1. Catfishing and Romanic Scams. This type of scammer take advantage of your emotions and your heart. Most of the time they will meet you on the internet (sometime in person) and overwhelm you with praise and attention. At some point in the “relationship” they tell you that they want to meet you in person but don’t have the money too or need money to move closer to you because they want to marry you. After many months of corresponding (or shorter) on the internet, facetime, or on the phone, you of course want this “perfect” person to be nearer to you to further that relationship. This is when your heart and emotions lead you astray. The scammer will ask you to send or wire money. Once you do send them money they are gone and can’t be found. Or they might stick around to keep scamming you out of more money by saying someone robbed them when they went to buy the ticket to visit you. Remember any person can create a false identity on social media that include a tons of pictures that aren’t even them. They might even have hijacked someone else’s profile. Unfortunately, some victims even marry the scammers and make them an owner on their bank account, investment accounts, and real estate only to find out years later, this person was truly a scammer and did not love them. It is hard to imagine someone going to those extremes to get money but they do. DO NOT EVER send money to individual you have never met over the internet. Protect yourself and your assets. Find out if this person really exist. Many legitimate companies and private investigators will do a search for you to find out if the person exists and their background. Use very sources to find out more about this person. If this person wants to meet you make sure it is in a public place and you take someone along with you.
2. Social Media Quizzes. Although some of these quizzes are fun to take like “what state should I live in?”, “which Star Wars character am I most like?”, or “what Disney princess am I most like?”, these quizzes are the start of your problems. Scammers use these quizzes to start stockpiling your information to hack into financial accounts, email accounts, and other assets by asking you questions that relate to what you might use for a password or use as answers for the verification questions for an account. They start with one quiz and once you finished they send you more quizzes or take you to their page full of quizzes and lure you into taking many more quizzes. Many times the quizzes ask you to forward this quiz to your friends by you allowing the scammers access to your contact information in your email accounts. Sometimes they get you hooked and have you sign up for an account that has a monthly fee. DO NOT take any quizzes that are free and you do not know who created them. AVOID giving out personal information that you use to access email accounts, financial account, contacts in your email accounts, words you use for passwords or access verification answers. Avoid giving them any credit or debit cards information, even if that means you will never know which Star Wars character or Disney Princess you are.
3. Chain Message Hoaxes. These scammers claim that an app will now cost you money, or you will lose all your memory photos, or that any photos you have on an app or on your phone will be upload and shared (the message will sometimes state “nude” photos), unfortunately the list goes on and on. These scammers make their messages look official by deleting one letter or switching the order of the letter to make it seem like it came from a legitimate company. Many times you will read the message an automatically overlook the smaller details or your eyes just plays a trick on you making you miss the error and read the message correctly. Many times the ULR will be shorten or changed from a legitimate company to a fake company. CHECK the messages carefully for spelling misakes, poor gramar and other mistakes in the adress area. (Did you catch the 3 mistakes in the prior sentence or did your eyes glance over them?)
4. Charities and Natural Disasters. We all want to help the less fortunate or someone hit by a natural disaster, but that is the time the scammer come out in flocks. They tug at your heart, whether it’s for the children in the 3rd world countries with no food or it’s the people in your own state whose house was destroyed by fire, floods, tornadoes, or a hurricane. Once the money is sent you will not be able to get it back. Many times the fake charity will have a very similar name to a legitimate charity. BEFORE YOU SEND MONEY MAKE SURE that the organization is reputable, check with the local agencies where the disaster occurred, check with the Better Business Bureau, review the ULR to make sure it is correct for the company you want to send money to, and you can even check with the IRS to make sure they are a legitimate non-profit organization. https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search
5. Shopping on the Internet. Many times this starts by you searching for a great deal for an item that you need now, maybe for an item you lost or it was broken or it’s just an awesome deal! You think you need it now and the clock is ticking, you only have 5 more minutes before the deal is gone, so you don’t do your research on the company. Next thing you know you’ve been scammed. Many times these great deals are ads by companies that do not exist or they are coming from oversees or the items that you receive are grossly exaggerated. After you send the money, these scammers will often send you an email containing a fake receipt. Sometimes you click on the fake receipt and you’ve opened spyware or malware to get more personal information. Any time you purchase online you need to know the company you are buying from and what you are purchasing. Remember these scammer are pros, if they are willing to create a fake website they probably are willing to send you a fake receipt, and create fake reviews for products that don’t exists. DO YOUR RESEARCH on the companies you plan to purchase from and do not buy from companies you do not know. Yes you might miss a great deal but you could also save yourself a huge headache and money by not becoming a victim. CHECK with the local/state government to make sure they exist. Many states have a website that you can check to make sure they really exists and are incorporated in that state. CHECK with the BBB. DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Unfortunately these are just a few of the scams. There are scams for loans, lottery, insurance, travel, health, safety and even scammers who say your family is in jail or they are going to kidnap a family member. Scammers have found a way to cheat you out of your money in every aspect of your life. There is no “safe” area of your life any more when you use the internet. They play on a person’s emotions, their insecurities, needs, and wants.
This mean that as a user and a consumer on the internet we must protect ourselves by doing our research, protecting our passwords, our accounts, our private information and pictures. This is a daunting task and it will involve time. By contacting the BBB, state/local government/ IRS and the Federal Trade Commission you can find out if these companies are legitimate companies. Take the time to do research, if the offer is too good to be true then it probably is a scam. You don’t want to become a victim of these scammers.