Don’t Click Here, Please ***
Mary Ellen and I promised each other that during our recent vacation we would not check our emails. At dinner each night, we conversed and learned a great deal about each other, things that have happened to each of us since we got our first cell phones in 1990.
When we returned home, we eagerly retrieved our messages.
“Mary Ellen, this is awesome. While we were away, I won a DEWALT Power Station.”
“Hey, that’s great. Guess what? So did I. What’s a DEWALT Power Station?”
“No clue, but now we have two.”
This was just one of over 40 emails we got telling us we won something, which we didn’t. In order to win, you must click on a link and answer a survey, at which time you are informed that you won nothing, but…
1. You have a chance to win something
2. You have the opportunity to win something
3. You are in the running to win something
Not only did I have a chance to own a DEWALT Power Station, but also a DEWALT Drill, a Yukon Stove Fire Pit, a gift certificate to Walmart, Ultimate non-stick cookware, a Yeti Cooler and a Samsung Neo 8K QLED Smart TV. I didn’t know where NOT to click first. Walgreens was thanking me for being a loyal customer, but I have never been in a Walgreens in my life. I am a loyal CVS patron, but all they ever gave me for free was a two-foot-long receipt.
Wait: Incoming! I just received a “shipment pending” notice for a Keurig Coffee Maker and I have “won” a Ryobi Lawn Mower.
I’m no expert in this area, but there are several clues to determine scams. Here are some real examples I received. Read each one carefully.
WIN AN GOLF CART
THEIRS A PRIZE WAITING OR YOU!
YOUR A WINNER!
YOU HAVE WON A FREE GIFT
The phrase “Free Gift” is not only suspicious, it’s redundant. Clearly, a fake scam—which I know is also redundant.
Some of these language goofs are because the scammers are not English-speaking. Other mistakes are on purpose in order to either get your attention or to avoid detection by anti-spam programs. I tried using those last two excuses on my proofreader, Heidi, to justify some of my blunders in spelling and grammar. I was surprised she didn’t fall for them. Who needs her, anyway?
The rip-offs often include an additional method to motivate you, like a countdown clock that tells you how much time you have left to click on the link or the offer goes away.
“Honey, I know you are breastfeeding the twins, but drop what you are doing or we are going to lose out on that free sump pump from Ace.”
My favorite come-on is
YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO TRY CANNABLISS CBD
Yes, and congraluations to all who have wisely avoided these bogus offers. I never click on a questionable link, but I am tempted by this CBD product, which is has the shape and texture of a gummy bear. Before I decide, I am going to have to chew on it for a while.
Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@ aol.com.