I recently wrote ten (10) tips to help you keep away from fraud and cyber crimes (Click to read); here are five more powerful tips that will help you stay safe from con artists.

Dear (valued) customer (or any generic greetings) is a pointer to fraud.

Next time you receive a message from a financial institution, be sure they are addressing you by your first name. Be sure you are addressed as “Dear John" if your name is John.

Most impostors won't have your personal information the first time they send message to you. They then use generic information like, "Dear User", "Dear Customer", and “Dear Valued Customer"

Here's a message I received recently by e-mail. The message came from a fraudulent source but it seemed like it came from "Access Bank":

Dear Valued Customer

This is to bring to your notice that your AccessOnline account has been listed to be de-activated.

This is because you have not validated your Biometric Verification Number with your AccessOnline account.

Follow this reference to START VALIDATION

All information must be filled correctly

NOTE: All atm and internet banking channel will be disabled and your remote access will be blocked within 12 hours failure to comply

Did you notices red flags in this message? Have you received such message recently?

"Too good to be true" is most of the time NOT true.

Have you received a juicy offer recently? Promising you huge sum of money or handsome reward for your "blind" loyalty? Don't fall for it! It is most likely a trap set for you by scam artists.

It feels good to think that a stranger is going to hand out $1 million to you. Only that it's too good to be true, so don't take it seriously! I got the following message from a scammer recently:

I have already diverted the funds to an escrow account belonging to no one in the bank. The bank is anxious now to know who the beneficiary to the funds is because they have made a lot of profits with the funds. It is more than Eight years now the minister had died and no one to claim these very funds.

The (€25million Euros) has been laying waste in our bank and I don’t want to retire from the bank without transferring the funds to a foreign account to enable me share the proceeds with the receiver. The money will be shared 50/50.I only want you to assist me by providing a reliable bank account where the funds can be transferred. 

Have you received such message recently? They want to lure you into a big con scheme. Don't fall for it!

When a caller (or anybody on at distance) ask you to guess (or suggest an information), begin to let your guards up.

"Guessing" is one of the games (or tools) used by con men, to retrieve information from their victims. Next time someone ask you to provide information by guessing, deliberately provide the wrong information and play along. You will be amazed to see how you would unveil their enterprise.  

Imagine you receive a call from an unknown number or even a foreign number.

YOU: Hello

Caller: Hello (using a friendly voice to sound like a familiar person)

YOU: Who is this? (anxious)

Caller: Guess who this is? (trying to find out a close person, you think might be calling)

YOU: I don't like guessing o. Can you just tell me, who this is? (letting down your guards, already trusting the caller)

Caller: who do you know in London? (Get straight to business)
YOU: Uncle Akin, right? (you are in trouble, if you actually have an uncle called Akin.)

Caller: Yes, yes yes! That's me. "Oga o", you don't even recognise the voice of your uncle again.

YOU: Ema binu sir (Apologies)

And so, the conversation starts and the impostor ask you to do something that the real person never asked of you before. Have you had a similar experience before? How did it turn out?

Endeavour to verify all requests for favor.

Return calls; contact them using other means; not the one they used to contact you. It is possible for con artists to impersonate your close allies so as to receive favor from you. Beware! Call back all friends and family members asking you for cash or other valuables.

When you want to call back, don't use the contact information they used to contact you. Use the last (verified) information you used to contact them.

You (abi your enemy) received a call from an hospital, a close person is in the emergency unit: you need to wire them money, urgently, it's a matter of life and death.

A lot of people receive such calls daily; most of the calls originate from fraudsters.

Getting through to the supposed victim is an easy way to get the right information. Knowledge is power :)

Confidentiality with a stranger almost always leads to perpetual foolishness and ignorance.

A perfect time to panic is when a stranger asks you not to panic. A perfect time to leak a secret is when a stranger asks you to keep it.

99.9% of con men plead for confidentiality and secrecy. It is safe for you to conclude that you are dealing with a scammer, if one of the first few requests they make is for you to keep secrets. Fraudsters need secrecy because they know people are easily fooled in isolation.

Abraham Lincoln said; "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

Here's an excerpt from an e-mail that I received recently, highlighting the "smart" request for confidentiality by a scam artist:

Before I introduce myself, I wish to inform you that this letter is a very important one and I urge you to treat it serious. This letter must come to you as a big surprise, but I believe it is only a day that people meet and become great friends and business partners. Please I want you to read this letter very carefully and I must apologize for barging this message into your mail box without any formal introduction due to the urgency and confidentiality of this business and I know that this message will come to you as a surprise. Please this is not a joke and I will not like you to joke with it ok, 

With due respect to your person and much sincerity of purpose, I make this contact with you as I believe that you can be of great assistance to me. My name is Sr. Gulliver Fritsch, from Paris France. I am a telex manager in a bank here in my country, please see this as a confidential message and do not reveal it to another person and let me know whether you can be of assistance regarding my proposal below because it is top secret.

Can you see red flags?