Scams: spot and avoid them: frauds and scams are nothing new. The Internet, however, makes it easier for criminals to circulate and scams to proliferate. Scammers and fraudsters come from diverse backgrounds, and are often difficult to spot. Many manipulate without guilt or remorse. Here, we outline some of the most common frauds so that you can avoid them.

Author:Donnellon, Brien
Position:MONEY
 
FREE EXCERPT

What is a scam? A scam is an illegal scheme to obtain money by means of deception. Scams come in different forms, including letters, emails, telephone calls, faked addresses and IDs, and text messages. Many rely on the victim handing over confidential information, or by simply stealing discarded documents. Examples include:

Phishing: Victims receive an email that looks as if it has been sent from a reliable source (e.g. a financial institution) asking to confirm bank account details. The information is used to gain access to your account or to steal your identity.

Fake websites: These criminal websites attempt to steal your identity through phishing and include fraudulent online shops, sites that distribute pirated software or promote get-rich-quick schemes.

Advanced fee scams: The victim receives a letter, email, fax or phone call offering a large sum of money if they can help someone transfer millions of pounds out of their country. For example, the Nigerian 419 scam asked victims to send bank account details and a transfer fee to initiate the transaction.

Share scams: A stranger phones and attempts to sell the victim shares from an unknown company whose value will significantly increase within a few days. The victims often feel confident because they do not have to pay any money in advance only provide their account details.

Fund transfer scams: An email or fax asks you to receive a payment into your bank or building society account, take it out as cash, and send it abroad in return for a commission. The con artist asks for your account details in advance.

Password theft: Victims receive a call from a person pretending to be from their bank or credit card company, often under the pretence there is a problem with the account. To verify they are speaking to the correct person, the scammer asks for pin and security numbers. The victim provides the numbers, the scammer confirms they are correct and is therefore permitted to continue discussing the case with the victim. The scammer then has the possibility to withdraw money from the victim's account.

Chain letters: The victim receives a letter, often passed on from a friend, with a list of names. They are asked to send, for example, SFr 10 to the person at the top of the list, add their name to the list, then photocopy the letter and forward it to 50 friends. According to the letter, once your name reaches the top of the list you will receive thousands of francs for the initial SFr 10 investment. This scam...

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