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How to Avoid Scams on the Internet

Updated on November 19, 2009

The Standard Scams

 Timeshare Scams

Earlier this year, the State of Florida conducted raids on over 100 so called Internet and related businesses regarding timeshares. Most of the scams that sell timeshares for those desperate to sell seem legitimate and some are to a point. Most are located in Florida. Florida busted many and closed them down because of the flood of complaints from sellers. The most common are fee based, that is, for a fee, the company will post all the selling info on their timeshare website. The fee is anywhere from 300-1500 dollars. Some claim they will handle all legalities and present your timeshares to large groups of very interested buyers and can sell it within 90 days. The problem is that the business cannot handle any of the real estate legalities as only RE agents can. All they can do is post the info to sell it and once an interested party happens, you have to find a RE agent. Some companies claim that they are mandated by the FTC to sell only a limited number of timeshares to large corporations, which is totally bogus. The FTC would shut them down if they knew what was being said, Florida did issue "cease and desist" notices to over 50 of them. The fees needed by these companies often cite 3-4 legal documents as the reason, yet, none raided by the DA in Florida found attorney's associated with the business. The most common complaint remains that once the person pays the fee, nothing more is heard from the company and contacting them is near impossible, so basically, the scam is "take the money and ignore enquiries and then change locations every month or so".

The DA in Florida recommends that a timeshare owner should NEVER have to pay anyone money to sell their timeshare. If you do, you should avoid them. The advise owners to obtain a RE agent to sell the timeshare for them. There should be no fees upfront.

Money Laundering Scams

This is a classic scheme where high commissions of $2K or more are offered to process checks on behalf of others outside the US. They get the person to process payments or transfer funds. If victims cooperate, they will use their personal bank accounts to move stolen or bad checks, planning to keep a percentage as their pay on the scammers' instructions. If the scam involves legitimate funds, the victims are never able to hold onto them. In fact, money-laundering victims may be liable to their own banks for depositing the scammer's rubber checks.

Reshipping Scams

These require job seekers to revieve goods, which are usually stolen in their own homes and then they forward the package to destinations outside the US. These goods are often bought online with stolen credit cards. Scammers ask victims to shell out their own shipping charges, and pay reimbursement and compensation with a fake check. Those who fall for reshipping scams may be liable for shipping charges and even the cost of goods purchased online with stolen credit cards. They can also be criminally charged for receiving stolen goods and lied to US customs in order to send the items.

Pre-pay and work at Home

Most require some sort of investment upfront in order to obtain the info about the job or how to do it BEFORE they explain how the plan works. If they refuse to disclose how it works before you pay, it is a scam. 

The scams that come via the internet are uninvited, made to look official but flawed in their use of English. If sounds weird as you read it, has misspelled words, stilted use of English, it is a scam.

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