People’s Champion - March 13, 2014

A refugee in South Sudan

A country ravaged by years of bitter civil war and conflict

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Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.

Q I’ve received through the post an impressive-looking prize cheque for £25,000. The letter that came with it says I need to pay to have it cleared. This looks too good to be true. Is it a scam?

DN (e-mail)

A There is an old saying that investigators are fond of bandying around when looking into any suspicious activity. They claim that: ‘If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it probably is a duck.’

This applies perfectly to your very convincing cheque. The bank it’s drawn on doesn’t exist. Do yourself a favour. Bin it.

Q On seeing an attractive offer I traded in my old freezer in part exchange for a new one, paying the difference in cash. Does this affect my rights if there’s a fault with the new appliance?

EMF (email)

A Your rights are exactly the same as if you’d paid the full price for the freezer. A part-exchange deal doesn’t take any of them away.

Q I’ve received an official winning notification from an outfit calling itself the Microsoft Global e-mail lottery claiming I’ve won a million euros. It’s signed by a Rosemary Van Ken from Holland. Is this genuine?

GH (e-mail)

A Oh no, not our Rosemary again!

Seriously, Rosemary is a bit of a pain in the butt. She e-mails from the UK, yet purports to reside in the Netherlands. She even mails from a mobile address, just to make it difficult for you to trace her, and ask a few pointed questions.

Bill Gates may have officially retired from Microsoft but he’s never been so hard up that he has to diversify from his software empire into the lottery business.

This scam isn’t even original. Rosemary was sending out her beguiling e-mails five years ago and it appears she’s back in the sucker’s market.

Zap the mail and console yourself with the thought that the rather curiously-named Mrs Van Ken (don’t even think about pronouncing both syllables as one) won’t be taking you for a ride.