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6 Scams to Watch Out For
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.
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.
Have you or anyone you know been the victim of a scam such as these?
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.
Snopes Site and Other Hubs on This Subject
- snopes.com: (Fraud & Scams)
Explanations of various frauds and scams and how to avoid them.
- Stop Internet Fraud, Online Scams, Identity Theft an...
Most people get an endless stream of online scams, spam, fraud attempts and hoax emails. Want to know how to stop it? Read to learn how stay safe.
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