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I am not sure if I should be asking this in these forums, but I am going to do it anyway.

I am a 16 year old boy who has overheard my mum speaking to some guy on the phone. I heard her talking about paying for this "signature" and to send the money over so that some people could forge this signature so that he could then send some money over, she has been talking to him for some months now. Recently I found 2 £100 steam codes gift cards and the codes were scratched out (I assume it was sent to him) I asked her about it and she said it was for her friend who was a doctor and he lived in Africa so he wasn't able to get steam cards where he is.

I am just extremely worried because I don't want her to be scammed, could anyone help me out. I know what I said was very vague but that's all the information I have.

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    Your Mom is 100% being scammed, and even worse, SHE could end up in serious trouble. You should realize that this will go from bad to worse. The team that is currently scamming your Mom, have now literally put her on a list of "easy to scam targets". The situation is much more serious that you may think. The next step within days could be physical scammers showing up at your place in your country. It needs to stop instantly. – Fattie Oct 14 at 13:46
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    If you can imagine a scam, some human somewhere sometime has probably tried it. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Oct 14 at 18:50
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    HUGE red flag on gift cards, Steam cards especially. This is a really common strategy for scammers these days and Steam cards in particular are good because a lot of older folks don't realize Steam is an online video game storefront. – Beefster Oct 14 at 20:44
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    It has ALL the red flags for a scam combined into one. "Doctor in Africa who can't get (insert anything here)". "Send money to (insert anything here) so he can send her money". The course of action depends on your relationship with your mum, and how strongly she believes the person on the phone (the best (worst?) scammers are those who get the victim in a romantic relationship). You could try talking to her if she trusts you and is not completely under the spell of the scammer. Otherwise you'll need to talk to your grandparents, other parent, uncles/aunts, your mum's best friend... – jcaron Oct 14 at 23:28
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    @Fattie Even worse: someone shows up at the door. "Hi, I'm Inspector Nefarious from the Internet Crimes Division. It looks like you've sent some money to Bobby Badguy, which appeared in our fraud division for further investigation. Normally, the fine for something like this would be $2000. But in exchange for your testimony today, I can make sure this doesn't appear on your record if you just pay $1000 cash." – GalacticCowboy Oct 15 at 19:29
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Yes there are many scams like what you describe. Criminals like money, and as one movie villain said "the best kind of money is .... other people's money!"

Popular game and music codes are easy to convert back to money. It is easy for the scammer to resell these locally.

It is difficult to tell what the scam is from your description, but fake romances, fake charities, fake immigration documents and pretty much anything fake is a possibility. Sometimes the fake is like an adventure, and real money is needed to complete the fake adventure, or to avoid a fake danger (oh, a corrupt official needs a bribe, oh his superior found out and now he needs a bribe too, etc.).

Many scams will escalate from small favors towards larger ones (money for a plane ticket or travel-related emergency for a romance or to help a sick child for fake charity, perhaps) until the victim blows up. Keep in mind that scams can work because people want to believe the scam (a fake romance with a doctor; $100 million of found money), or because of threats or extortion, or for other reasons.

So as a minor, your best course of action is to first involve your parents, then involve your extended family members such as aunts and uncles. Sometimes, a counselor or teacher at school can help, or a policeman or policewoman. The polite way to do this is by expressing concern and asking polite questions. Pictures of the codes and receipts, or screenshots of what they cost, may be helpful in convincing family members about your worries in the case that your mother is mentally tricked by a scammer.

Sometimes families or even the police may not be immediately helpful. But whatever you do, do not communicate with the scammers directly. If the scammers interact in person, that would be a good reason to talk to the police because that is a more dangerous situation than being scammed over the internet.

I suspect you may know this already -- the internet is a public place, and criminals read the internet. For that reason, you should not post personal details such as your home address, email addresses, or things like that anywhere on the internet, nor should you PM those things to anyone.

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    Which movie villain is that? I couldn't find the quote. – Flux Oct 14 at 7:45
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    @Flux It was probably the activist investor played by Danny DeVito in Other People's Money. – Arne Oct 14 at 8:15
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    "Keep in mind that scams can work because people want to believe the scam" A very common reason is also that people love to get in on semi-legal or outright illegal ideas with the promise of easy money. OPs description of "sending a signature to forge a signature" sounds a little bit like this - more likely this isn't a romance scheme, but a get rich quick scheme. These are even worse, because OP's mum may not only get scammed out of money but may actually get involved in criminal activity. – xLeitix Oct 14 at 10:30
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    "So as a minor, your best course of action is to first involve your parents, then involve your extended family members such as aunts and uncles." - don't forget "your mother's best friend". – d-b Oct 14 at 10:49
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    Thank you, I have contacted my auntie because she's better at talking to my mum then I am. – clxud Oct 14 at 17:10
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This is extremely serious and needs to be stopped instantly - today.

I can only see two routes,

  1. Immediately phone someone like an Aunt or Uncle, if there is such a person, and tell them everything.

  2. Walk to the police station and tell them everything.

Your Mom is going to be pissed at you for awhile. You're just going to have to accept that.

Do 1 or 2 as soon as you read this.

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    Thank you so much! this means a lot to me. – clxud Oct 14 at 17:11
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    I wish someone was there to help in person! All I can do is encourage you to act TODAY. Good luck and let us know if you're ok – Fattie Oct 14 at 17:15
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    Can the police actually do anything? – Loren Pechtel Oct 16 at 3:15
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    Can you please elaborate why is this extremely serious? What are the other risks except the obvious of losing some money? – FallenBoeingRedemption Oct 16 at 3:25
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    @FallenBoeingRedemption Easy scam targets become criminal fronts for money laundering. The criminals know what they're doing and can funnel a LOT of money out of a gullible target. Heaven forbid Social Security Numbers were given out along with physical address... These two pieces of information translates into mortgages, of which all of it will disappear and the OP's mom will be on the hook. – Nelson Oct 16 at 6:46
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Uhmmm... what if your mum is the scammer? The evil one? Let's try a different interpretation.

I won't focus on the African friend part, but on this

I heard her talking about paying for this "signature" and to send the money over so that some people could forge this signature so that he could then send some money over

To me, this sounds like a fake cheque scam. According to my information (not verifiable), banks don't have a strong tendency to perfectly match the signature on the cheques with the specimen provided by the account holder. A counterfeit signature is an easy task because it requires a forensic to be busted.

There are a number of scams related to fake/stolen cheques.

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    Sounds more like a classic 419 scam to me. – Mark Morgan Lloyd Oct 14 at 10:40
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    It's an interesting point, but if she were knowingly part of the scam then she wouldn't be buying the Steam cards herself (she'd be getting others to buy them for her and tell her the codes so she can send them on,) therefore OP wouldn't have found scratched off Steam cards around the house. More likely, the forgery thing is the next stage in the scam, dealing with larger sums of money. OP's mom may think she's part of something shady that will pay off for her, but really she's part of something shady that will backfire on her. – Steve-O Oct 14 at 13:54
  • Seriously? If she was part of it, she wouldn't be the one buying the gift cards. – The Daleks Oct 15 at 14:23
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    Maybe usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ is the scammer and trying to throw us of their track. – Ben Oct 16 at 13:23
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    Any stranger with a Greek-ish nickname and a Neverwinter-Night-ish avatar is suspect for scam 😄 – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Oct 16 at 13:27

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