential phony or scammer:

1) Someone claims to possess "secret" information. In today's world there are very few true secrets left. The news media is all over just about everything that goes on. Any information that someone tries to keep secret quickly gets exposed and reported to the world. Also, ask yourself, "why isn't the mainstream media interested in that 'secret'?"

2) A person repeatedly states that his/her extraordinary claims are "absolutely true", "not a joke", "completely accurate", or something else along those lines. If their claims are genuine, then those claims should stand on their own merit. Constant repetition of statements meant to reinforce the validity of their claims would not be necessary.

3) Someone's claim is not realistic and doesn't make sense. Remember what they say about things being too good to be true? Someone once showed me an ad in which a "home developer" was looking for people to build homes for and only wanted $500 up front. Curiously, he said he preferred those with bad credit over those with good credit. Obviously, he knew that people with bad credit are often the most desperate and gullible. He was eventually prosecuted for running away with more than $ 1 million in stolen "down payments."

4) Someone is spouting conspiracy theories. First, take a look at those people who believe in conspiracy theories. They are the same ones who believe pro wrestling is real. Do you want to be grouped with them? Second, as is the case with so-called secrets, any real conspiracies would be exposed by the media in a very short time. Major conspiracies such as those that some people are constantly alleging could never be kept secret for very long. At a minimum, the media would be interested in following up on that person's conspiracy claim, if it indeed it had some semblance of validity.

5) A person uses religion to try to convince you that they can be trusted. Their sales pitch consists of the repetitious use of words and phrases like "praise the Lord", "hallelujah", "God bless you", "glory to God", etc. If you ever encounter someone like this, hold on to your wallet and run the other way as fast as you can. True Christians would never use their religion as an advantage to try to increase their sales.

6) Someone claims that his/her get-rich-quick scheme, weight-loss program, etc. is "easy." Anything worthwhile in life requires effort and is never really easy. Besides, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it and people wouldn't be struggling to make a living and/or lose weight, for example.

7) A person makes wild-eyed claims that his/her product (that you have never heard of before) is "amazing" or "revolutionary." If it were actually "amazing" or "revolutionary", someone other that person and his/her minions would also be making that claim about the product.

8) Someone wants to sell you their "system" for making money that will make you rich. The obvious problem here is that if their system is so good, why are they wasting time telling you about it and trying to sell it to you? Why aren't they using that great system to make money for themselves? The truth is that their system for making money consists solely of selling suckers their system for making money!

Terry Mitchell is a software engineer, freelance writer, and trivia buff from Hopewell, VA. He also serves as a political columnist for American Daily and operates his own website - http://www.commenterry.com - on which he posts commentaries on various subjects such as politics, technology, religion, health and well-being, personal finance, and sports. His commentaries offer a unique point of view that is not often found in mainstream media.

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