Advent tip #13: Take care if internet friends ask for money

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Lots of us have friends in the new-school sense of people that we think we know pretty well, but whom we’ve never actually met.

We “know” them via email, Twitter, Instagram, or in any of a number of online ways.

Unfortunately, some internet friendships aren’t what they seem – because it’s easy to pretend to be someone different from what you really are online.

And there is a whole school of cybercrookery that devotes itself to relationship-based scams.

Sometimes these unfold at the level of a full-blown online romance, but the internet is also full of horror stories about fraudulent business relationships and personal friendships.

It could be a work-from-home job offer that requires you to accept deposits through your bank account and pay on on the money to a third party, less a cut for your troubles.

It could be a casual online friendship where money will suddenly enter the equation, with the other person starting to put the pressure on for you to help with expenses, join in an investment scheme, or similar.

It might even be an urgent but bogus electronic message from a real-world friend whose account has been hacked, unexpectedly asking for an urgent money transfer because they’ve been mugged while on holiday, or had their hotel room cleaned out, or any of a number of variations.

We’re not suggesting you need to be ruthless and hard-hearted this holiday season…

…but please be careful when an internet relationship moves into the “about the money” stage.

As carpenters like to say, “Measure twice, cut once.”

Images of Christmas tree and Advent calendar courtesy of Shutterstock.