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6 Scams to Watch Out For

Updated on April 20, 2015

What Are Frauds and Scams

There are people in this world who unfortunately make money by scamming or tricking other vulnerable people out of their money. These people are theives who create stories or fake "opportunities" that sound so real or amazing that a person buys into the deal or story, and before they know it, their money is gone. There are so many types of scams that it is hard to keep up with them all. Scams can be in the form of emails, phone calls, employment ads, and those asking for fees up front for goods and services that don't exist. This article will take a look at some of the areas of fraud in existence today.

Recent Scams

1. Secret Shopper Scams: Though there are real mystery shopper jobs to be had (I have done them before), there are some scams being advertised as well. The scam jobs will often require money to be sent to the hiring "company" upfront supposedly for either materials, training, or a list of jobs available. Legitimate secret shopping jobs don't require money to be paid upfront according to the Federal Trade Commission (who also states that there is a free list of mystery shopper jobs on the internet). Another type of secret shopper scam is where a "company" sends a packet to the "shopper" with a large check inside and asks the "shopper" to cash the check at a bank (the check actually being a fake) and use Western Union or a similar service to send part of the money to a given address, where the theif collects the money and the "shopper" is stuck with the consequences of the bad check.

What do you do in these situations? First, be careful when you respond to ads for employment. You should be suspicious if you are ever asked to send money to obtain empolyment or cash a check in your own bank and send the money to an unknown source. Check with the Better Business Bureau if there is any question about a company.

2. Google Work From Home Scam: This is a "work from home" online "offer" that states that Google has opened it's doors to allow people to post links online. It indicates that regular people get paid as much as $25 per link, you can make as much as $1500 per week to start, and it goes up from there. Sounds great, right. The catch is that you are asked to send $2.95 to a particular address for a kit to get started. The money sent is to supposedly weed out those who are serious about the job and those who are not. What people do not know is that in very small print at the bottom it states that the site has no association with Google. Also, when they sign up to authorize the fee for the supposed kit, they are authorizing an $80 fee to be taken out of their account.

What to do? Don't apply for a job where you have to send money up front. Again, check out businesses with the Better Business Bureau.

3. Cashier's Check Scam: This scam involves the selling of an object (big ticket item such as car, motorcycle, or even larger livestock) by one person, usually online, and another person, usually pretending to be from a foreign country (such as Africa) wanting to purchase the item using a cashier's check. The buyer requests that he be allowed to have the check made out for a larger amount than the selling price and the seller send the overage either to the buyer or a third party. The buyer usually has one of many stories for wanting the extra cash, such as owing the third party some money, needing fees for shipping of the item, or it is a refund check for an earlier "failed" sale. This scam works because money from a cashier's check is required by the FDIC to be released within one to five days, but they may not be honored by their issuing bank for weeks. The seller of the item is then out all of the overage that they wired the "buyer".

What can you do? If you are selling an item, selling local is always best, but if you are an ebay seller, don't get involved in a sale where the buyer wants to send a check for over the amount and have you refund the difference. If you choose to accept a cashier's check, make sure the check clears the ISSUING bank before sending an item or issuing a refund. This may take a week or more. If you have been the victim of such a scam, you can call the US Secret Service at (202) 406-5572.

4. Nigerian Scam: Many of you are probably familiar with this fraud. This is a scam in which a supposed wealthy Nigerian (also insert other nationalities at times) businessman wants to move money to an American bank and wants your help. In exchange, he will reward you handsomely. This can come in the form of letters or email messages. What happens is that supposedly when you agree, paperwork gets messed up or "questions are raised", and you are told officials need to be bribed for the transaction to take place. You agree to send money, often thousands of dollars, for payment or bribes, knowing that once the transfer is made, you will make millions. You wait for your money, but it still doesn't come, and you are asked to make more payments because of more complications. This happens until you begin to ask questions, then you never hear from the "Nigerian" again. This is not a new scheme by any means. A form of this dates back to at least the 1920s, where a version known as the "Spanish Prisoner Con" asked people to send money to help a very wealthy family smuggle a boy from the family out of a prison in Spain. The "helper" would be showered with riches in return.

What can be done? Do not offer to send money to people you do not know. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it most probably is.

5. Phishing Scams: These are scams sent out by email for the purpose of eliciting personal information. A company's logo or look will be imitated in order to fool the recepient into providing the personal information (such as social security number, credit card number, pin number, and passwords) with no second thoughts, and the thieves use the information to steal identities or use the credit cards. Examples of this have been emails alleged to be from Adobe Reader, American Airlines, Citibank, Delta Airlines, Ebay, FDIC, IRS, US Airways, Suntrust Bank, US District Court (stating they were sending out subpoenas by email), and many others.

What can be done? DO NOT give personal information out over the internet. If you get such an email, call the supposed source and ask questions. Ask if there are problems with your account. If the email is legitimate, a phone number is provided for questions and no business will ask for personal info over the phone or by email.

6. Tales of Distress Cons: These frauds are used very often and are usually very successful. Why? Because they usually involve small amounts of money and play on the victim's heartstrings. I have been approached numerous times by thieves of this kind. This con artist will pretend to be a starving mother with a pitiful child, a man who needs to get to the hospital to see his son who was just in a car accident, or a family who can't afford their rent. They approach victims in parking lots, at churches, or door to door with monetary requests. Many people feel sorry for those with sob stories and want to help, so they hand over the money gladly. The theif in turn uses the money to fund their drug or alcohol addiction in many cases. I was approached on one occasion by an elderly woman and a teenage-looking girl. The woman stated that their car had broken down and she needed money for gas to get them home. We were in the parking lot of a grocery store and a gas station was around the corner within walking distance. Not wanting to provide money, I told her that I would get her some gas if she had a container. She said that she had a container in her car and the two walked away as I finished putting my groceries in the car. A few minutes later, my son looked up and saw them driving away with another person in the car.

What can be done? Never provide money to someone you don't know unless you are sure of their situation and feel comfortable doing so. If you feel that you want to do something to help, suggest to the person that you help with their basic need that they talk to you about. For example, if a mother tells you she needs food for her child, offer to buy a few groceries and bring them back to her. For homeless on the street, don't provide money. I keep ziplock bags of some canned food, a bottle of water, and a pamphlet of community resources in my car to hand out. Never let strangers into your house or car. Offer to place calls for them or go to the store or gas station and return to them. Keep your eyes and ears open and maintain your own safety.

Scam/Fraud Poll

Have you or anyone you know been the victim of a scam such as these?

See results

Resources

So many emails and facebook notices are sent out daily warning people about hoaxes, scams, and frauds. It is very important that we know what is true and what is not true these days. A very good resource that I regularly use when I receive new information is Snopes.com. This website is updated daily and goes into detail about all different types of internet hoaxes, scams, viruses, and problems to watch out for. Before you press the send or forward button, check out the material and make sure you know what you are sending to your friends, family, and followers. Below are some helpful links.

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    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 4 years ago from USA

      This is a good list. I've had people try most of these, but haven't fallen for them. My husband did once give a lady gas that came to our house and claimed she didn't have enough to get home. After he put our container of gas in her car, she wanted $10 besides. He told her to forget it. We were new here.

      The next day we saw she just lived down the road from us. You can't trust anyone anymore.

    • TripleAMom profile image
      Author

      TripleAMom 4 years ago from Florida

      Thanks Barbara--I have seen most of these also, and many more. I'm amazed at how people can feel OK doing these things to people, but as a therapist, nothing could surprise me. I had a man once tell me he needed food. When I told him I had a bag in the car, he said, "I'm gonna be honest with you, I just want cigarettes".

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      This is very good information. Thanks

    • TripleAMom profile image
      Author

      TripleAMom 4 years ago from Florida

      Thanks again, Sherry.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! A few years ago I got a check for $6000 in the mail. I knew it had to be a scam. I took it to the bank and it was fraudlent. It is sad that so many people and companies try to take advantage of others. Thanks for alerting us!

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida

      TripleAMom,

      What a great Hub and very valuable information for all to be aware of what is happening in our world.

      I never give or send money to strangers. If someone needs food I will buy the food for them like you do. All the while my heart breaks for them, but some of these people make their living asking for money.

      Thanks for sharing,

      Your Hub Friend,

      Bobbi Purvis

    • TripleAMom profile image
      Author

      TripleAMom 4 years ago from Florida

      PurvisBobbi-Thanks for commenting. We all have to be careful and it's good to have this info. You are very welcome.

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 4 years ago

      I really hate it when people approach me in parking lots. I've seen them get money as well. There was one couple I saw at two different locations on different days telling the same sob story.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 4 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thanks for sharing this information TripleAMom. I get a lot of the Nigerian and the "distress" type scam emails in my inbox. I can see how both can suck people in if the readers aren't thinking critically. Though most of the emails are poorly written, occasionally, there are some really artful and creative messages sent out. The latter are sometimes hard to resist and successfully prompt emotional response. I wonder how many people actually do get conned by these scams and if the count of scam victims varies per country. Do you know if some people/world regions are more susceptible than others for falling for these scams?

    • TripleAMom profile image
      Author

      TripleAMom 4 years ago from Florida

      JoanCA-I do too. I can usually tell if they are for real if I offer to buy them some food or hand them a bag of canned stuff I keep in my car and they refuse or take it and continue to ask for money. Every once in a while I will get people legitimately happy for the offer. mythbuster-I have not done research on that, but it would make a good hub. I even wonder if people from other regions fall for American scams or vice versa due to differences in language. Could be. Good question. Thanks for the comments.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 22 months ago from Oklahoma

      Very helpful. Thanks for getting this information out there.

    • TripleAMom profile image
      Author

      TripleAMom 22 months ago from Florida

      Thanks for commenting Larry. There are so many scams out there, this is just a drop in the bucket unfortunately.

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