Good Monday morning to all. Even though there is snow on the ground, it is still a beautiful, sun shiny day. Please see today’s message below.
When I woke up this morning, the word scammer was on my mind, for I have come to realize that scammers have no shame and will take advantage of anyone. I recently had to convince a young man that he was getting ready to invest his money into a Ponzi scheme. Too often scammers will use religion to make their gain. I suspect there is a university out there somewhere that is training and teaching persons how to be scammers. Some of them appear to be charismatic, persuasive, compassionate, convincing and even religious.
Stories of people losing money in scams are common and becoming more prevalent each day, it appears. The worst scams are those where the person being exploited instill trust and confidence enough to give even when there are victims to warn them that they are being cheated.
Scams have been around forever. Scripture tells us, “Let no one cheat you of your reward.” “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men.” Colossians 2: 8,18
The first sign of a scam is if the product or services you are to receive sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. The elderly are prime targets for scams. The best way to get around being taken advantage of is to disregard telephone calls that offer you something for nothing. No one is giving away anything free these days. My first response is to hang up, but before I hang up the telephone, I block the number. Yes, they will try again with a new number, but keep blocking.
Recently I heard an elderly lady say that she had been informed by American Sweepstakes that she had won a million dollars. She was advised to make arrangements to pick up her prize, but before doing so she was to mail money to American Sweepstakes. American Sweepstakes is the oldest gimmick going. Who is going to give you a million dollars for doing absolutely nothing? Don’t do it!
If you are asked to send payment for an item before you receive it, I suggest you be skeptical and suspicious. I recently read an article about a lady who ordered a puppy from a breeder who lived hundreds of miles away. The breeder requested the shipping fee and payment for the puppy up front. The puppy was going to be shipped to BWI Airport. After waiting for days, the puppy never arrived and the puppy breeder disappeared. Don’t do it!
According to the Federal Trade Commission, scams linked to the COVID-19 pandemic have cost Americans $586 million since the beginning of 2020. The victims targeted were online shoppers, travelers and others. Many were victims of “opportunistic websites” claiming to sell popular items; anything from hand sanitizer and gloves to electronics, clothing and animals. Items were ordered, but customers never received them. Don’t do it!
Another fraudulent activity is when you get a telephone call from someone who informs you that a family member or friend desperately need your financial assistance. They prey on the fact that the family member is either sick or in some type of trouble and they need money right away. It could even be the result of a virtual kidnapping where someone claim they are holding the person. Do not fall for going to the bank and depositing funds in an unknown account. Don’t do it!
The Church is constantly under scrutiny due to the inappropriate behavior of pastors. It was recently reported that a Maryland pastor was arrested on fraud for charges after buying 39 cars with $1.5 million of Paycheck Protection Program Funds. Another pastor is spending 6 years in prison for fraud scheme involving worthless Chinese bonds. We must use caution on every side when dealing with human beings. I guess the pain is the greatest when we put our trust in a fellow man or woman and then we are deceived.
A very familiar story in the Bible tells of how Jacob scammed his brother Esau out of his birthright in exchange for a dish of pottage. Later, Jacob did another scam where he took advantage of Isaac’s poor eyesight to receive the birth right blessing. Jacob did not wait on the Lord to receive his promise of blessing and instead resorted to deception to receive it.
The message today is really simple, “Beware of the wolves dressed in sheep clothing.” Please accept this as warning and caution.
Listen to your instincts. If you feel it is easy money or gain, pass it by.
“Bread of deceit is sweet to man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.” Proverbs 20:17
Not a sermon, just my thoughts!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor