Consumer scams are not new.
As an example, in the 1920’s, the Ponzi scheme (bogus investment swindle) was a notorious way to bilk individuals from their savings. However, the idea of that specific scam goes back earlier, to 1857, when Charles Dickens described it in his novel Little Dorrit. The recent example of Bernie Madoff, operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, is testament that old ideas can be given a fresh suit to steal from people anew.
Of course criminal behavior goes back much earlier than Charles Dickens depicts. One of the Ten Commandments (“You shall not steal”) is indicative of how long criminal acts have been problematic to Mankind.
Nowadays, a modern way for criminals to put on a new suit is by cloaking themselves behind the Internet.
Examples of Internet Scams and Fraud
The list of ways that theft is perpetrated via the Internet is seemingly endless.
The FBI maintains a website resource of Internet Fraud and how to avoid such. The FBI notes that the most common categories of Internet fraud include:
- Internet auction fraud
- Non-delivery of merchandise purchased from websites
- Credit card fraud
- Investment fraud
- Business fraud
- Nigerian Letter Fraud
That last is so well known as an example of Internet fraud that the FBI lists it on the same page as its own singular category. Although it has been bilking individuals of their savings “online” since the 1990’s, the scam goes back decades earlier in the form of direct mail and faxes. (For more info, click here for the Nigerian email scam.)
Due to the recession and a demand for new income sources, “work-at-home” scams have seen substantial rises in activity. The following article and video from the ABC NEWS Business Unit, Google Sues to Stop Work-From-Home Scams, highlights a number of such scams, including the widely propagated Google work-at-home scam, which includes “fake news articles, fake news blogs and fake testimonials to promote their services and direct them to credit card processing sites like the one run by Pacific WebWorks, Google said.”
Furthermore, the article states “Google is warning customers to be wary of the following work-from-home promotions: Google Adwork, Google ATM, Google Biz Kit, Google Cash, Earn Google Cash Kit, Google Fortune, Google Marketing Kit, Google Profits, The Home Business Kit for Google, Google StartUp Kit, and Google Works.”
Protect Yourself from Internet Scams
Internet fraud is common. And even though “auction fraud” is one category listed by the FBI, the vast majority of purchases made via auction sites, such as eBay, are fairly transacted. In other words only a small percentage are fraudulent. The same is true for business fraud and online credit card transactions in general: the vast majority of purchases made over the Internet are transacted fairly.
On the other hand, work-at-home opportunities are particularly prone to fraud. According to the ABC video (link above) 54 out of 55 such work-at-home opportunities are scams. That means any time you see an advertisement for some work-at-home “opportunity,” there is a very high likelihood that its sole intent is to scam you out of your money.
The US Justice Department lists a number of ways to avoid becoming defrauded, including:
- Being Careful About Giving Out Valuable Personal Data Online
- Being Especially Careful About Online Communications With Someone Who Conceals His True Identity
- Watching Out for “Advance-Fee” Demands
For more info on protecting yourself from Internet scams click on this link from the United States Department of Justice on Internet Fraud.