Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15 NAS)
When a job seeker responded to an online ad for a customer service job opening, he thought it would be one of a hundred small acts he did that might get him back to work. With most of his e-mail messages to prospective employers going unanswered, he was relieved when a company replied with a work-from-home job.
To help him get started with his home office, the company sent him money orders so he could purchase via money wire the requisite laptop and other equipment from several different people. The job seeker deposited nine United States Postal Service money orders into his bank account and wired a total of nearly $8,000 to the various vendors. Neither the laptop nor anything else however was received, and the money orders turned out to be already cashed or counterfeit. This scam was reported in The New York Times by Riva Richmond on August 5, 2009. Scams such as this are still prevalent today.
“Looking back at the whole thing I was very, very naïve, but I needed a job so bad,” said the victim of the scam. “I’m behind in everything. I’m behind in my rent. I’m behind in all the bills I’m responsible for. It has wiped me out financially.”
Many people have fallen prey to scammers and criminals out of desperation seeking for jobs or ways to even the odds amid financial setback. The fraud-fueled bank crisis which precipitated the recession that lingers till this day, for example, is a case of what could happen if we unwittingly fall victim to moneymaking schemers who might have set sophisticated traps to draw us in.
Suggestions given in The New York Times article on protecting ourselves from common frauds include being skeptical, doing our homework and research, limiting our personal information online, and going low tech via local want ads, agencies or personal networks.
Like the need to protect ourselves against scammers and criminals, Jesus warned us to beware of the false prophets who come to us in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. We will know them by their fruits, for a good tree cannot produce bad fruit nor can a bad tree produce good fruit (Matthew 7:15-16, 18). Any prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in the name of the Lord, and the thing does not come about or come true, is a false prophet. Such a one, we need not be afraid (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Many will in Christ’s name say “I am He” and mislead many (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24). Such will on the day of the Lord say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” Then our Lord will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23).
Are we at risk of falling into a trap in our desperate need for a job to make ends meet or to tide over a financial setback? If we are, let us not in our haste fall prey to scammers or criminals but do our homework well in researching and knowing all parties involved. Are we hearing strange teachings or predictions from people who claim to be of God? Beware of false prophets and teachers whose aim is to mislead many, even the elect. Rather than fall victim to con artists, let us like sheep in the midst of wolves, be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).
Help us dear Lord to be shrewd in recognizing frauds, scams, false prophecies and teachings. Do not let us fall prey to the schemers or deceivers O Lord. Tide us over our times of desperation Lord that we might not foolishly get ourselves into greater trouble or crisis. If we have fallen prey Lord, show us the way out of the situation. In You Lord we put our complete trust for You alone are our sufficiency.