Is it me?

John Davies is a senior corporate partner at leading commercial law firm Thrings. As a TBE columnist, John regularly addresses a topical news or business-related issue. This time John talks scams and scammers.

You would have thought that time away with the family in the Cyprus sunshine would mean I’d returned to work feeling suitably rested and relaxed. Well I was, but I’m already grumpy again. Actually, I’m really grumpy this time. This is up there with my anger over litter so please forgive me while I take a minute of your time to have a rant. Again.

Scams and scammers. A friend of mine was recently hit by a sophisticated scam. The scammers in question essentially targeted vulnerable people and scared them into handing over money – in this case they pretended to be HMRC and took thousands of pounds from an innocent, law-abiding citizen.

I was shocked to begin with. Then a little confused as to how the scam worked, and ultimately angry that yet again people in society who are least able to protect themselves get hit by criminals with no conscience.

It’s not the first time I’ve used this phrase in my ‘Is it me?’ column, but what is wrong with some people?

I’m angry because the people behind this scam, and a million other scams just like it, are obviously intelligent, smart thinkers. They are able to devise strategies, create solutions, formulate mechanics and plan logistics. They are able to mobilise a workforce around them, secure loyalty (in a criminal arena). They are able to work efficiently, effectively and quietly. They have the ability to build empires. They are driven. They are essentially the entrepreneurs of the Dark Side.

And there we have it. Clever people with all the tools to do something good, useful and worthwhile, and yet they turn to the shadows, disconnect their moral compasses and prey on the weak.

What makes me angry is that I’m sure so many of these people could use their intelligence and skills to create real business initiatives in society. Create wealth the right way. Help people. They obviously have the tools, yet they choose to use them in the pursuit of misery. I wonder how much these criminals could contribute if they redirected their efforts in the right way.

Of course, it’s not just the elderly and the vulnerable that are being targeted either. Sophisticated systems and software are constantly trying to infiltrate businesses. No one is safe, whether you’re sat in your living room or sat in your office. All we can really do is stay vigilant and informed. Whether it’s on the phone or a cyber attack, sadly it seems that the bad guys are here to stay. I don’t have a silver bullet. I’m just annoyed.

As a postscript, the litter thing is really bugging me too. Since my article in April about how the actions of a few anti-bin bandits are spoiling things for the rest of us right-minded folk, I’ve had a huge response and a show of solidarity.

Keep fighting, troops, keep fighting!

John Davies

e: jdavies@thrings.com

t: 01793 412634

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