As more warnings continue to warn members of the public about bogus financial transactions, we let ourselves get caught by crafty conmen seeking to make a quick buck from our carelessness.

A friend came back from the Far East to find himself more than 3,000 riyals in arrears. He first blamed his wife for secretly using the credit card while shopping alone during their one month long holiday. I need not have to tell you that the poor woman packed his bags and went to stay with her parents in protest. It turned out to be that fraudsters in one of the hotels they stayed got excess of his credit card information. His bank understood the problem and was good enough to write-off the arrears. However, he was made to work harder to win back his wife. I suggested that he should buy her something expensive to get her back, since he would not have to pay the money back.

He took my advice and the good woman returned home, but with one condition. She told him to return the credit cards and pay cash to everything he buys in the future. He agreed. A week later, I got his email with an attachment of a man in the USA who found his house being sold on the Internet. Yes, conmen now even sell your car to somebody else, while it is still parked in your drive way. It is not yet widespread, but it is time we take these warnings seriously. A gentleman in Qatar was about to buy his own laptop computer he lost two months previously. When he reported the incident to the police, he was asked to provide the receipt of the purchase. Of course, he did not have it because the thief stole both the computer and the receipt at the same time.

The police had no choice, but to reverse the charges and the legitimate owner of the laptop found himself being charged of theft of his own property. Ten years ago, these incidents would have been isolated cases, but they happen in astonishing regularity these days. I received an email that I won a “five-star holiday for two” in the Caribbean, but I needed to send a “small amount of administrative fee.” Would I fill the form below and provide the particulars of my credit card? They don’t stop trying because the Internet costs nothing to send such messages. They know that the web reaches millions of unsuspecting victims. They hope a small percentage of Internet surfers would be foolish enough to be tempted.

The Gulf is actually much safer than Europe when it comes to money protection. The local shops ask you to key in your PIN number when making purchases using your plastic card. In the United Kingdom, they just check your signature and you walk away with hundreds of pounds worth of shopping. You cannot afford to drop your debit card on the floor there. However, not everyone is a thief. I dropped my wallet as I was taking out my sunglasses from my pocket and a Good Samaritan picked it up and handed it back to me. I could not thank him enough because people like him are precious few these days. As my friend was to find later, the careless use of credit cards may cost you more than a few thousands. Your wife may never see the funny side. It may not be a bad idea, if you leave your financials to your better half. As a general rule, women do not take money matters lightly.

The writer is an Oman-based freelance columnist. This article has been reproduced from the Khaleej Times.