10 Worst Online Scams
The internet has given users access to the world at the click of a button. It has made information free and is helping us to connect to each other more easily. However this connectivity also opens up users to potential online scams. With a population of 2.4 billion users there are bound to be some bad apples on the internet.
The worst part about internet scams is that most occur without the victim even realizing it. It is only when their credit card bill appears that an individual might realise that they have been a victim. Common sense might help you but scammers are becoming more sophisticated imitating real websites and spamming emails they look legitimate. Here are ten of the top internet scams.
Free money always gets people’s attention. This scams targets you with the news that you have won the lottery. You will be informed that you have won millions of dollars. They may also request personal details to prove that you are the winner and to provide your personal bank account details so the award can be transferred to you. Scammers will often ask for upfront payments to cover costs, administration taxes, bank charges or courier fees. These Lottery scams will often employ the names of lawful overseas lotteries adding legitimacy to their claims.
Even if you have not purchased any tickets from a lottery some seem to think its worth the risk of a few personal details for a million dollars. But its not worth the risk if they have all your details it could cost you more than this. You may have your bank account cleared out or loans taken out in your name. If you get such an email or text message please do not respond back and do not mail any money or any details to the scammers.
This scam is one of the worst as it takes advantage of the confusion that arises after a natural disaster. Money is usually the quickest and best donation. Scammers are aware of this and when a disaster strikes have been known to setup fake websites for donations. Donations linked through email are the most popular for scammers giving them access to your money and not to those who need it the most. As always please stick to established organizations such as the Red Cross and do not reply to donation requests from email.
In dating the heart can rule the head. Scammers use this to their advantage. They have been known to spend months cultivating relationships before asking for money or help. Certain countries in Africa and Eastern Europe seem to specialize in this scam. In fact, the US Embassy in Russia currently receives information every day from individuals who feel they have been taken advantage of while looking for love.
For those looking for a partner it is great to connect with someone over e-mail. But the problem with email is that we may never know who this individual really is. Once they have built up trust wiring a bit of money to help them does not seem so alarming. But before any of this should be happening users should consider Skype and Facebook to check that they are who they say they are. These two tools can help you to connect to people who are legitimate. This is one of the more difficult scams as those who fall hurt both financially and emotionally.
The infamous pop up virus scam. Instead of helping to fix your computer anti-virus software can actually employ viruses. The pop up screen may look legitimate and offer to clean up your computer but it can do the opposite and infect it. It is difficult for even the most sophisticated of users to identify this scam.
Please make sure you already have the best anti-virus software installed on your computer and keep your genuine anti-virus software up-to-date. You can minimize this risk by accessing mainstream or authentic sites only. In 2010, a Google study found that shareware accounted for 15% of all malware identified on the web.
Travel and Vacation Scams
What’s second to winning lotto? A free vacation! Scammers have realized that a free holiday can sound more legitimate than winning lotto. Scammers inform consumers that they have a won an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii. To confirm all you have to do is to wire a few hundred dollars. Companies may ask for non-refundable handling fees or deposits. Most of these travel scams are dependent on unclear details for example; they’ll utilize phrases such as a major airline without mentioning it. If you must fall for such a scam please use your credit card as if any issues occur you can dispute charges within 45 days of making the payment.
Fake auction sites appeal to those who want to save money which is pretty much everyone. Scammers take advantage of this with fake sites selling products at a massive discount to their retail price. Other less organized scams are from buyers ripping off sellers. These buyers claim that they have paid for a product which has not been sent when they have received it earning their money back while keeping the product. If there are issues with postage or descriptions users may have to deal with any Postal Service, credit card company and online-auction website personnel to get their money back. The good thing about technology is social media. Sites like Facebook and feedback scores on auction sites can help you determine if the site and sellers are legitimate.
Free Trial Scam
The word free always gets people’s attention. It’s a smaller kind of scam but free product trials get people interested. If users do not cancel the fee trial within 15 or so days they can be charged inflated shipping and handling fees.
There is a lot of small print that comes with a series of trial offers. As above the best way to keep yourself from being a victim is to keep track of social media. Disgruntled customers will definitely vent there or somewhere else on the internet. You can verify company rankings with the “Better Business Bureau”. No one can hide bad information anymore. Please check these sites before you sign up to any offers.
Working from Home
Make $10,000 a month by working from home. We have all seen these ads. They typically involve turning your computer into a money making machine by following several simple steps. Of course you have to pay for this information and you get nothing in return. I hope you haven’t quit your day job! If you are considering a work-at-home scheme check their website, ask questions and please don’t send them out any cash.
Paypal is the largest target for scammers on the internet as it processes $1 out of every $6 transacted on the internet. The most recent scam will notify you that your account details have been compromised and inform you of several steps to fix such a problem. These scams can look very authentic with logos and links used to entice the victim to share their codes and personal details.
Nigeria has become famous because of this scam. The Nigerian 419 scam is an upfront money transfer fraud. The 419 code comes from Nigeria’s criminal code which outlaws the practice. As the no.1 scam it has become very well known. It is famous for its ‘Nigerian prince” emails providing you with the “chance” to share in a large amount of money. All you have to do is give them your bank account details to help transfer out money which has been trapped in the country because of the civil war. Of course this is all a trick and to keep growing scammers are known to target emerging markets like Vietnam and South Korea as the scam has become so well known.
The Top Ten Charity Scams
The problem with the internet is half the time you do not know who you are really dealing with as users are not verified. Scammers take advantage of this anonymity with most frauds being conducted on the internet.
Tsunami Victim Scam
Internet users are becoming more sophisticated against scams but unfortunately scammers seem to be one step ahead. Cyber criminals have come up with new ways of cheating victims with half truths that can be verified. One of the worst was the 2004 boxing day tsunami in the Indian Ocean which killed 230,000 people. These scammers used legitimate victim details to scam their family members for money and bank account details.
Virginia Tech Charity Scam
Virginia Tech was the site of the tragic shooting in 2007 where 32 people were killed. Virginia tech itself setup an official fund for the victims but another 25 new domain name were registered online. While some may have been legitimate a number were shut down by the government. One of the lessons is to be wary of charity sites soliciting donations through email. Donators should talk to staff and ring official hotlines to verify that it is a reputable charity. You could even inquire about information that illustrates the charity’s program and latest financial report.
Everyone has heard of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. It was the largest in history with estimated losses to investors of $18 billion, even worse many charities were investors in the scheme. Many Jewish federations and hospitals have been forced to close down. The most famous foundation the Eli Wiesel Foundation for Humanity lost $15.2 million.
Typhoon Haiyan scam
Many scammers are opportunistic. They take advantage of disasters that are currently making headlines. The Typhon Haiyan resulted in more than 10,000 dead in the Philippines. Scammers used emails and fake charity Facebook sites to solicit donations. Again the best way to protect yourself against these scams is to use reputable charities and not answer opportunistic email requests.
French Scientology Fraud
The church of Scientology is famous for its famous followers Tom Cruise and John Travolta. It was established by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer in 1954. It is estimated to have at least 12 million followers from all around the world. Many believe it to be a cult rather than religion.
In France the organization was convicted of organized fraud and ordered to pay $812,000 in fines for preying on followers in the mid 1990’s. The organization manipulated followers into handing over amounts as large as $20,000 Euros for services and products for bogus cures and tests. In addition to the fines the Judge ruled that 5 Scientology church leaders receive suspended prison sentences.
The Deniz Feneri Foundation Fraud
Every religion seems to attract scammers. The Islamist Deniz Feneri foundation was the biggest corruption case in Germany’s history. The trial had far reaching consequences as they foundation had donated to the Turkish Prime Ministers party. The foundation’s money was meant to be for suffering Palestinian, Turkish and Pakistan refugees. However the directors of the foundation used the money to buy real estate, stocks and even a cruise boat. The main directors admitted to taking $US30 million out of the funds bank account and were jailed for fraud.
The Nigerian 419 E-Mail Scams
419 Nigerian scams are famous. Because they are so famous they have begun to take the form of charity requests. Instead of transfering money on behalf of a Nigerian “Prince” the email subject will take the line of a charity.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is s a community organization that advocates on behalf of low- and moderate-income families. On issues such issues as neighborhood safety, voter registration, health care, affordable housing, and other social issues. While they did do some good after several embezzlement issues and controversies it filed for liquidation in 2010.
The Katrina Internet Scams
Katrina is another natural disaster that the scammers took advantage of. Days after Katrina hit phony sites were registered and requests for donations emailed out. Some scam websites also copied websites of legal organizations like the Red Cross. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has estimated that over 4,600 websites were registered. The FBI were instrumental in shutting a number of these frauds down. It wasn’t just scams but frauds as well with more than 600 people charged in 22 states who received money from the government or charities instead of the intended storm victims. Some of the worst offenders included a woman who apparently watched her two children drown in the water. But in fact she had no children and was living hundreds of miles away when Katrina struck.
The 9-11 Charity Scams
The 9-11 terrorist act changed America and the world. Many legitimate charities were setup to help victims. Unfortunately there were also many scams collecting donations for families that instead went personally into their back pocket. One of the notable scams involved two men who sold t-shirts from a custom painted pick up truck with September 11 themes.
Some scams involved New York City workers. 130 retired firefighters and police officers have claimed benefits for mental and emotional trauma at ground zero when some were not even at the scene. While investigations are still continuing it is believed that up to $400 million in tax payer funds could have been stolen.