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The 16 Most Common Scams

To safeguard yourself from becoming a victim of fraud, look out for the following warning phrases, keywords and actions that are most commonly used as lures.

  • "Act Now" Schemes

    Tele / Email Marketing Fraud

    You may receive calls or emails with “exciting offers”, for the “lucky winners”, “for a limited time period only”. The caller or emailer will urge you to “act immediately” to take benefit of this “once in a lifetime offer”. All you need to do is wire the required amount.

    Internet Auction Fraud

    With increased online activity, antique items and great deals for all kinds of merchandise are now available at a click, especially through online auctions. All the seller wants is a “down payment through money transfer”, to “save on sales tax”. You even get a receipt confirming the transaction and sale.

    Inheritance Fraud

    Someone who has no relatives has died and you can “receive a huge inheritance” because you “share the surname”. A “lawyer” sends you an email or a letter saying he could give the money to you and all you need to do is split the money between him and you. All you have to pay are some taxes, legal fees, banking fees etc.

    Phishing / Vishing / Smishing Scams

    You may receive emails, calls or sms's pretending to be from "your bank", "credit card service" or other financial institutions regarding a server upgrade, account update, or pending transaction. They ask you to "update" your account and identity details.

  • "Grow your Money" Schemes

    Employment Fraud

    An "exciting opportunity" to work for a "multinational company" may come across your desk. You may apply, go through interviews and even receive an offer letter. But to get employed "all you have to do is" send a processing fee, which will be returned as soon as you join.

    Investment Fraud - Ponzi / Pyramid Schemes

    All you need is an “initial investment”, and in return you are promised “high financial returns or dividends”. Sometimes you may even be encouraged to “recruit more investors” for “extra profit”. You might even get a few initial dividends to build your confidence!

    Nigerian Letter or "419" Fraud

    A self-proclaimed “government official” is trying to transfer illegally out of Nigeria. He offers you the “opportunity” to get a share of the millions of dollars he has if you help him. But you need to send him your letterhead stationery, bank name, account numbers and other identity information using a fax number or email ID provided in the letter.

    Work at Home Scams

    "Become your own boss!" "Become a secret shopper." Sounds like a dream come true. You will receive a cashier’s cheque, "which you can cash, keep some for yourself and wire the remaining amount back to another person".

  • "Help me / Help them" Schemes

    Help me Scams

    You may suddenly receive an email or a call from any unknown person saying that a relative or friend of yours residing in some country far away has taken ill, met with an accident, or has been arrested and put into jail. They need money urgently to get out of that situation!

    Disaster Relief Fraud

    Like the ill or jailed relative, you may receive calls or emails asking you to contribute to a disaster relief campaign, or donate money in aid of victims by transferring money directly to the organizations account. “It would be your good deed for the day!”

    Friendship / Online Dating Scams

    You receive a Facebook friend request from a "common friend" or a "fan" of your Twitter page wants to connect with you. It seems harmless and suddenly he/ she becomes your friend and starts interacting with you on a daily basis. In conversation, this person narrates his/her problems to you and convinces you to send money to him or her.

    Sponsor Medical Treatment

    Sometimes, email and email forwards will highlight a person’s medical condition and encourage you to contribute towards the treatment of that individual. You could “wire even 1 USD” to an account created especially for this purpose.

  • "Advance Payment" Schemes

    Advance Fee Schemes Fraud

    A loan, additional bonds, an attractive gift, doubling of the value of money contracts or investments - "all you need to do is pay an advance fee" for processing and all of the above "could be yours"!

    Rental Scams

    There is an advertisement for a place to rent for, and that too for a very low price. But the "landlord" says they are out of the country on business or missionary work. But you can "wire them the first and last month’s rent” and the "flat could be yours".

    The Fake Loan Scam

    You receive an email or a letter from a fake loan company, offering to loan you money. All you need to do is send them money through a "wire transfer to pay for loan fees", taxes, service fees, or advance payments.

    After submitting a loan application, you are asked to wire processing payments to the lender and promised that the "loan will be processed shortly".

    The Extra Payment Scam

    Someone sends you a cheque or money order for something you are selling or as an advance for your services but the amount is more than it should be. All you need to do is wire the extra amount back to them.