Big Dream, Easy Target for Scammers
A Story: Dreaming Big
I have a good friend, Francis, who seems to be a magnet when it comes to being scammed out of money. Against her friends’ advice, she plows ahead, following her dreams to be a mega-millionaire. She has spent/lost (according to her) $150,000 dollars on an idea of which nothing has come to manifest.
I have been friends with Francis for 8 years and have heard all about her “invention” and the fame and fortune yet to become reality. Other friends stopped listening long ago, whereas I want to support her and do wish her success in life.
Francis is vulnerable to any positive attention. She had been seeking out help from all kinds of online companies who promise to make her dream a reality. Her latest venture is from a company that assured her that they would develop her invention idea, but first, she must pay $15,000 before they get started.
One would think Francis might delve in a bit deeper before handing over the money based on a few phone calls and e-mails. Would you not want to meet your investors face to face? Would it not be worth a plane trip to their city and see their headquarters? Is their address legitimate? What are the staff like? What other business ideas have they launched from other people with ideas? Sadly, Francis wired the money before doing such due diligence. It even gets worse.
Francis has been in a state of ill health for several years now. Unable to hold down a job and living on government assistance, she really does not have money to spare and her own children have had to step up financially for her occasionally. According to Francis, she was able to partner with an old neighbour who willingly opened a bank account and made a sizable deposit for her venture. I have known Francis for a while now and have never heard of this neighbour until just recently. The story about the neighbour is blurry. No one seems to know him or how he got involved in being a “business partner”.
As Francis tells me the story of her new (and finally) long overdue recognition from this new company partnership, I realize that offering her a voice of reason is fruitless. She already gave them the money.
After doing some research online, the company that is supposedly going to make Francis a multi-millionaire does have some impressive success stories. However, there are a few things that don’t seem to add up: Why is their website address untraceable? Why does their business address show up as a different business on google maps? How easy is it to fake success stories online?
It has not even been a year since Francis was recently scammed out of $16,000. The money was stolen directly out of her bank account. It started with a late-night phone call with an inquiry to buy her time share. Francis believed they were willing to offer her funds at 3 times what she had paid to purchase the time share originally. Apparently, the “bank” to do the money transfer only needed her chequing account number and was open 24 hours a day since she would do banking business at nine to ten at night. Does that not raise alarms? Her account was emptied. Sadly, this was inheritance money from her father. She was now unable to pay the rent for the next month.
My pal, Francis, the big dreamer, who only wants to be a star in her own town falls victim to scams. This recent scam is not the first as I recall her stories of other “lesser” money scams over the years. A thousand dollars here and there for web design and other internet-based activities. I do not know if her latest venture is a “scam” as of writing this story. It may pan out to be something legitimate. The proof is in the pudding.
Follow up: Time Will Tell
Francis went to visit the business that promised her fame and fortune. They paid her flight and she was to pay the hotel and expenses. I was glad that she brought her daughter with her to keep her safe from other possible mishaps. Her daughter has had to be her mother’s voice of reason and support over the years. It cannot be easy on her.
Francis needs to be in the limelight. She Facebook-ed her 4-day trip details. She went to the city museum, the zoo, and was invited to visit the mansion of the company owners. There were lots of pictures of her looking successful. “Fake it till you make it” comes to mind.
She has been back from her trip now for almost a month. I called her the day after her return and she said everything was fantastic. I have not heard from her in a few weeks now. Eerily quiet! In fact, I have been concerned. It is not like Francis to become quiet. We have exchanged a few texts here and there, but nothing substantive. She loves attention: Facebook is her favourite.
A mutual friend of hers, Maddy, and I went for coffee yesterday. We are busy people and are careful not to talk about other people. Though, on this occasion, we did discuss Francis out of concern. She brought to my attention that Francis had Facebook-ed herself in the hospital with tubes in her nose. A long description about her illness and her supposed heart attack. We viewed this together and neither of us knows how to intervene in a way to keep her from declining any further. We don’t believe her description.
I know that trouble is brewing. She has a pattern of becoming ill and posting it when her dreams get shattered. No more talk about her million-dollar business. The drama continues as now she is nearing death, according to her. I have witnessed this before. Both Maddy and I are not wanting to play into her drama, for her sake as well as ours.
Francis’s friends get changed out on a regular basis: Once they ask to many questions about her ventures, they become extinct. She denies to herself that her tales of grandeur are not fooling anyone. I am her longest and best friend, she tells me. I have great empathy for her and don’t let on that I know she lies due to desperation for attention.
Dreaming of fame and fortune is not that unusual, I suppose. But when desperation, deception, and the need for attention become the primary focus, does that open the doors for being scammed out of what little you may have? I tell this story as I witness a dreamer fall deeper into decline and perhaps self-imposed ill health. It is like watching an accident and being helpless on the sidelines. I do have a belief that doing something just for fame and fortune, rather than to help other people with an idea or invention, can only lead to disappointment. If you are promised to receive all you desire for only $15,000 (to start), it is probably too good to be true.
I wish you well, Francis, or at least wish for an intervention before you slide into even deeper despair. I have tried to help you before and was met with resistance. I would miss you dearly should you not be around anymore, for real.