It`s become a never-ending battle of wits as more and more scam artists attempt to take advantage of people through schemes that are becoming more and more elaborate.

An Alabama woman who was recently taken in by a scam was actually very lucky – she has gotten back $16,800, following a joint U.S. and Canadian investigation into fraudulent telemarketers that were passing themselves off as lottery officials.

According to U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement the woman – who didn`t want her identity released – got her money back, on May 14th.

She told authorities that she had no idea how complex and official-sounding the schemes could be; the woman said she received letters and phone calls that seemed completely legitimate, adding that the telemarketers appeared to know a lot about her and her family.

Unfortunately, most of these stories do not have a happy ending – and once money has been sent – especially out of the country – it`s almost impossible to get back.

WEIS Radio News was recently given a copy of a letter received by one of our listeners – a letter that claimed to be from a `branch manager` of a bank in South Africa. After a long and purposely confusing `explanation` the bottom line was supposedly this – there was a bank account consisting of $118 million and with the receipients co-operation they (the branch manager) and the recipient would split the proceeds.

At that point they request – what else – your personal private information WHICH can easily then be used to clear out YOUR bank account and run up untold amounts of debt in your name.

No matter what the method – through letters e-mail or telephone – if someone contacts you and is requesting private information, do not cooperate under any circumstances. Toss it in the garbage – delete it – or hang up.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true – it usually is.

WEIS Radio