ScamsOne of the mysteries of the con-man is why he bothers (I say he, but of course there are plenty of con-women who are just as unscrupulous). He is often energetic, imaginative and ambitious, so why doesn’t he build up a decent, respectable business instead of robbing hard-working people? I suppose it’s because con-men (and I’ve met many over my years in consumer protection) all regard the people they deceive simply as walking wallets, to be ruthlessly squeezed, emptied, and then thrown away.

So the con-men will shamelessly lie to us, try to tempt us with ‘something for nothing’, ‘too good to be true’ offers – like the ‘show house’ discount for double glazing or central heating, or the ‘million pound lottery’ he pretends you have won and so on. And he gambles on the fact that when we discover that we’ve fallen for his blatant swindle, we will be too ashamed to report him to the police…

Excerpted from the Introduction to the “Little Book of Big Scams”. Source: http://www.thamesvalley.police.uk/the-little-book-of-big-scams.pdf

Internet scams are updated, worldwide versions of age-old tactics and schemes to cheat and defraud a victim. What the internet has added to con-artistry is an extreme ease of distributing fraudulent schemes to millions of people!

The Better Business Bureau listed the following schemes as the Top 10 Scams in 2012. These scams continue to be headliners so far in 2013:

Source: http://www.bbb.org/blog/2012/03/can-you-name-the-ten-most-common-scams/

Be Aware and Beware…

1. Bogus Health Products – This scam is the modern version of snake oils and elixirs that claim cures for everything that ails you.

2. Advance Fee Loans – These are bogus offers with fraudulent websites that promise to provide easy credit and/or loans. Required upfront payments are a sign the site/offer is a scam.

3. The Nigerian Scam – This is an old scam with several variations that amazingly doesn’t die. It appeals to the sympathy and generosity of the victim. An email or hard copy letter or even fax arrives asking for help to get money out of war ravaged countries to help the poor subject named in the request. The FBI reports the author requests upfront money to help complete the emotional request but the willing victim will always be out money.

4. The Grandma Scam – Aimed at seniors, the “victims receive a call from a ‘grandchild’ in distress in a foreign country. Grandparents are told to wire money to ‘the police.’” It is suggested that “the best defense is to remain calm. Make them give you their name. Insist on calling your son or daughter. Chances are, you’ll find your grandchild safe at home.”

5. Foreign lotteries or sweepstakes – “A check comes in the mail–to cover ‘taxes, fees or insurance.’ You’re supposed to cash the check and wire back funds to claim your prize, but the check is no good. Remember, it’s illegal for U.S. citizens to enter foreign sweepstakes or lotteries. If you have to send money, even if they send you a check, you haven’t won anything.”

6. Overpayment Scams – “Your classified or Craigslist ad receives an email expressing interest in the item. The mystery buyer’s English is poor. They want the item delivered through a shipper. They offer to overpay for the item and want you to wire the excess funds after the check is deposited. Never accept a check for more than the selling price and never agree to wire back funds to a buyer.”

7. Charity Scams – “Fraudulent solicitations come over the phone with scammers pretending to be affiliated with legitimate charities. Other scams involve bogus websites created to fool people into providing credit cards. If you want to donate to a charity, use the charity’s own websites directly. You can investigate unfamiliar charities online at http://www.bbb.org/us/charity.”

8. Employment/Mystery Shopping Scams – If you are applying online for employment, “regardless of the reason or excuse given by the employer, you should never give out…Social Security or bank account numbers over the phone or e-mail.”

Mystery Shopping Scams operate just like lottery scams and overpayment scams—here is a check; do a job, wire money back to your ‘employer.’ The checks are no good and you’re out any money you send away.”

9. Phishing – “Scammers, masquerading as legitimate organizations send official-seeming email to get you to reveal sensitive data. If you get an email or pop-up asking for personal or financial information, don’t reply. Don’t click any links. Contact the organization mentioned using a phone number you know is genuine, or open a new window and type the company’s correct web address to verify it.”

10. Smishing – “Cell phone text messages deliver the “bait” to get people to divulge their personal information. They claim there’s a problem with your debit or credit card or bank account, and that it’s been frozen. Never provide personal or financial information to unknown parties, and never click on any embedded Internet links in unsolicited text messages.”

DisHonorable Mention: Online Dating Scams

Although not listed on the Better Bureau’s site, Online Dating Scams deserve mention. There are many legitimate online dating services, but there are also many fraudsters who use the services to bilk a victim out of money and emotions. Here are some alerts that your potential amour is really looking for your money…

• The potential “date” quickly wants to use personal email or messaging rather than the dating site format

• They profess love quickly

• They claim to be from the U.S. but are working or traveling overseas

• They cancel a planned visit to you because of some unexpected but traumatic event and request money to help cover some of those traumatic event issues.

• Send NO Money. Report them immediately to the dating site and FBI.

Unfortunately, this is not a comprehensive list of scams and schemes. It is only a compilation of 2012’s TOP 10!   May none of these be your experience!

The cautious seldom err  –  Confucius

toogood

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