Freedom Checks, the Foreign Lottery Scam, the 501(k), and More
by Kelly R. Smith
This article was updated on 01/07/21.
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Get rich fast schemes have been around for a long, long time. Why? Because everybody wants something for nothing (Socialism in America is a hot topic right now), or at least by expending the least effort possible. People want to hear what they want to hear. If not, we wouldn’t be such a ripe crop for fake news. If it sounds too good to be true…
The fact is that the digital age has ushered in a whole new generation of characters determined to separate us from our money. It is just a lot easier to reach a lot more suckers. As P. T. Barnum said,”There’s a sucker born every minute.” Let’s take a look at a few email scams that are taking up space in our email accounts.
Trump Bonus Checks
I’ve been getting this one for a while now. As with most of these messages, you have to watch a real snoozer of a long, long video while the narrator skirts around the meat of the matter until the very end.
Despite the name, he stops just short of claiming that President Trump actually legislated or recommended this “bonus” although he certainly implies it.
Of course there is an often-repeated call to action (CTA) to create a sense of urgency by telling you that you need to get yourself on the list by May 14. Or what? Some other poor slob will get my money? OK, got it. After all, there is a limit of exactly $15 trillion of cold, hard cash available!
The bottom line? He wants to sell you $502 worth of information for a low, low price of $49. Basically he is going to sell you investment tips. What does that have to do with Trump? Nothing; he’s just riding on the Donald’s coattails.
Now, just for the sake of having some fun, how long do you think it will take for this particular scam to morph into Biden Bonus Checks? Smart money says it will not be overly long.
Freedom Checks have been around for at least a few years now, or at least that is when they started showing up in my email. Lately they have also been running ads on the radio. To finance that they must be finding some gullible takers. The radio spots are mercifully shorter that the video that accompanies the email.
I had to sit through the agony of the entire thing (for the sake of research for this post; see, I took a bullet for you), before the narrator got down to brass tacks about what it is really all about. Bottom line? The same basic Trump Bonus model although the investments seemed to focus more narrowly on the mining industry.
This is another pitch to sell $49 newsletters. The question I had to ask myself is, “If this guy some investment genius, why is he spending time with newsletters? How does he have the time or inclination?”
Phishing Scammers Posing as YouTube
Yes, it was just a matter of time, wasn’t it? This one wants all your sensitive YouTube information. Sometimes they can make it look quite legit. This video explains it:
Bankonyourself.com explains that the 501(k) plan is “a safe savings and wealth-building strategy based on a specific type of high cash value dividend-paying whole life insurance.” Now while this is true, these scammers are not interested in guiding your financial market investment, they just want your money.
An organization called the Palm Beach Research Group markets it under the guise that it is a tax shelter for the rich. The implication here is that if it is good enough for the likes for the very rich it ought to be good enough for a poor Joe Shmoe like me. After all, this is America, right?
Although the 501(k) is a legitimate investment vehicle and it can be quite lucrative, the approach taken b y the Palm Beach Group is to print and sell newsletters. These will set you back from $199 for the basic publication to $4,500 for the “Palm Beach Confidential.” Pssst, this is between you and me, OK?
The Foreign Lottery Scam
This foreign lottery scam is one of the most often-received email scams. You receive what appears to be an official email from a foreign lottery company. The subject line offers a congratulatory announcement (yea, you), and might include the supposed amount of money you’ve “won.” Tip-offs:
- The sender is a person, NOT a lottery company.
- Your name is not listed in the “to” field of the email header.
- The lottery doesn’t even exist. Do a search.
- It asks for sensitive personal information.
The bottom line? Most of us would do better to steer clear of these schemes and consult with a professional investment adviser face-to-face or sign up with a broker like Ameritrade. Don’t be a rube. There is no get-rich-quick in life no matter what a bunch of newsletter quacks say. Please take a moment to participate in the poll on the right-hand sidebar of this page. I’m conducting a study and your response is important.
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About the author:
Kelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.