I’m quite a crime buff, and in the realm of money, crime definitely abounds! In the coming year, I plan to feature more discussion on scams, identity theft, con games, fraud and the like. My fascination comes from my strong interest in psychology and what makes people tick. Small wonder that my favorite subject in finance is behavioral finance.
I fancy myself as someone who can never be hustled by tricksters as I’ve adopted a bit of a defensive attitude when it comes to slick sounding offers that sound too good to be true. I guess it helps that I’ve seen or heard quite a few scams in my life, through tales of remorseless theft and swindle that my family and friends have gone through. I swore it would never happen to me, and knock on wood, I haven’t been a con artist’s victim. Well….except once…or twice…. Since some scams are subtle, you may not even realize you’ve been a victim, so for some specifics, you need to read on!
Now the best way NOT to be duped is to educate yourself as much as possible on the tricks of the scam trade. I came across this thorough summary of the Top 10 Scams of 2006 by Consumer Affairs, which I thought would be apropos to highlight here.
Watch, listen and weep. Or else thank the Lord you haven’t been hit.
A quick list of the Top 10 Scams of 2006:
- Fake Lottery Scam
Do you think you may have won some kind of lottery? Think again. Here’s a scheme where you are asked to fork out a fee to collect your prize.
- Phishing – Vishing Scams
You won’t believe it but even the most sophisticated high tech guys or “computer nerds” out there have gotten phished. Two from my own family, whom I consider quite sophisticated with ecommerce, online shopping or who actually build software for a living have been phishing victims! That is, they’ve been tricked into entering their personal information through email designed to appear like official messages from trusted sources such as banks, other financial institutions or anyone else they may have done business with. Vishing is a newer form of phishing except in this situation, an email message asks you to contact a toll-free customer service number through which you provide all your highly sensitive information.
- Phony Job Scam
This just sounds like a confusing set up involving fooling someone into thinking they have a new job via an online job site and making them deposit fake checks whose amounts need to be rewired elsewhere. Somehow the victim’s money gets withdrawn in the process. Sounds like it would be hard to pull off but it happens!
- Negative Options Scam
I find it an outrage that this practice is so rampant even among seemingly reputable outfits. I have actually gotten “caught” in some of these offers in the past and have gotten stuck. In fact, a very well known pest control company has tried some variant of this “scam” on me before. Sign up, whether knowingly or unknowingly, but you can never cancel a subscription. Or you need tons of requests in writing to end your subscription. My solution: forego any free offers ever again, and only sign up for services that allow easy cancellation.
- Nigerian 419 Scam
If you’ve received email from a seemingly very powerful and wealthy yet desperate sounding foreign individual asking you to assist with some large money transactions, you’ve just received an invitation to become a Nigerian 419 scam victim. Have a laugh at the strangely worded, exotic sounding tale of woe, then trash it. I keep copies that I receive to elicit some chuckles when I’m bored.
- Pump and Dump Scam
Oh boy. I confess. I recall having fallen for this exact scam earlier this year. Shame on me, for I obstinately believed I knew what I was doing. No… those message board buddies of yours with names like “thebear_is_dead” or “wallstreetpimpster” shouldn’t be considered in your “circle of trust”. If you get unverifiable investment advice anywhere especially on penny stocks, run far, far away.
- Bogus Fuel Saving Devices
These are devices or materials that companies claim will help you save on gas usage. These companies will try to sell you magic pellets, potions, magnets and so forth.
- Grandparents’ Scam
Somebody calls you and pretends they’re your grandkid. Now that is brazen!
- Oprah Ticket Scam
The fraudsters offer tickets and tour packages to Oprah’s show but will require your account information and identification to snag your booking. That wouldn’t work on me…. but it could be another story if they told me I won seats to the American Idol Finale!
- Craigslist Fake Check Scam
Another one of those “deposit a fake check and wire the balance to someone else” schemes.
Though I’m the biggest doubting thomas I know and I believe I’m the farthest from vulnerable I thought anyone was… I’m embarrassed to say that yes, I’ve been had. It’s true: anyone is vulnerable, even if you think you’re smarter than they are. Despite it all, I’m hoping I truly am.
Copyright © 2006 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.