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Internet based scams, trafficking and shattered dreams
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Do not be fooled by internet based scams!
Beware internet based rip offs are common. You are the kind of person who shops on-line. It is easy and convenient. You have internet connection, a credit card loaded with money and the need to purchase that pair of shoe you always coveted. Use the certified sites like e-bay or Amazon. Be very cautious though, there are websites and programs that mimic these sites.
Scams come in very many brands, be careful:
This is a story that has implications to immigrants and asylum seekers who come to America. Worldwide there are stories of fraudsters of different categories. There are those who misrepresent firms by posing as owners and promise selling shares like in the case of a Fund Manager charged in a Facebook/Groupon Scam (see: http://money.uk.msn.com/news/world-economy/fund-manager-charged-in-groupon-facebook-scam). Then there are those who pose as transporters for asylum seekers or displaced persons to host countries where they will be received with dignity. There are many sources one can refer to for first-hand information on this. One can read Illegal (1991) by Phillip Anastos and Chris French. The recent Lampedusa Island situation has as varied stories as the over 200 persons rescued on the rickety boat (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57608075/migrants-risk-their-lives-to-reach-italian-island). These kind of frauds if quantified cost economies large sums. One has to only read about various cases to get the totals lost or mismanaged. Health care fraud in the USA totals around $ 60- $ 200 billion each year (http://useconomy.about.com/od/fiscalpolicy/f/Healthcare_Reform_and_Fraud.htm). The trauma that falls these kind of frauds is devastating, especially for many who find they have been duped. Psychologists and psychiatrists caring for the Lampedusa based immigrants compared the trauma signs and symptoms to those of PTSD.
Character of Scammers:
Small groups can operate scam companies on the streets or in the backrooms or from a computer at home. These groups have hotlines and are skilled in building apparently catchy websites. It is with these that they conduct their scams.
Cost of scams:
These target the welfare, tax, education and livelihood of many immigrants or other unsuspecting persons. They promise housing, fake work permits, fake social security cards, fake insurance, fake scholarships and have been behind the 'diplomas mills' in USA. This is the direct expenditure. The indirect expenditure in form of: time spent on background research; purchases of anti viruses; cleaning of infected units; and nursing the trauma and emptiness is in billions worldwide. In UK alone that was computed to be around $ 1.2 billion for clean up and installing anti virus. This is compared to the $ 15 million spent on law enforcement (http://world.edu/how-much-does-cybercrime-cost/ ).
What to watch out for:
There are areas that all interested parties should be wary of: online payments for goods from sources not trusted; banking fraud; paying for fake anti virus; ordering online pharmaceutical infringing drugs; 'stranded traveler' scam; betrothal and heirloom transfers from dead Western Africa rich people; 'work-at-home' and multilevel marketing schemes; and internet based firms promising simple office set up packages. These have continuous hidden costs that in the end are complicated and exorbitant. They also have four aspects. They have an automatic deduction off one's credit card; they have a program that prompts double payments; they promise money back guarantee but renege; and they have no respectable telephone number to call in case one has complaints. Does this sound familiar? Avoid such scammers.
Who to watch out for:
The landscape is different though. Amidst human trafficking and internet-based malicious scam sites, one is torn between which facilities to run to. There is a range of opportunities in America: reception facilities; immigrant/refugee support services; UNHCR documentation facilities; minor support opportunities through agencies and homes where couples want to adopt children; faith-based reception services; city-council social services; not-for-profit reception centers and; internet/telephone-based services.
The culprits of the scams:
Reports of unmet promises made to new immigrants are rife. Reports of human trafficking are rife too. The expectations of immigrants or refugees or asylum seekers are around the basic issues of: health, housing, documentation, employment and relationships. This makes them vulnerable and many fall prey to cunning and crafty people.
The newer fronts for scams:
Internet/telephone-based sites that promise so much in so little a time. Some claim to provide: loans; education grants; health insurance; education grades; safety and security from internet hacking and housing facilities. The catch is one has to pay a lot of money in order to register and access the services. Many of these services are designed in such a way as to fleece off unsuspecting enthusiasts!
How to be on guard against scams in USA:
FBI lists the Nigerian Scams as the 419s and the multi-level marketing schemes as Ponzi schemes. Read wide about scams and listen to news on or about scams.Please note, they have used the first class computer programmers to come up with very official looking websites; they have toll-free lines for calling and receiving calls. They create impression of being in very noisy and busy premises;they have rented post office boxes where one can send letters; they have land-based addresses most times a ruse to convince an inquiring person of their physical nature; they have bank accounts and with the use of credit card transactions they are able to conduct businesses.
Yes, the internet is a safe media too:
This is not to say the internet is taken over by scammers. No! There are genuine sites and businesses online.
What a serious person relying on on-line transactions should do:
Do a background check on the on-line based business through the FBI anti-fraud services or online anti-fraud services, use Craig's list or Amazon credited websites. This way one stands better chances of value returns. If the business has a phone number, call them to express your concerns. It will give you confidence. The scam world is elusive and keeps on changing but the using common sense will help safeguard your identity, pockets and integrity.