Like the rest of us, scammers are making good use of the Internet to conduct their affairs. Internet scams have increased in number and sophistication. Even savvy and experienced Internet users can get taken. These scams aren’t necessarily aimed specifically at seniors, but seniors often become the victims because they have significant financial resources and tend to be more trusting.
Here are some common Internet scams.
1. Fake check. An email comes in promising a lucrative salary in return for relatively little work. You might even receive an “advance”, in the form of a (bogus) cashier’s check. All you have to do to get started is to send some money to a certain address. The offer appears legitimate, and may even use the name and logos of a well-known business or charity organization.
This news report gives one man’s story.
2. Fake job offer. A common variation of the previous scam is an email offering a job at a well-known company or organization. All you have to do is fill out an online form with some information. The offer of course is bogus, and is created by the scammer in order to gain information from you for identity theft.
3. Fake charity solicitation. Shortly after a well-publicized disaster, fake emails are sent with the name and logos of the Red Cross or other well-known relief or charity organization, asking urgently for donations. Of course, the email is actually from the scammer and is an attempt to steal your personal information and credit card or bank account number.
4. Nigerian scam. You probably have experienced this. You receive an email from a “wealthy” person overseas who needs your help transferring a large sum of money. You are promised a substantial cut of their business or fortune; all you have to do is send a small amount to cover some “fees”. The more you send, the more they ask for. You never get a share of the fortune, because there is none.
5. Phishing emails. You may also have received these emails. You get an official-looking email from a bank, credit card provider, or your Internet service provider, stating that you must verify some information or risk losing your service.
6. Overpayment scam. This relates to an expensive item you may have listed for sale such as a car or boat. A scammer sends you an email offering much more than the asking price. The email says the extra is to cover shipping fees to send the item overseas. The scammer sends you a cashier’s check and asks you to send the item and the price difference. It turns out the check is either a forgery or a genuine check but not authorized by the bank. Your bank demands you to make up the amount from your own funds. You have now lost both the item and the amount of the bogus check.
7. Fake money-making opportunity. This is a common scheme by unscrupulous Internet marketers. You may receive emails promising quick online riches for doing relatively little work. All you have to do is send some money or purchase an ebook or online course. The course turns out to be either nonexistent, or grossly overpriced. Or after purchasing it you are told you have to buy much more expensive items to go along with it.
8. Relative in trouble. You receive an email from a relative (or grandchild) begging you to send them money, as they are stranded or in trouble. This scam may also be conducted over the phone – you might get a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild. They may be crying. They may beg you to just send them the money and not contact their parents. This ploy can be effective as many grandparents will go to great lengths to help out their grandchildren.
If you receive an email or call you’re not sure about, check it out before taking any action. The scammers are well-practiced and know how many people think and feel. Don’t let anyone pressure you into taking rash action. Visit this page for more tips for avoiding Internet fraud.