Tech Magazine

Five Internet Scams to Look Out For

Posted on the 30 September 2011 by Nerdywerds @NerdyWerds

The internet is fraught with danger; there are scams around every corner

Here at Nerdy Werds, I usually try to write articles that solve basic problems you may be having. Why do phones drop calls, what is cloud storage, things of that nature. But I'd be remiss if I didn't give coverage to a far more pressing area of concern online; scams. Everyone that uses the internet on a regular basis has seen scammers attempt to steal money, information or both from them. I personally have a few Nigerian princes on the payroll just in case it's not a scam.

But in all sincerity, online fraud and scamming is a huge concern. As technology improves, so too do the scammers. And if you thought a down economy might get to the heart strings of a scammer and cause them to cease operations, you are outright fooling yourself. Necessity is the mother of invention, but it may also be the impetus for fraud. Scammers take advantage of the desperation in the world to make a quick buck. But, fear not folks, this is a battle we can and will win. All we need is some good information and an eye for scams, and they can't touch us. So with that being said, let's get started.

I mentioned Nigerian princes earlier, because it is a well known scam. Don't worry, I've sent no money to any scammer. There are several other well known internet scams like this, so we're going to tackle them a bit differently than normal; a top five list. The history of a scam doesn't usually matter, you just need to know what it is and what to look for.

Top Five Internet Scams

5. Travel/Vacation Scams

My wife and I are dying to go to the beach for a week. But, unfortunately, we've cut our vacation budget due to the down economy. But, curious people that we are, we've continued searching for a good deal, in case the right one happens to come to us. Lately, I've run across several offers for packages like "6 days, 5 nights in Orlando, all expenses paid". All they want is either thousands of dollars in "fees" or just one or two hundred for food. I've read stories about people who have been so desperate to get away, that they didn't listen to their inner voice and wound up with a hotel room on the 13th floor somewhere.

4. Dating Site Scams

Everybody just wants to be loved, right? Of course they do, that's why there are hundreds of dating sites out there claiming to deliver it to you. You'll notice a common theme develop here, but scammers pray on need; need for money, need for love, need for attention; things like that. And scammers lately have swarmed dating sites like sharks when there's blood in the water. They see that good people out there just want someone to share life with. And they will use this to their advantage. This scam is not an instant payoff, the scammer actually engages you for a while before they try anything. They will act like the ideal boyfriend or girlfriend, and will actually feign interest and be involved with you for a while, without asking for anything. Then they will tell you they need help. They have left the country for business, or a family emergency, or something like that. And they'll play the relationship card and ask for your help, maybe even adding that they trust you and need you. They will ask you to cash a money order for them and then wire the money to someone. The only thing you'll get from this is a broken heart and a lighter wallet.

3. Disaster Relief Scams

Personally, this one makes me a bit sick. With the recent natural disasters in Japan and Haiti, people have seen a way to capitalize on the suffering of others. A scammer will create a dummy site masquerading as a charity and then send out emails asking for donations. They will ask for a modest donation to "help the victims". They will ask for your credit card information to process your donation. That's it, you money is gone and the people in need are no better off. If you are ever going to give out sensitive information like that online, you need to make sure the connection is secured. Look for the "https" in the address bar any time you give out credit information.

2. Fake Auctions or Sales

I think I built my first computer entirely out of parts I ordered on Ebay. I love that site. I mean, where else can you get deals like that. This is exactly the sentiment scammers thrive on. How many of us have searched for something on Ebay, found a deal that was too good to be true, and bid anyways? I have, I'll admit it. Luckily I did not win that auction. But people fall prey to this EVERY day. The scammer creates an auction with an item that should sell for a lot more than they are asking. Usually, the seller does not have much feedback, which is something you should be looking for. This scam is wildly successful, because who can turn down a deal. Shop with caution; look for positive feedback and read what others have to say about the seller.

Craigslist is another site fraught with scammers. But on Craigslist, there is less regulation, so it's even easier to fall victim to scammers. My wife and I wanted an English bulldog so badly, and found 2 puppies on Craigslist for $200. The seller said they were moving and couldn't take the pups with them, so they needed to sell them quickly. It seemed fishy, but plausible, so my wife and I bit. They then tried the same money wiring scam as from the dating scams. Don't buy into too good to be true deals; everyone wants a deal, but it's not worth being scammed.

1. Loan Scams

With the state of people's credit today, this seems like a natural place for scammers to appear. There are a lot of variation on this, but I'm going to give an overview of the general template for them. In researching this article, I found a website that has extensive information about the warning signs of loan scams and how to protect yourself. I really recommend checking them out, as they have a page dedicated to reported loan scams.

The gist of a loan scam is you apply for a loan with a small, little known, broker. They draw up fairly official looking contracts and the process seems legit. They will "review" your application and tell you your credit score requires a collateral deposit or fee. After sending them the money, they'll tell you that you're deemed too high risk,or your last payment was insufficient upon second look, or something like that, and they'll give you the option to pay another fee or cancel your loan. Should you cancel, you can try to get you money back, but it's not going to happen, it's gone. If you think about paying again, please check the site I mentioned above and check the scams listing; because you're heading for that list shortly.

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