Money Saving Tips

Top 10 Scams That Will Blow Your Mind!

Beware of Scams!
Written by Oana Schneider

Sadly, the rise of the Internet has provided scammers with new, innovative scam schemes designed to take place without the victim even noticing it until he/she gets their credit card statement or phone bill. Some of these theft methods are very elaborate and recognizing them can sometimes get tricky, but there are several simple, yet essential precautions you can take in order to reduce your chances of being scammed.

As a rule of thumb, do not disclose any personal information regarding private life and bank account details to unverified third parties; also, be wary of “great offers” that look too good to be true, especially if they require upfront information or payment.

Find below a list of the 10 most ravaging scam schemes! Learn how to identify them and discover how to take appropriate measures, so that you will not be the next victim on the scammers’ long lists.

1. Paying in advance for a guaranteed loan

If you are required to pay an up-front fee when applying for a pre-approved loan, remember that this not something a bank would normally do. Remember that reputable and trust-worthy crediting institutions do charge annual fees, but it is always to be paid after, not before the signing-up procedures.

Next time you decide to consider a seemingly advantageous pre-approved loan, ask yourself: how come you are being offered massive credit limits, when the credit provider is not even aware of your credit and income situation. This sounds like common sense, but far too many people take the bait and fall into the trap of paying the upfront-fee, being pressured by financial problems that will only get worse. Be careful – this scam scheme is also used when applying online for a credit card!

2. Fake Lottery Prizes

Chances are you have already received at least one email saying that you won a substantial prize. These scams may also take the name & logo of genuine national lotteries. Basically, it works like this: people receive unsolicited phone calls or emails announcing they have entered into a prize draw. A couple of hours later, they receive a call congratulating them on winning a big prize which can be claimed after the payment of several administrative fees and taxes – some hundred dollars, next to nothing if compared with the prize; but obviously, there is no prize at all.

Next time you get such an announcement, keep in mind that no genuine lottery ever has asked for payments before delivering the prize; also, if you won the big pot (or a smaller one, it does not really count), you will not get your notification by email. Last but not least:  don’t let the visions of a fabulous future life blur your mind – how could you have won a lottery you haven’t even entered in the first place?

3. Multilevel Marketing Scams

Also known as “pyramid schemes”, these scams promise you everything for virtually nothing. Their ads scream “Make Money Now” all over the Internet in pop-ups offering you the promise of quick, big bucks for almost no effort in exchange. Well, if this is not enough to make you aware you are facing scam, learn why it is:  multilevel marketing is based on offering financial rewards together with the return of an initial investment, based on how many new recruits you add to the pyramid schemes. Investors are being deluded with the prospects of their likely returns; since there are not enough people to support the scheme, the initial investment is lost from the very beginning.

4. “Get Rich Soon” and “Work from Home” schemes

The promise of easy-money should always signal to you there is a hidden catch out there. This also applies to “work from home” schemes, which require the payment of initial training materials. Alternatively, you may receive free (but worthless) files explaining their process of gaining money and in order to begin “getting rich” the receiver will be asked to cover some initial fees. Obviously, the victim will soon discover the money is gone and there was no real job from the very beginning.

5. Nigerian Family

This scheme is generically called the “Nigerian Family Scam” because of the story designed to cover the trickery: a Nigerian wealthy family addresses to you, by email, a desperate cry of help in transferring a huge amount of money out of Nigeria. However, the same trick lies behind other variations to the story, like the African widow claiming she wants to make donations of millions of dollars worth to a good church or charity institution.

Regardless of the more or less emotional story deployed, the victim is promised obscenely large sums of money in exchange for some small tasks. Literally, another “too good to be true” scam that should put you on guard and delete the email from the very beginning, without further reading. Sadly, there are still people who fall for this money transfer trap and do as told: they send money to cover for endless fake fees and taxes that must be paid to the people able to release their promised share of money.

Of course, the more they are willing to transfer, the more the victims will get their accounts emptied. Somebody tell the naives that this scam is not even new! It was already making its first victims in the 1920s, when they used the story of a Spanish prisoner.

6. Fake Medical Alert

Con games are also on telemarketing (and, allow us to say, they are very much so)! Using teleshopping schemes, they target older people who don’t really get to spend a lot of time on the Internet , so they get a trick scheme designed for them only! This particular scheme comes with the promise of getting a “free” medical alert devices and system; the victim is called and told that they will get these gadgets for free because a family member or a friend has already paid for them. It’s just that they need to provide with their bank account and credit card details in order to “verify” their identity and be charged with a small, but not-so-small monthly fee of a few tens of dollars.

It’s easy to figure out that those accepting these terms and conditions will never get any medical alert system and will be left with a fee virtually impossible to be refunded. Teach your elder ones to never disclose their banking details upfront and be very wary of “free offers~ – there are no free devices, just as there is no free lunch! Also, keep in mind that you should always check with the one who has supposedly paid for the products or service.

7. Identity Theft Scams

Identity theft is incredibly common nowadays and relatively easy to fall for, if you are not aware about the existence of these cons. So we recommend you to pay extra-attention the next time you will get an email that looks like it is sent by a trust-worthy real bank, credit card company or communications company, containing links to a website where you are required to update your account details.

This is called “phishing” and is basically a trickery designed by digital thieves, making you believe you confirm your account info while you are actually divulging them, thus making your money extremely vulnerable. It is very common that the need to confirm your information is really urgent; they may also frighten you with the prospect of something bad happening if you refuse to do so, and they may even use stories about how your account has been hacked.

The confidential information you are likely to enter on those fake websites resembling reliable Citibank, eBay or PayPal pages is later intercepted by the scammers that will take whatever is available in the disclosed account.

How to prevent this: phishing fake pages will only have http:// (not https://, as the real pages) at the beginning of their link address. If you are still unsure, call your financial institution to check if the email is real and, in the meantime, don’t trust suspicious emails. Skepticism can really save you a lot of money!

8. Fake Foreign Currency Investments

Scammers can get pretty creative! They often use real current news and events happening on the foreign currency markets in order to make their stories more reliable. They trick their victims into making seemingly safe investments in unusual currencies, such as the Iraqi Dinar, the Vietnamese Dong or, most recently, the Egyptian Pound, being told that some foreseen governmental action will increase their value against the dollar. You may also actually get in the possession of real currency, but you will find yourself with money very difficult to sell and with highly unlikely chances of increasing in worth.

9. Ebay or PayPal scams

If you listed for sale an expensive item on online websites, the scammers may take advantage of your ad and email you an offer to pay a bigger amount of money than your requested price, motivating the overpayment with international transfer or shipping fees; in return, you will be asked to send him your product and the cash covering the difference.

So you receive a money order that looks real (it may even be real, but never authorized by a bank), but you will soon find out that it was fake money and your bank will ask you to pay them back immediately. It is usually a convincing forgery, which makes the victim lose both the money and the product put for sale.

10. Modern jacking

This scam will secretly change the phone number dial-up modems used for accessing the internet, while pretending to transfer it to an overseas or seemingly much cheaper number. However, once disclosing the details of your contract with your phone company to a third part, you may receive bills hundreds of dollars higher.

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for DontPayFull.com as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.

26 Comments

  • There definitely are a LOT of scams out there, so everybody should be very careful. Something I’ve read and heard alot about are the nigerian scam emails.

    There’s actually a website dedicated to dealing with scammers and it’s called scambaiting. Pretty hilarious what they get the scammers to do for them.

    I think people just need to have a good portion of common sense when browsing the internet. If it’s too good to be true, it most likely is.

    • Most of those stories about getting revenge on the scammers are completely fake. These individuals might use very blatantly obvious scam tactics, but they’re not as dumb as that would lead you to believe. They know how to scam individuals without getting caught or screwed over themselves. Scammers make billions of dollars off of the stupidity of other people after all.

      • Feel good stories of vindication to make the other scammed people feel better. It could be harmless fun-poking, but I think it ends up luring people in to a sense of false security where they believe scammers to be stupid. By dehumanizing them, these people find it easier to ignore them and ultimately this becomes a problem as they don’t respect the danger that the scammers potentially are. This is especially true when it comes to scams which involve identity theft and fraud.

  • I can’t say that any of these scams surprise me because I’ve seen them all in the past but have never fallen for any of them. Most of these scams are incredibly easy to spot, and the scammers prowl upon easily persuaded individuals who are likely to buy into these scams. Most people need to realize that they’re probably getting scammed if they’re supposed to get something for free.

    • As someone who has done some IT support in the past, you have no idea how successful those “click here for a free iPad” style scams are. There are so many elderly people online who are simply too trusting of what they see on the screen. The best you can do is instruct your family and hope for the best.

      • This is so true! I actually just spent my weekend trying to deal with an older family member who had gotten a virus from one of those ads, and I figure it’s a bit of a relief that the only damage was a few lost hours of cleaning up his computer. Most of these scams might seem pretty obvious or familiar to those of us who are a bit more tech-savy, but I really think sharing this sort of information is the best way to keep friends and family safe.

        • To think though, that if you had not intervened the virus may be siphoning up information that comes up from online banking, purchases being made and all sorts of sensitive data.

          Now extrapolate that to all the people who don’t have the benefit of a techsaavy friend or family member to help them and you wind up with a lot of compromised individuals.

      • I have elderly family who are the exact opposite. They are so weary of everything on the internet that they are scared to use the computer altogether. Of course, this is better than falling for a scam, though. Watching an abundant amount of news shows can have that effect on someone. It is call the cultivation theory. However, I will admit the paranoia is useful in this type of situation.

  • Got that lottery scam call before from an 876-291-4498 phone number. The scammer was a professional, he knew what to say to convince me. However, he missed one thing. He wasn’t aware that his phone number was posted at Callercenter and was reported for scam calls.

  • #4 – The “get rich quick” and “work from home” thing is so common and I can’t believe how many people fall for some of them. Some of them, like survey sites, don’t charge you to start using them but it takes forever and a day to reach their payout or your account gets canceled when you get close. Meanwhile you spend a lot of time giving lots of places a lot of your personal information. Real work from home type jobs have some hallmarks
    1) no money from you to work for them
    2) warnings that you will NOT get rich quick but can earn some extra cash if you work at it
    3) low payout thresholds or no minimum amount at all. So you can spend a small bit of time and get a payout to prove to yourself that they do pay before you get overly involved in them.

    • I am going to go under the assumption that you don’t mean “telecommute” when you are saying “work from home”. While your assessment is true of online side jobs like teaching English and surveys and stuff, there are also many positions at brick and mortar businesses that are able to be done from home.

      I’m a systems administrator and work from home several times a week, which is amazingly convenient as my home office is set up with everything I have at the office. For the most part, I’m 100% as effective at home as the office short of a few infrastructure limitations.

  • I would be wary of grouping multi-level marketing with pyramid schemes, as legally they are defined and treated differently, albeit there are a lot of similarities. At the same time, I’ve fallen for the fake lottery win (the classic ‘get something for nothing’ gig) and we all need to stay vigilant.

  • I find what helps the most in terms of phishing scams through your email is to check whether they address you by name (paypal, bank, or whomever knows your name), also be sure to hover over the website address they provide you and see on your status bar (bottom of the screen) if it’s different or suspicious as sometimes it will say something like bank.net ba-nk.com or similar.

    That aside though, beyond what has already been mentioned, consider asking people that you trust whom are more versed with technology or finances and see what they think.

  • Many scammers realize that their tactics will not work for the majority of the informed population. But the thing is, it pays off for the few people that do fall for them. In an age where information is at our fingertips at a blink of an eye, it is definitely important to do some background research on whatever you’re doing before you give our your personal info or sign up for something. There are many examples of multi-level marketing scams, and from research, I’ve learned to avoid falling for these companies and their products.

    • The unfortunate reality is that the majority is NOT the informed, but rather the uninformed. For every one person that practices good password policies, has some sort of anti-spam solution or uses an effective antivirus there are ten that do their browsing entirely unprotected.

      The internet is a minefield nowadays; it’s easy to navigate for the informed, but obviously there are many traps for the people who are ignorant of the dangers.

  • I spent the entire time smirking while reading this article, since everything that was mentioned was so familiar, here in Lebanon I am basically used to getting a weekly text message or email saying that I won a ton of prizes, or emails saying that I won a free Canadian visa. However really I get very dumbfounded when I find out that there are people who actually fall for these types of scams, if you run a 5 second search on google about whether or not the product is a scam you will find out, and as my father always told me, there is no such thing as easy money.

  • I have to admit, I like going through my spam folder just to see what “amazing offers” I’ve gotten. Some of them are so ridiculous, it honestly shocks me anyone would ever fall for them – but I know some people must, or it wouldn’t be worthwhile to send them out. I feel bad for people who get caught up in these things; I’m guessing it’s easier to be trapped if the language isn’t your first. Sometimes it’s very, very tempting to write back and correct the terrible grammar, though. 😉

    The easiest way I’ve found to scan something quickly to tell if it’s fake or not is to look at the sender’s email. It seems like they aren’t even trying anymore … you get an email saying it’s from paypal but the sender’s address is a hotmail address called medicalsupplies47 or something equally stupid.

    • Yes, it’s important to do your research before trying to use an offer or another! Thanks for your feedback!
      Oana Schneider recently posted…Top 10 Scams That Will Blow Your Mind!

  • Great information – thanks for posting – although most of these you can avoid simply employing just a smidge of common sense – anything that sounds overly sensational – too simply or simply just way out of left field is probably a scam – and if you doubt it – do your research on it in advance- there is likely at least one other person who has fallen to it.

    • Thanks, Nikki! Sometimes, common sense is not as obvious as one might think. But you are right, people need to start researching a business they are interested in before investing in it.
      Oana Schneider recently posted…Top 10 Scams That Will Blow Your Mind!

  • There are so many internet scams about and it just goes to show that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Times are tough for everyone right ow though and this is why these scams still work – they promise false hope to desperate people.

  • I had no idea there were paypal scams! A lot of these other scams I’ve heard about, as they were ever so present first calling you at home, then sending you chain mails… I mean, at some point, if you’re trying to be a good scammer, you should change your tropes!

    The one that almost got me was an ad on Kijiji about selling Bengal Cats for a low price. I was so happy to see that, hope and all, that I sent a message to the seller and almost believed it. He had this complete sob story about how he had to abandon the cat and wanted to find a good home fast and if I could just send the 100 pounds, he would be sending me the key to the apartment and blah blah blah. Because he mentioned caring about the cat, I almost believed him. I wanted to believe him. But then I looked it up and it looked like selling pets is a common scam, and the email address was from Nigeria or Zimbabwe or something.

    I wasted my time replying, voicing my concerns of it being a scam, but never heard from them again.

  • I really know what this is like, my friends mother got a call saying she won a lottery and all she had to do was pay a bill of 20 dollars. She fell for the bait and kept paying them until she realized it was a fake. These scams should be stopped and that is why this article was put in place to inform others of the dangers online.

  • My mom recently was targeted in a scam I hadn’t heard about before. A young man called her up and said “Grandmother, it’s your grandson, and I’ve been arrested. I didn’t do anything wrong, it was all a mistake, but I need $1000 for bail. Please don’t call Mom and Dad because I’m so embarrassed, I don’t want them to know about it”. At first, she was really concerned – she said the guy sounded like my son and of course her reaction was to do anything to help him. But she knew him well enough to know that, no matter what, he would have called us first. So she asked him a couple of questions and quickly realized that it was a scam.

  • Every so often our newspaper writes about scams, especially if someone was scammed. That scam was going around all weekend where someone called pretending to be from Microsoft and trying to charge a fee to take of viruses that did not exist. The lady got scammed by that. Its terrible all the scams out there.

  • You don’t know how many phishing emails I got when I previously had a Yahoo account. you can tell because the page may look legitimate, but the address is totally different. For example, you are taken to a yahoo sign in page, with boxes for your username and password just like the real thing, but when you look at the address, you’ll find that the domain is hosted in Croatia.

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