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Internet Scams

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Internet Scams:

There are literally thousands of scams that are being played out on the internet. The following is a few of the most popular scams and ways to help prevent becoming a victim. Although the number of scams is great, the themes, or endings are usually the same. They want your money or personal information. If you’re going to swim in the Internet, you need to know how to protection yourself from the sharks.

“Phishing” (Fishing):

The bad guy copies a legitimate on-line banking website, creates his own website and sends thousands of e-mails directing people to updating their personal information because there have been problems with Identity theft. A link to the fake website is in the e-mail. When the account holder goes to the fake website, which looks real, it will direct them to a page where they enter all their personal information to include the PIN to their ATM card. Once the bad guy has this information they will generate their own ATM card and start using the card to obtain as much cash as they can before the bank shuts down the card. It’s hard to investigate these cases because the bad guy and the computers are usually out of the US. One good clue to help determine if the e-mail is fake is by checking the introduction. A fake E-mail will say something like “Dear Valued Customer….”. Banks have huge databases filled with data. A genuine E-mail from your bank will have your name on it. Plus, don’t use a link to a website from inside a suspicious e-mail. If you bank on the internet, you probably have your own link to your bank in your favorites list, use that link. Plus, be very cautious when you receive E-mails asking for personal information. If any doubts contact the bank.

“Nigerian” Scams:

This is not one scam, but many based on one simple ending… “Send me the money”. Before the Internet, they sent letters. Now they send e-mails to thousands of people. These scams will range from, you’ve lost a relative in Nigeria, who has left you a lot of money, but you need to send money to clear up the legal issues; to a Nigerian business man who needs help laundering money from a government project. They will even use on-line “chatting” to make contact. There was a recent EPSO case where someone told the victim, who they had been “Chatting” with for almost a year, they were on vacation in Nigeria and their mother got sick. They needed money fast and wanted the victim to cash a certified check and wire them money.

If you remember one simple rule you will probably be safe. Never wire money to ANYONE you don’t know, and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER wire money out of the country. I was told by a Secret Service Agent that Nigeria has broken ties with the United States. This means any money sent to Nigeria is gone. Another version of the scam is where they get you to fax them a copy of your Drivers License. This is usually after you refuse to send money. Then they try to open credit accounts under your name and get their money that way.

“Make money by Working from Home….”

The new scam on the block is where bad guy hires someone via the internet to work from home. This person is told they will be working for an international (first clue) mail order company (or something similar) that wishes to open a U.S. branch. The victim’s job is to re-ship items purchased from the company and to forward any payments back to the company. After about two weeks they will start receiving checks and Postal Money Orders made out to them personally (second clue). They are directed by their boss to deposit the money into their personal bank account (big clue) and wire the money to the European branch (BIG CLUE) which is in St. Petersburg, Russia. Everything is fine for about another week. Then people start calling wanting to know where their stuff is. Not knowing what is going on, the victim contacts their boss, who states everything has been shipped and will even give the victim bogus UPS shipping numbers. The short story is this; the bad guy put a whole bunch of stuff on eBay using the victim’s name and address. By the time we get involved thousands of dollars have been wired to Russia. The victim cashed U.S. Postal Money Orders so it’s a federal crime. Now even Postal Money Orders are not safe. Credit Cards or Paypal are your best bet for eBay type transactions because of the limited liability for fraudulent use. Plus, I would no longer use Postal Money Orders.

“eBay” Scams:

There are many scams using eBay. The key here is to make sure you stay within the rules set up by eBay. Plus, use paypal if possible. This will give you some protection if you are the victim of fraud. The one key rule; NEVER cut a deal outside of eBay. One popular scam is to put a fictitious item on eBay, let everyone bid on it and at the end send e-mails to the top bidders saying the winner of the auction backed out and offer the item to them if they will send money. These types of transactions are not covered/protected by eBay’s fraud team. You also should be careful about purchasing large dollar items, like a car, on eBay. My rule would be to only purchase something close enough to where you can pick it up. Never send a deposit, even to a 3rd party holding company. There have been cases where the bad guys created bogus companies, and had the victim send the money to this “holding company” thinking it was safe. These cases typically are within the U.S., but are still hard to work because the suspects will use fake IDs to get the money.


There are many scams on the Internet. You can lower your chances of being victimized by following a few simple rules. Never wire money to someone you don’t know, use a credit card or Paypal when using eBay, and be very careful when providing personal information on the Internet.

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