Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Scams Are Arriving the Old-School Way

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Scams Are Arriving the Old-School Way

Article excerpt

No matter how many modern scammers prefer electronic means to entice victims, some still do well with old-school snail mail.

And why not? There's often something more believable about a document you can hold in your hand, rather than an e-message. That's especially so if the document is supposed to seem to be a public notice sent by a government agency or the like.

As it happens -- and ironically enough -- Manatee County just used a Twitter message to warn people about a bogus postcard come- on residents are getting in the mail.

That mailer gives many the impression it was sent by the county utilities department. The mailer -- or so victims are led to believe -- is an "Important Water Quality Notice" sent by the "the Water Plant." It informs us that "The Water Plant will be in the area testing your water," at no charge, because of possible pollution.

It gives a phone number to call to arrange for testers to come by at a convenient time. It urges this be done very soon.

Well, don't. There's no chemical spill or similar issue in your neighborhood.

"A water scam is afoot," as the county's Tweet puts it. That mailer "does NOT come from -- nor is it affiliated with -- MC Utility System."

But while the mailed notice is tricky, it technically doesn't lie, I guess. "Water Plant" is not an official name for any government utility, and sneaky fast-talkers who use the name aren't necessarily posing as working for one, arguably. The Water Plant name may invite us to think it came from the people responsible for sending us our water, but the mailer never quite says so.

Anyone misled into calling no doubt soon finds that someone will indeed show up to do some sort of water test, or pretend to. The residents will then be told they much need an expensive water filtration system, or something of that sort, is my guess.

Water-filter scammers in general must love the help they get from real news events. That chemical-tank spill that ruined so many people's drinking water a few states north of us must be ideal. …

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