Scam of the day – December 30, 2013 – Nelson Mandela scams

The recent death of former South African President Nelson Mandela was both a sad occasion due to the loss of this great man, but it was also a time to celebrate a long life well lived.  Unfortunately, it also has turned into an opportunity for scam artists to turn people into scam victims as a number of different Mandela based scams are appearing in emails, text messages and social media.  Although they are all different, most share the same basic format which is that following Mandela’s death, the person receiving the email, text message or other communication is lucky enough to have been chosen to receive a substantial payment from the Mandela estate.  Other scams are tied to the fund raising efforts of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and promise the potential victim a share of the funds raised by or on behalf of the foundation.  Similar to the Nigerian letter scam, the funds which are initially promised to be free and unconditional end up costing the victim large amounts of money for various fees and administrative costs that the victim is told must be paid before the victim can receive his or her funds, which, of course never come.

TIPS

Scammers are always adapting their scams to whatever is newsworthy and is holding the public’s attention.  Again, as always, when you receive any communication offering you free money under any pretext, the first question is why would the person or entity offering you the money randomly choose you.  You should also remember a couple of my mottoes, namely, “if it sounds too good to be true, it is” and “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.”  In regard to scams directly related to Nelson Mandela, you can check out the website of the Nelson Mandela Foundation which keeps track of the many scams related to the great man’s name.  Here is a link to the foundation’s website with a list of Mandela related scams:

http://www.nelsonmandela.org/content/page/public-scams

Never give money to any scheme until you have confirmed the legitimacy of both the scheme itself and the people involved with it.  Generally, it will not take long to discover that these type of free money offers are nothing more than scams.