To avoid jail, you have to pay immediately through an untraceable method like a gift card.
This is just one of many digital-age scams, but fraud was rampant even before the internet. By knowing how scammers use modern technology to swipe money from victims — and the low-tech origins of those scams — you can keep your money safe and working how you want it to. The granddaddy of internet scams is the Nigerian prince scam. Although perpetrators may claim to be from other parts of the world, Nigeria is a common location named in this scam.
Although the Nigerian prince scam has evolved, in its basic form, it involves a supposed member of a royal family or someone in an important position who needs to move money out of the country. Another popular variation involves con artists posing as attorneys or bankers with recently deceased clients. They ask you to pose as a relative, promising to help you get the money as an inheritance. is the current favorite medium, but scammers have also used fax, regular mail and Telex before electronic communication became ubiquitous.
Victims were promised riches if they helped get him out by bribing officials or providing money for a variety of other made-up reasons. Craigslist is a great place to buy and sell used items, but scammers have swooped in to trick sellers with a fake check scam that involves making an overpayment. Meanwhile, the buyer disappears once the fraud is complete.
Scammers often sell nonexistent cars through online classified and bring in a trusted name like eBay to make the transaction seem legitimate.
How often do people get catfished in your state?
They might claim to be overseas or on a military base and say that eBay Motors will handle the transaction. In reality, eBay only assists with transactions originating on its website. The con artist sends forged s with the eBay logo asking you to wire payment for the car. They promise the funds will be held in escrow until you receive the vehicle. While online scammers deal in nonexistent cars, car sales fraud has a long history. One common scam that predates the digital age is known as yo-yo financing. You complete paperwork to finance your car and proudly drive it home, but the dealer calls a few days later and claims the financing fell through.
You might be thrilled to apply to a major company and get an almost immediate response asking you for an interview.
Study: nevada tops list for highest rate of ‘catfishing’ or romance scams
The check will later bounce, leaving you responsible for the funds you forwarded. The internet makes it easy for scammers to impersonate legitimate businesses, but job scams have been around for as long as con artists have had access to advertising — starting out with newspaper, TV and radio.
Old forms of employment fraud often involved making you pay for recruitment services that never resulted in employment or selling you lists of government jobs that are available for free. The digital age makes this scam easy because con artists use technology to contact a large volume of potential victims without being traced. Utility company scams are nothing new. Even before the internet and VOIP, con artists went door to door, pretending to represent legitimate utility companies and switching unwitting consumers over to a different provider that charges much higher rates. Even today, this scam still goes on.
With computers ubiquitous in American homes, scammers call people randomly under the assumption that most have a PC. At worst, they might install malware or steal your bank s or other financial details. In another form of this scam, a fake virus warning pops up on your computer screen.
It often looks like a real Windows warning and directs you to call a for immediate assistance. The le right to a scam call center. Computer-related scams have been around ever since the first monochrome-screened machines made their way into homes. Even before the internet, people were at risk for scams if they brought their computers to unscrupulous repair shops. Common scams included installing und software and charging full price for it, stealing parts from the computer and replacing them with inferior parts or lying about the extent of the needed repair.
This can still happen today, so choose a repair shop with care. These rental con artists claim to be out of town and ask you to wire the money. In reality, the ad is fake and they have nothing to do with the property. Before Craigslist and other online rental search sites, con artists advertised rentals through low-tech methods like newspaper classified or s in an apartment window. In some cases, they might rent the apartment themselves to use as a prop in their scams.
In it for love or money: relationship scams
Either way, they would show the unit to interested parties, collect rent and a security deposit, then disappear. Online dating makes it easier for lonely hearts to link up with potential partners, but it also gives con artists a direct line to vulnerable victims.
They string lonely women and men along, claiming to be madly in love and sending texts and s describing an idyllic future together. Once their victims are hooked, the scammers ask for money for a variety of phony reasons. In the days before dating sites, and continuing through today, men and women from other countries would seek marriage partners in the United States in order to get around immigration laws. Sometimes scammers would pretend to be in love with a U. Sometimes the citizen would be in on the scam.
Either way, the desired result was the same: to appear as a happily married couple in the eyes of the United States government. Citizenship and Immigration Services discovered in a bust.
One recent example is a Ponzi scheme that goes by a few different names, like the Airplane Game or the Blessing Loom. This classic pyramid scheme gets people on the bottom to pay money to a person at the top through a payment app.
16 digital scams and the classic cons that inspired them
They hope to reach the top themselves, but the scheme is unsustainable, even when you dress it up with a cute name and fancy graphics. This type of financial scam spre rapidly due to the ease of online sharing and the desire of participants to get others involved so they can get their own payoff.
Online pyramid schemes are simply the evolution of versions passed along in person or through postal mail. Back then, payments were made in cash rather than through payment apps, but the chance of coming out ahead was still minuscule. Participants then and now are at risk of fines or jail time, since many states consider this type of exchange to be illegal.
Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe make it easy to find and donate to good causes. Many get out and pound the pavement, asking people for money on the streets.
This is where you’re most likely to be catfished in the usa in
Big cities like New York have solicitors who impersonate Buddhist monks and hit up pedestrians for donations. Businesses like gas stations often attract scammers claiming to need money for gas or bus fare or to feed a starving. Some of these con artists moved online, but some still ply their time-honored trade with in-person pleas.
They might offer a cash prize or some other enticement, like a luxurious trip. All you have to do is pay some miscellaneous fees. Scammers know that you can do an online search to see if the lottery is real. They try to head that off by using the names of legitimate foreign lotteries and companies with name recognition, like Publishers Clearing House. Lottery scams are about as old as the game itself.
One offline scam involves con artists who try to convince a person that they have a winning lottery ticket but cannot cash it because of being in the country illegally. The scammers often target senior citizens and claim to need money in order to get the prize. They offer to split the winnings if the potential victim will pay the supposed fee. Data breaches expose addresses and passwords to con artists who use them to scam victims with tactics like sextortion.
One common iteration of this scam involves an in which the scammer claims to have hacked your computer, providing an old password as proof. Supposedly the scammer activated your webcam and got footage of you in a compromising position. The password was actually purchased as part of a list on the black market, and no one has access to your computer.
But this scam often scares victims into paying to avoid embarrassment. The con artists might demand bitcoin, making them difficult to trace. Hamilton had an affair with the woman, and her husband blackmailed Hamilton for hush money. Scammers eventually turned to sending blackmail letters by postal mail before became a thing.
Ironically, some still approach their victims with letters but add a modern touch by asking for payment in bitcoin. Fortunately, the internet puts hour service at your fingertips. The scammers on the phone quote a low estimate, but the person they send out inflates that figure.
These con artists offer repairs at a cheap rate, but they either do a substandard job or disappear with your money without doing a lick of work.
In a related scam, traveling crews make the rounds in spring, going across the country to offer repairs, then absconding with the funds. Unfortunately, many people do, sending funds to con artists on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and hoping for a quick profit. Of course, they never see a penny in return. Social media scammers are smart, making their posts look genuine and peppering the comments with fake testimonials. Social media money flip scammers are following in the footsteps of Charles Ponzi, an early financial con artist whose fraud was so successful that his name is forever attached to this type of scheme.
In the s, he promised investors huge returns in a postal stamp speculation scam. People showered him with money, but the promised returns never materialized. Other scammers ran similar schemes, paying off early investors with money from those who ed up later in order to get good recommendations. The pyramid always collapsed, leaving most investors empty-handed. Being an Instagram influencer seems like a dream gig. But shady companies are pulling a scam on inexperienced Instagram users by tricking them into buying products under the guise of giving them a discount in exchange for promotion.
The products are really overpriced, and the supposed company representatives are con artists.