These days nothing is certain except death, taxes and… various scams

EVER received one of those emails promising you millions of dollars in commission if you help the widow of Nigeria’s former Finance Minister? Like me, you’ve doubtless laughed at the offer, amazed the author admits to coming from Nigeria (famous for this scam) and didn’t make his message more convincing and original.

What probably hasn’t struck you is that this incompetence is deliberate.

After all, it doesn’t cost much to send an email to thousands of people trying to entice us into cooperating.

What does cost time and money is getting the cash out of those of us who reply.

The fraudsters don’t want to waste their efforts on people who’ll cotton on part way through they’re falling into a trap.

It’s better they realise this at the start and never reply.

So the ‘incompetent’ email acts as a filter to weed out the most gullible.

Those the criminals lavish their attention upon are therefore those most likely to fall for the scam and end up relieved of their life savings.

And the moral? Maybe the best advice nowadays is, sadly: ‘Trust nobody.’ For instance, a burglar posing as someone needing help or asking to use your phone to trick their way into your home and walk out with your wallet.

If you really believe a caller’s genuine, crossexamine him to check his story stands up.

So, how do you sleuth out deception? Look for telling signals that point to dishonesty: repetition, changing the subject, telling a story in chronological order.

Someone who’s lying may freeze their upper body, look you in the eyes a bit too much, fake a smile.

One or two of these ‘tells’ doesn’t amount to lying – unlike when you start to see a pattern emerge.

Now, telling a white lie in order not to offend and flattering someone with ‘compliments’ are both natural deceits adopted at an early age.

In public and private life, white lies are part of our survival mechanism.

But when deception becomes a previously trusted person’s modus operandi, when deception becomes their default position, we should all be on our guard.

As the latest thriller in my Alice Myers crime series, Landscape of Lies, shows, lying – from everyday half-truths to outright deceit – undercuts all aspects of human life.

And death …

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Landscape of Lies,’ ‘Retribution,’ ‘Soul Stealer,’ ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.

com) available from Amazon in paperback/ eBook (€0.89;£0.79) and iBookstore.

Profits to Cudeca.


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Written by

Nora Johnson

Nora is the author of popular psychological suspense and crime thrillers and a freelance journalist.


    • Grace McNabola

      19 April 2015 • 13:55

      Hi Nora
      Just read your article “Death taxes etc”. and all the scams associated with this. I, and my society, are avid readers and members of many book clubs. I am writing to ask you if you would consider coming to us sometime to give a talk on your novels, the creative process and really what makes you tick! If you have a look at the website it explains what we do in more detail Many thanks Grace

    • Kevin

      21 April 2015 • 08:18

      You are so right. The number of emails I get from Nigeria telling me to contact them to claim my millions of dollars from a lottery or help them transfer money to the UK and I will get my cut!

      Why only this morning I received an e-mail from a Nigerian prince who wanted to share his inheritance with me. Then one at lunchtime and three this evening…

    • Claire

      24 April 2015 • 15:38

      Having been the attempted victim of a scam operated from Nigeria only a couple of weeks ago, my main surprise was that people still try it on -they must succeed sometimes to carry on doing it.


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