Today we had someone on our forum comment that, as the content of an email was a request for money (as in an online “begging letter”) then it wasn’t a scam. Do we agree with this? Is a begging letter a scam? Well, yes and no. Let me explain this by offering up a scenario. Imagine that I’m homeless. The only way I can get money is to ask strangers for help. Am I scamming them? Of course not. I’m being honest about my situation, and they can choose whether to give money or not. Now let’s switch this around. I live in a big house, drive a fancy car, but spend my days out on the streets pretending to be homeless and asking for money. Am I scamming now? Of course I am. And why? Well, because now I’m lying about my situation. I’m using deception as a way to make money. That’s the key element here, the deception part. I imagine you know what a 419 scam is. It’s likely you ended up on this site because you received one. If you don’t know, and you stumbled in here by accident, then it’s those pesky emails you receive, usually offering you a huge amount of money in exchange for a smaller amount up front. It’s called a 419 scam after article 419 of the Nigerian criminal code, which forbids receiving money or goods by deception. There’s that word again – deception. If somebody is asking for money for a genuine reason then it’s not a scam. If they however are asking for money and lying about the reason they need it, then it’s a scam. This works both in the “real world” and online. Hopefully that clears it up. Here’s a video you can watch that shows a pretty good example, and there’s plenty more you can watch.