How to Spot a Scam a Mile Off
© 2021 Elena Fawkner
Received the following forwarded email from a subscriber
"I am an Executive Director with the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a member of the
Contract Advisory Committee (CAC). I am seeking your
assistance to enable me transfer the sum of
$26,500,000 (Twenty Six Million, Five hundred Thousand
United States Dollars) into your private/company
Carole told me she has received "3 or 4 of these in the last
week, I think from different people. I deleted the others. It makes
me nervous. Sounds like a dangerous scam. "
That's exactly what it is, of course. Maybe you're reading this
thinking "I can't believe people are still falling for the Nigeria
scam after all this time". On the other hand, maybe you're
reading this thinking, "Wow, I might have responded to that. How
am I supposed to know what's a scam and what's real?
The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of people
coming online, for the first time, each year. Many of these
people have simply not been exposed to scams like the ones
that are constantly touted on the Internet before. Many of these
people come online to try and find a way to make money with their
computers and/or they're looking for ideas for making money
The fact that they may not recognize scams off the bat doesn't
mean they're naive or stupid, it just means that they haven't been
in an environment where this sort of stuff came their way before
now. And don't the scammers know it.
Like vultures circling overhead, they await their prey. They know
they have only a narrow window of opportunity because it doesn't
take newbies long to catch on so they have to be quick about it. And
how do they do that? They hang out where newbies hang out so
they can get them while they're still young and fresh and vulnerable.
They're nothing but predators looking to pick off the easiest game.
Wouldn't want to have to engage in any real work, after all.
In this article we look at several main scams and how to recognize
=> Nigerian Advance Fee Scheme
The gist of this worldwide scheme is that small to medium-size
businesses receive a letter from someone who purports to be
an official of the Nigerian government or major utility or similar
who needs to transfer some huge amount of money out of the
country. The money typically is an overpayment by the government
on a procurement contract. The object of the exercise is to get
you to provide your bank account details (for the purpose of
wire transferring the money of course). Surprise surprise, there's
a transfer all right but not INTO your account!
=> The FTC "Dirty Dozen"
These are the top 12 scams that have been identified by the
(U.S.) Federal Trade Commission as the most likely to arrive
1. Business Opportunities - often pyramid schemes (see below)
thinly disguised as legitimate opportunities to earn money.
What to look for: high returns with little or no effort or cash outlay
2. Bulk Email - offers of lists of thousands of email addresses
all of whom, of course, are just dying to receive your marketing
What to look for: "Bulk Email Works! 10,000 addresses for $9.99."
3. Chain Letters - send $5 to the next name on the list then
cross the bottom name off the list, replace it with your own, then
forward the letter to 500 of your nearest and dearest.
What to look for: A jail cell. This is a pyramid scheme and is
illegal. The letter goes to great pains to say that it is not illegal.
4. Envelope Stuffing - think you're going to be paid for stuffing
envelopes? Think again. You get a kit that you can turn around
to recruit others to an envelope stuffing scam of your very own!
Watch out for craft assembly work as well. You'll probably find
all of your hard work is not up to their exacting "quality standards"
and therefore you won't get paid for your work.
5. Health and Diet Scams - magic pills that eradicate the need
to eat fewer calories than you expend in order to lose weight.
They don't work.
6. Effortless Income - no such thing. As the FTC says, if they
worked, everyone would be doing it.
7. Free Goods - you're told you'll get a free computer. You have
to pay a fee to join a club and then told you have to recruit other
members. You get paid in computers. They're nothing but pyramid
8. Investment Opportunities - look for outrageously high rates
of return with no risk.
9. Cable Descrambler Kits - they probably won't work and even
if they do, you're stealing a service from a cable company and
committing a crime.
10. Guaranteed Loans or Credit - pay a fee and you're
given a list of lenders, all of whom turn you down. Credit cards
11. Credit Repair - no matter how bad your credit, pay these
people and they'll fix it. They generally just advise you how to lie
on future credit applications - how to commit fraud in other words.
12. Vacation Prize Promotions - your accommodations will be so
bad you'll want to pay for an upgrade. You'll probably have to pay
to schedule a vacation at the time you want as well.
=> Pyramid Schemes
Make money by recruiting members into the program without giving
anything of equal value in exchange for membership fees. Contrast
MLM (multi-level marketing schemes). These are not pyramid
schemes because they involve the sale of products and services
in return for membership.
=> Medical Billing
Prepackaged businesses requiring an investment of $2,000 to
$8,000. Few people who purchase one of these "businesses"
are able to find clients, start a business and generate revenues.
Competition in this area is fierce and concentrated around a
few big, well-entrenched firms.
=> Your In Box
Finally, go to your in-box now. You'll find no end of scams sitting
right there. Here's one that just arrived in mind ...
"Subject: How to make $1,000,000 in 20 weeks selling to
Newcomers on the Net"
Like all the rest, it gets the one-finger salute - index finger
to the delete key. Works beautifully every time.
Where to go for more information on internet scams:
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