Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The 5 Most Common Online Swindles/Scams

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has issued the following information in reference to Online Swindles/Scams.  Pass this information around to your friends so that they are aware and will not be taken.
    1) FBI Impersonation E-mail Scams
        These are scams in which a criminal poses as the FBI to defraud victims, although criminals also will pose as representatives of other government agencies, such as the IRS or Law Enforcement.  IC3 received about 39 complaints a day about spam e-mails supposedly from the FBI demanding payments for one thing or another, the report states, with loses totaling more than $9,600 - or $245 per complaint - per day.  As the report points out, government agencies don't send unsolicited e-mails. 
    2) Auto-auction Fraud
        This is what it sound like: Criminals advertise a vehicle at a great price, claim they must sell fast because they're moving or being deployed by the military, and try to rush the sale, asking for partial or full payment right away through a third party.  Of course, there is no vehicle, and if the victim makes a payment, the money is gone for good. 
        IC3 received a complaint about this type of scam about every tow hours during 2011.  Each complaint resulted in an average loss of $2,000 about $8.2 million for the year. 
    3)  Romance Scams
         Swindlers have always preyed on loneliness, and the Internet has only made it easier for them. IC3 received more than 5,600 complaints of romance scams last year, with victim losses totaling $50.4 million, or an average loss of $8,900.         

        Romance scammers troll social networking sites, dating sites and chat rooms looking for victims and then pour on the charm, using flowers, poetry and other gifts to declare their "undying love," the report states.  They'll tell stories of their own tragedies, family problems, personal injuries and other hardships, and then ask for financial help.  And then, of course, they disappear.  Although women between the ages of 40 and 59 were the largest group of victims, the report shows that people of either sex and any age are vulnerable. 
    4)  Work-from-home Scams
         This is a double-whammy scam, since it not only can steal money from the victims but also can make them into criminals. Cyber criminals often use these scams to move and launder their ill-gotten money. They advertise jobs through newspapers, online job sites, e-mails and social networking sites, and recruit victims as "mules" to move money through their own accounts. In the process the scammers could steal the victims' identities and money, to the tune of $20 million from complaints files in 2011. And the other shoe can drop: "Regrettably, due to their participation, these individuals may face criminal charges," the report states.
    5)   Loan Intimidation Scams
          This is a fairly complex scam, in which fraudsters use personal information on the victims - including Social Security numbers, employer information and bank account numbers - and pretend to be from the FBI or another federal agency, a law firm or an official - sounding institution.  They tell the victims they are delinquent in a payday loan and threaten legal action if they don't pay up. 
          IC3 says it's not clear how the criminals obtain the victims' personal info, but many of the victims had filled out online applications for credit cards or loans before they were swindled.  These scams netted more then $8 million last year, IC3 said, with complaints coming in at an average of 27 per day. 

    We would like to add that the figures given by IC3 are very understated.  It's estimated that up to 70% of victims do not report these crimes.  The best 'guestimate' have these scams are a $4 billion a year industry.  The best defense against scams listed above is Public Education.