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Internet Scams and Frauds

Sep 12, 2008
Internet scams and frauds are perpetrated worldwide. With the widespread use of the Internet, these criminals have easier access to their unsuspecting victims. The most important thing to do is to be vigilant and careful so as to avoid falling into their traps.

Incidents of scams and frauds are increasing every year. Many people fall victims to these crimes and lose thousands, and some even millions of bucks. Today, as scores of people are using the Internet, criminals are taking advantage of this, and many of them are using this technology as a means to promote their illegal activities.

The FBI received numerous complaints of online frauds and scams. Based on the report of Gartner, a research firm, there are about 10 million Americans who have been victimized by these criminals.

Phishing is the latest form of scam on the Internet. Scammers use e-mails to send information of what seems to be a legitimate website and eventually, if not dismissed by the victim, ask for his or her personal information. Unknowingly, he or she is being lured to a fake website and the personal information thus obtained is misused. Right from there, stealing from bank accounts and credit cards can begin.

Auction Fraud
This is where criminals post some items that they sell for low prices. What happens next is that the scammer will ask for the payment and promise to send the item but unfortunately the victim will never ever receive the product. There are numerous strategies employed by these fake sellers so that prospective buyers will not suspect something fishy is going on.

Nigerian 419 Letter
This is the most famous Internet scam that has been spreading all around the world and has caused huge loss of money to unsuspecting victims. The scammers will send an e-mail, which goes something like this:

The letter will convince the victim to be an accomplice and that they need to transfer the money to his or her account and they will promise a cut of about 30 to 40 percent from the money sent to them. Afterwards, they will request the victim to travel in a specific destination to meet with them, to "prepare all necessary documents". However, they will ask for an advance fee as payment for taxes, bribes and attorney's fee, before they will transfer the funds. Sometimes, if the victims happen to travel overseas as requested by the scammers, they are kidnapped and not allowed to go until they produce the money that these criminals are asking for.

The letters vary, but the same story is recounted that a person, usually a government or a bank employee, has knowledge of a big sum of unclaimed money, which he cannot directly get at, often because he has no right to it. The offer is mostly millions of dollars, enough to convince the victims to grab the offer and do whatever they are told to do. Unfortunately, the million of dollars or the gold does not exist. These are all fake, and the only objective is to get a large amount of money from the victims.
According to FBI reports, some of the victims of the Nigerian letter had been killed while others are nowhere to be found.

Multilevel Marketing / Pyramid Schemes
Members of these schemes recruit individuals and ask them to pay a monthly fee to sign up other individuals into a program. Usually, they don't have any product or goods to sell. Members are just promised a commission, based on the number of individuals they are able to recruit. But, before the individuals receive their commission, the organizers will immediately disappear together with the monthly fees.

Lottery Scam
The lottery scam has been going on for years. A fake notice of lottery winning will be emailed to several email addresses. The winner will then be asked to provide the victim's personal information to a free email account. The scammer will then ask for some money as processing fee for taxes and other fees in order to claim the prize. The scammer will ask that the payment should be sent through wire transfer. Once the processing fee has been paid, then the scammer will disappear, carrying off the money and no prizes will be claimed by the winner because it is all fake.
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