Most of us have received an unsolicited email regarding a certain Nigerian prince who, inexplicably, needs help getting his money out of Nigeria. I was 22 when I received my first email. It seemed very strange that a prince from another country would seek out a college student, living on Ramen, to secure his money. Naturally, I would be rewarded with millions of dollars for my help.
I hit delete.
Sadly, a lot of people have fallen for this con. According to CNBC.com, by April of this year, these scams were raking “in over $700,000 a year.” Still? I feel bad for these people, I do, but the old concept stands: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Besides the embarrassment that comes from being taken advantage of, there is now a little more salt added to the wound: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
In 2014, Julie Jason, money manager and writing for Timesunion.com, spoke about a person who was scammed. Jason wrote that this person could “claim a deduction on her 2013 tax return as a ‘theft loss’.” Of course, the IRS would have wanted evidence that the victim had contacted law enforcement and couldn’t be reimbursed by insurance. Finally, Jason pointed out that the “loss has to be significant for the deduction to make a difference.”
Cold comfort, sure, but comfort, nonetheless.
With the changes brought about by The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, even this small bit of solace seems to be a thing of the past. According to Investopedia.com, you once were able to “deduct losses related to a…theft to the extent that those losses were not covered by insurance or disaster relief.” Now, however, the deduction is only “still available if you live in a presidentially designated disaster zone.”
At the end of the day, don’t give your personal information, your money or even your time to someone you don’t know over the internet or telephone. If, suddenly, a gorgeous 18-year-old wants to talk to you and, perhaps, borrow just a little bit of money, question the motivation. And keep in mind, there is, most likely, no princes with your name at the top of their “Go-To” list today.
Our Bourke Accounting experts are no scammers. When they say they’ll assist with your bookkeeping and tax needs, you can count on it. If you do discover that you’re a victim of a con game, our Bourke Accounting associates can offer good advice to help you deal with the losses you have suffered. And, as always, Bourke Accounting associates will never judge.
Written by Sue H.