Scams and fraud have been going on since the beginning of time. But with the dawn of the internet and new technology sweeping the globes, scammers are finding new and creative ways to rip people off. Below are the Top 10 most common scams, according to Harris County Precinct 4 Constable, Mark Herman.
Online Dating, Love, & Romance Scam
Online dating is a booming business, and sadly, scammers love to exploit the lonely. In the classic version of this scam, the Scammer opens a fake dating site profile using stolen photos. Male Online Dating Scammers are often located in West Africa. Females are often based in Eastern Europe. The prospective Victim is contacted by the Scammer, who engages them in online messaging, emails, texting, and finally phone calls. The aim is always to extract money. The Scammer will often offer to travel to meet the Victim in person.Ploys include:
- On the way to the airport, the Scammer (and sometimes their child) has had an accident or is violently robbed at gunpoint. Hospital fees are urgently requested.
- Visa fees are required.
You receive an email claiming you’ve won a lottery, but you can’t recall ever entering it. Scammers usually claim these fake lotteries are sponsored by Coca-Cola or a major car brand. Of course, to claim your millions, you’ve got to pay a fee or submit your bank account information.
It doesn’t get much lower than preying financially on folks who are struggling financially. With this scam, you’ll receive an email offering you an unlimited loan at a very low-interest rate. The sender’s email is almost invariably from a free email address, such as yahoo or gmail. All you have to do, the Scammer claims, is provide personal information about yourself, fill out an application, pay a fee, and the cash is yours. Except, of course, this is a scam. You’ll never see that money again.
An email arrives, ostensibly from a West African official. Sometimes it’s the Chairman of the Central Bank of Nigeria. Other times it’s disenfranchised royalty. Whatever the case, they’re claiming they’ve got millions of dollars illicitly hidden away. They just need help from a kind Westerner like you to help them get it out of their country. Just provide your bank account details and the fortune will be transferred. He will arrange to obtain his share, leaving a big chunk for you. But then, after you’ve given them your bank account info, and before any money has been transferred, a hiccup occurs. Some Diplomat or Bank Manager or [insert official sounding title here] has to be bribed before the funds can be transferred.
Dead Relative Scam
A relative you didn’t know you had has just died in West Africa. Behold! They died a millionaire and this incredibly amicable Lawyer or Executor wants to get your inheritance safely across the world to you. Of course, he has to be paid (again, and again, and again).
Dying Person Scam
This one is a variant on the Dead Relative Scam. A wealthy philanthropist is lying on their death bed. Their Doctor or Caregiver or Lawyer or Whoever has chosen you to carry on said rich person’s good work and invest the fortune for them. The monies will soon be in your account, once you have paid some legal or service fees.
Property Rental Scam
An ad on Craigslist, Gumtree, or Facebook catches your eye. Wow! A beautiful apartment or house is for rent and at a great price. You drool over the pics of your opulent new home. The owner just wants the rent sent upfront by MoneyGram or Western Union before you can meet him and check out the rental property. Nice try!
Trunk Box Scam
A Soldier in Afghanistan (or another war-torn country) has discovered a Trunk Box full of cash. Can you help him get it home and share the bounty?
You’ve discovered an ad on Craiglist or Facebook, or maybe you were sent an email. The ad is for adorable puppies, and they are adorable. You purchase your pup and them proceed to wait impatiently for your adorable new pet to arrive. Except, they never do.
Got $30 000 USD to invest? Well, Gold Sellers from Ghana or Guinea or Mali (etc) can offer you kilograms of gold at incredible prices. They will even agree to send you a small 5g sample so you can confirm its quality and carat. Then, you just send the money and your gold will be sent by courier. But, like the puppy, it will never arrive.
In conclusion, there are many, many types of scam out there. These tend to be the most common, and you’ve probably encountered at least one of them before already. Just remember; always be on your guard if an offer seems too good to be true, and if you feel the least bit suspicious, trust your gut.