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Investigators Reveal Top 5 Internet Scams in the U.S.

Posted On   date20/03/2014

Investigators Reveal Top 5 Internet Scams in the U.S.

International scams seem to come from every part of the world. Email phishing, romance schemes and even Facebook scams are just a few of the many ways that foreign criminals try to get their hands on American money. The danger is not just across the borders though. Scam artists in the U.S. rake in revenue in the billions every year, always at the expense unsuspecting and trusting victims.

The FBI collects data on mass-marketing fraud crimes in the U.S. but private investigators caution the data is only the tip of the iceberg.  Most victims never report the crime, as victims often feel embarrassed.  Others feel there is nothing that can be done, so they don’t bother reporting the scam to police.

Below are the top 5 scams to watch out for, based on criminal activity in 2014.

Overpayment scams. Have you ever sold anything online, to a stranger? Chances are that you have, and that you have been safe when it comes to documenting payments terms and shipping. A rising fraud crime in the U.S. is overpayment scams, where the buyer will send too much money (in the form of a check) and then ask the seller to simply send a check back for the difference only. This is a new twist in Nigerian scams and is increasingly common. When the original check is found to be counterfeit, the seller is stuck footing the overpayment bill. To protect yourself from this scam, only take payment electronically or in cash if you meet the buyer in a neutral, safe location. If you have received a check for too much, send the entire check back and ask for a new one – never send your own check or money to make up for the difference.

Charity scams. When disasters occur in the U.S., citizens are often ready to pull out their wallets to help out their neighbors. Scammers prey upon this good nature by soliciting donations through fake charities. These scammers are good. Some may even send emails that appear to be from reputable charities that have a link that will redirect you to a supposedly “secure” site where you input your banking information. Be sure to protect your privacy and personal data.  As a rule of thumb, if you want to donate to a good cause, visit the official page of the charity, mail a check to the physical address or call the charity directly to donate over the phone. There are even some charity mobile applications now that you can download and use securely. Never respond to an email with your financial information, or give it out over the phone to a person who has called you soliciting donations. Be safe, and go straight to the source yourself.

Phishing scams. Phishing scams are becoming more and more difficult to detect.  Often overlooked or missing by your email spam filters, these emails land in our inbox and appear to be from a trusted company or bank that we know well, and where we may even have a real account.  These emails will request you to login and enter your information, and when you click on the links in the email, you will be taken directly to a site that looks just like your bank or company.  For some urgent reason, the scammers will request you to enter your personal data to verify you account, and you may be asked for you social security number, credit card, date of birth and so on.  Never enter the data and never click on a link in an email from your bank or any email that looks suspicious.  Instead, visit the company or bank website, or call them directly.

Investment scams. These scams can range from ponzi schemes, complex investment fraud, fake companies and websites, pump and dump stocks, and so on.  Most victims get approached by a great opportunity and the time to buy or do business is now, right now!  Sound investments and wise choices are never made on the run and while being pressured to act immediately.  Take your time, stay skeptical and due your homework.  If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.  If you’re considering an investment or new partnership in a foreign country, contact a professional about doing your international due diligence.

Romance scams. Love is for sale, and there is serious money to be made.  Experienced internet criminals know that with the right words, the right relationships, and the right amount of time, they can gather enough information and data on you to make a killing.  They can slowly gain your trust, and then drain your bank account.  Losses can be staggering and devastating!  You do not need to be using online dating sites to be a victim, as con-artists now also target victims on social media sites such as Facebook.  If you’ve met someone online, be smart and get a dating background check before it’s too late.

The trust and patriotism that Americans possess for their fellow countrymen is what domestic scammers count on to perpetrate their schemes.  Be skeptical of anyone claiming to be from the U.S. but traveling overseas who needs your help.  Don’t be a victim.  Verify first, and then decide.

C. Wright
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