So you just listed your car for sale online and then this nice guy out of nowhere texts and asks whether it is still up for sale and you say it is. So they tell you they will pay via check, and will even pay double or accidentally overpay so that after you cash the check you only need to wire them the extra amount. You will end up paying the bank for cashing a fake check and that gets dirty down the road. Others will simply create a fake profile of a US serviceman in Iraq on a dating website and they will always be in need of your money until the day you discover that your lover doesn’t really exist. The list of ways people can scam you online is almost endless and they are only getting harder to detect every day. Here are the 10 common ones to look out for.
This one never seems to get old. It is called Nigerian 419 because it was so popular in the country that the country passed a law called Section 419 against online scammers. Many online scammers still come from Nigeria but not all of them. Some come from other places such as South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon and India. They pose as some rich people looking to move their money from their country to yours and the catch is that you allow them to transfer the money to your account but you also have to pay some money to facilitate the transfer.
In some cases, someone will pretend to be sending you some huge parcel you never ordered and now you will have to pay a fee for it to be delivered to you. Another common version of this one nowadays is some get rich quickly investors who tell you that you have been selected for some scheme that will make you lots of money but you have to invest something small. That something small is always your loss. These scams are also called advance fee fraud.
The Loan Agent Scam
Getting a low-interest loan in these hard times with lucrative repayment terms can be a huge relief. The only problem is that there are very few banks giving these loans and even fewer agents that will help you secure them. The scammers will now come to your email out of the blues and promise to be the agent of a bank that promises loans at extremely low interests. When you contact these fake agents, they will always ask for some money upfront as a processing fee or whatever before they can process your request. Others will get you to fill in your bank and credit card information and then proceed to wipe them clean.
Make Money Online Scams
More than 60% of methods of making money online are actually scams. The problem is that these guys are getting smarter every day trying to make their methods look more realistic. The most common one involves doing simple tasks online and making lots of money. After signing up, you will be told to pay money upfront before you can start receiving the so-called tasks.
Others will simply take your email, phone and PayPal or bank accounts and proceed to sell them or try to use them to steal from you. Others are more complicated getting you to do lots of work online hoping to reach some minimum withdrawal amount which is usually very small yet you never reach because the closer you get to your minimum withdrawal amount, the less the tasks you get. They make money off your tasks though and others still make more money from the high volume of clicks by people hoping to actually make money online.
The Helpful Government Agent
This one has hit headlines recently with many fingers pointing at Indian call centres which have caused huge losses for many people around the world. They start when some urgent message hits your inbox telling you there is something wrong with your bank accounts or SSN. They scare you into thinking that you are at risk of having all your assets seized or going to prison and that you need to transfer all your money overseas to an account of their recommendation or that the agent can help you set your record straight for a small fee.
The most common one involves an agent that can help clear all your debts or miraculously raise your credit score. Sometimes even if you don’t fall for the con, you may have given them your sensitive information which they can use to harm you or sell on the dark web for some cash. The best defence is to hang up once you see the call or ask for some actual official verification before agreeing to anything.
Online Dating Scams
These ones are probably as old as the internet. They are as simple as getting images of someone else’s profile online and then using them to create a fake profile which the scammer then uses to befriend people, win their trust and then scam them. They try to be as trustworthy as possible and people always fell for a beautiful lady or a handsome guy who seems to fit their dream partner.
The problem is that some are even creating real profiles so that they can have video chats to prevent suspicion. The most common one by scammers in foreign countries is pretending to be US servicemen deployed abroad. These people always seem to be in need of favours and they always get into trouble that requires money. It will start with small amounts, but as time goes by, they ask for larger amounts.
Fake Online Sellers
There are so many websites online selling things that are not legitimate while others don’t even sell the items they claim to have. While many are just phishing websites looking to steal your information and using it against you, others want to get you to pay for these products only to be shocked when you realize that you have been scammed.
The most common ones are houses, cars and electronics. Since you believe that you can examine the quality by just looking at the photos, you may be fooled into paying before the product is shipped. With houses, someone will advertise an apartment in usual places such as Craigslist, only it will be cheaper and they will want you to pay quickly,” to beat the competition,” but once you pay up front, you will realize the apartment doesn’t really exist or they have no rights to it.
Fake Online Buyers
So here, someone accidentally overpays you via check while buying something you are selling and asks that you refund them the extra sum, and then go cash the check. The check is actually fake and you will have to pay the bank if you cash it. You will notice that your buyer is more interested in the extra cash than they are in the product they are buying because they don’t really want it. They just want the money. In some cases, they will even tell you to transfer the money locally but that may just be their agent so before you cash a check, call the bank that issued it and verify.
The Lottery Scam
One thing you have to remember is that you cannot win a lottery that you never participated in. These scammers still hope to cash in from you by hoping that your desire for quick riches will cloud your judgement here. You will receive a text message or an email talking about a lottery that you have won and how you should contact for details on how to receive your money. Of course, you will be asked to pay a small processing fee so that your huge winnings can be wired to you but the lottery doesn’t work that way.
Unemployment is a big problem almost everywhere and scammers know that too. So the internet is full of bogus job advertisements. Usual recruitment procedures involve actual organizations and the least you can expect is a legitimate website and most scammers don’t have time and money to create those. Some do though but you will still never meet your employer and that should be a red flag.
The typical ones ask you to pay for something in the recruitment process and of course that should be enough red flag. Others will then get you to do their scamming for them and not get paid anything in the end. The most common one is being used as a mule to receive, repackage and remail illegal items being shipped to criminals. Others will have you printing and mailing fake checks and you will probably never get paid.
Your Password Is Compromised
Phishing emails are very dangerous and scammers only seem to make them sound more realistic every day. These one involve an email from your social media, banking or a government institution telling you to secure your compromised account. The problem is that the email is not really from that organization and if you click the link they provide in the email, you will be taken to a website that looks like the one you are used to but it actually isn’t. If you don’t check carefully, you will fill in your email and password you will have given away your information to the scammer. Now, all they have to do is log into your actual account on the organization’s real website and steal all your money or use your info for other reasons.