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 VOL. 9, ISSUE 6 - JUNE 2016

In This Issue

Hook, Line and Swindle

Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

An Enjoyable Way to Learn How to Avoid the Latest Scams

Consumer Feedback:
Empire Auto Repair & Smog


New
Diamond Certified Companies


Savvy Tips of the Month

Drought and California

Tips for Tire Inflation

Welcome to Your Consumer Resource Center


Diamond Certified Quick Links

SAVVY CONSUMER TIPS

DIAMOND CERTIFIED
PREFERRED CONSUMER


DIAMOND CERTIFIED
COMPANIES


PERFORMANCE
GUARANTEE


DIAMOND CERTIFIED
DIFFERENCE

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Hook, Line and Swindle


My book club just finished reading and discussing a book called I Do Not Come to You by Chance, which is set in Nigeria and written by Nigerian author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani. What’s fascinating about the story is that it takes the reader inside the world of Nigerian 419 scammers (419 refers to the Nigerian Criminal Code section that deals with fraud, charges and penalties for offenders). Such advance fee scams are simply a confidence trick: the victim is promised a share of a large sum of money in return for a small upfront payment, which the fraudulent operator says is needed to obtain the large sum. More fees may be requested after the first payment, or the fraudster will just disappear.

You’ve probably received one of those spam emails from a Nigerian government official asking you to help with a complex financial transaction and quickly hit the delete button because it sounded so absurd (see examples here). However, enough people from all over the world take the bait, which generates enormous wealth for some individuals. Law enforcement in the U.S. and abroad have had little success in shutting down these operations.

The book’s main character, Kingsley Ibe, is a young man with a good education who doesn’t have the political connections to get a proper job in Nigeria. After his father dies, he feels an obligation to support his family and ends up working for his Uncle Boniface, whose nickname is Cash Daddy. Cash Daddy is making a fortune running an email scam empire. The story reveals the process, step-by-step, by which both gullible and greedy people are seduced into participating in the schemes. Readers also gain some insight into the victims’ behavior and a better understanding of how and why 419ers are such a large industry (some say the third largest) in Nigeria.

You still might be asking yourself, “Who falls for this stuff?” Experts who’ve studied financial fraud agree that there’s no easy answer. Researchers find no correlation between a person’s age, race, gender, educational level or financial literacy and their likelihood of being ripped off by scammers like the 419ers. Different kinds of fraud seem to work on different types of people.

One thing the experts do agree on is that consumers are less rational (and therefore more vulnerable to bad decision-making) when they’re in an emotional state of arousal. So, if you’re a little too excited about an offer, you’re probably not thinking clearly. That’s the best time to take a step back, seek advice from a friend or family member and do your homework before parting with any money.

Chris Bjorklund signature
Chris BjorklundChris Bjorklund
The Savvy Consumer
Email: chrisbjorklund@diamondcertified.org
Twitter: twitter.com/ASavvyConsumer
Blog: blog.diamondcertified.org

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Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer Card

Diamond Certified® Preferred Customer Card

Have you signed up to become a Diamond Certified Preferred Consumer? Membership is always free and comes with numerous benefits, including a special member hotline, members-only access to additional tools on diamondcertified.org, a double Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee and more. Join now to get a free copy of the 2016 Summer Diamond Certified Directory Update! Visit www.diamondcertified.org/user/register to get started.
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An Enjoyable Way to Learn How to Avoid the Latest Scams

 
James Veitch takes a comedic approach to exposing scams on his YouTube series, “Scamalot.”

Have you ever been tempted to play along with the scammers who send email spam? Maybe it’s a request to help a friend who lost a passport or an offer to buy diamonds worth $7.5 million. Another spam come-on suggests becoming a gold distributor. Intrigued by the idea of responding to these emails instead of deleting them, British comedian James Veitch decided this was an opportunity to show consumers how the scams work in a video series called “Scamalot.”

With the gold offer, for example, James tells the scammer he’s not only interested in buying some gold, he wants to buy a lot of gold. The seller offers 25 kilograms, but James says he wants a metric ton. As he’s sharing the email conversation on the video, he’s pointing out spelling errors and other dubious claims being made. By the end of the video, I guarantee you’ll be cracking up. New episodes of “Scamalot” are posted every Friday on YouTube.

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Kudos from Diamond Certified Consumers

Dear Diamond Certified,

On November 18, 2015, I took my car to Empire Auto Repair & Smog for a smog check. After I paid, the owner, Dave Proffer, said that if I could bring in my car the next day, he would remove the blue paint from the driver’s side doors. When I asked how much that would cost, he waved his hand. I assumed that meant “no charge.” I had previously received estimates of $100 to $150.

When I returned the next day, he removed the blue paint. I asked him, “How much?” and he said, “No charge. I told you that yesterday.” Dave certainly lives up to the Diamond Certified standards and beyond. He made me grateful and happy. He is to be commended!

Sincerely,
M.S., Santa Rosa


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Diamond Certified ® Only companies rated Highest in Quality earn Diamond Certified

Companies Recently Earning Diamond Certified

SAN FRANCISCO

Simply Balanced
San Francisco – (415) 497-9657
SolarUnion
San Francisco -- (888) 363-9373

SAN MATEO COUNTY
Julie Flouty - Alain Pinel Realtors
Burlingame -- (650) 375-1111
Trevor Leung - Today Sotheby’s International Realty
San Carlos -- (415) 683-1013

SANTA CLARA COUNTY
Irwin Construction
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SONOMA COUNTY
California Dreaming Construction

Petaluma -- (707) 815-0832
Master’s Touch Upholstery
Santa Rosa -- (707) 578-9495
Priceless Auto Glass
Santa Rosa -- (707) 544-6666
Squeegee Master
Cloverdale -- (707) 576-1922


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