Australians are swindled out of at least $50 million a year by local and international telephone scammers linked to organised crime, according to a recent article on News.com.
These sliver-tongued cold callers, often supported by slick websites, promise high returns for an average investment of $20 000 to $30 000.
Surprisingly, their main targets are not little old ladies but educated, computer-literate men in their 50s and 60s, who consider themselves financially savvy.
According to the article, these crooked businesses change like chameleons, are extremely difficult to pin down and expensive to prosecute, and the best advice the police can give is “just hang up”.
It got me wondering as to what motivates people to invest in these schemes.
I imagine that these middle to older age Australians, recently retired or facing retirement, are either fearful that their nest egg will not support them through their old age, or greedy for it to be even bigger.
Isn’t it true that just about all of us, asked how much is “enough”, would answer “just a little bit more”?
This discontent with what we have and greed for more, feeds into the hands of advertisers and marketers on a daily basis, and directly relates to the reason why we don’t “just hang up” when someone promises us big returns in an “exclusive” scheme that pays out quickly.
Fear and greed are not modern afflictions, and the Apostle Paul, in the Bible, might be speaking directly to a 21st-century audience when he says insightfully: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
Jesus addressed both our greed and our fear in His Sermon on the Mount.
He warned His disciples in Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And He told the parable of the rich man who stored up more and more in his barns, but whose life was taken from him in an instant and his goods went to another.
Then He said not to worry about not having enough but to trust in God’s provision for His children.
In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus exhorts us: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
The bottom line? “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Hang up on those dodgy con artists and look up to God who promises to supply all your needs according to His riches in glory! (Philippians 4:19)