Types Of Online Scams



Seriously, I’m wondering if I have enough web pages. If there is anything that can be monetized then it’s going to get scammed. If lizard spit were to suddenly develop value and society were to begin exchanging lizard spit tomorrow, someone would be a johnny-on-the-spot and have a fraud ready to go. So now you know why I’m wondering… guess that’s why it’s a good thing that they are virtual.

Fraud and scams are nothing new. In fact, now that the internet is an integral part of our daily lives, online scams have become commonplace. Just as we each are keenly aware (or at least, should be) of threats in our individual neighborhoods, those starting or engaging in online business need to be aware of the various types of online scams that are out there… and… need to be aware of how to detect them and avoid them.


It’s a serious issue, folks! If the FBI publishes a Top Internet Crime Schemes list year after year after year, that my friend, is being focused on an active criminal enterprise. IC3 is an acronym for the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and their internet crime website is I can’t call it a Top Ten because there are eighteen listed. Here are fourteen of them.

Top IC3 Internet Crime Schemes

Auction Fraud. This is the fraudulent misrepresentation or non-delivery of goods in an online auction. Avoid auctions and beware sellers who claim to be in the United States but suddenly, usually at sale time, have to be out of the country Auctionon business. Likewise, stay away from online auctions that require Moneygram, cash through Western Union, or bank wire transfers. Sellers that require shipping that avoids customs or taxes in other countries, or whose credit card address and shipping address do not match. IC3 advises against any online auction involving Romania.

Counterfeit Cashier’s Check. Buyer typically lives in another country and wants to pay by Cashier’s Check. Buyer claims an associate in the United States owes him money and that associate will send the seller a cashier’s check for the amount owed. The amount will be thousands more so the seller is asked to deposit the check and wire the excess amount to the buyer. The buyer then cancels the sale and the seller is conned into also wiring the purchase price to the buyer. Meanwhile, the bank discovers that the check is fraudulent and the seller ends up being responsible for the entire amount of the check (thousands over the selling price, remember?)


Credit Card Fraud. The unauthorized use of credit card/debit card to fraudulently obtain money and/or property is credit card fraud. Credit card numbers and information can be stolen from unsecured websites or they are obtained through Identity Theft schemes.

Debt Elimination. A legal way to dispose of mortgage loans and credit debts is advertised on a website. The responding party needs only send $1500-$2000 along with all the loan information and a special power-of-attorney giving the advertiser authority to handle all of the particulars. The responder not only loses the money above but any other debts incurred. Worst of all, this usually ends up being an Identity Theft scam because the responder provided all of their personal information in responding to the advertisement.

postal carrierParcel Courier Email Scheme. Typically coincides with auction emails between the scammer and a buyer. Uses various national and international parcel providers (DHL, UPS, Fedex, and sometimes the USPS). Emails are exchanged concerning the carrier, where to pick up the auction item, where to wire funds, etc.

Employment/Business Opportunities. Bogus foreign companies recruit U.S. citizens on employment-search websites for work-at-home employment opportunities. Prospective employees are required to provide their personal information, then are hired and told their salary will be coming from a creditor of the company. The rest is similar to the Counterfeit Cashier’s Check scam.

Identity Theft. This involves obtaining another person’s personal information without their knowledge or consent. id theftSome scammers set up websites that impersonate legitimate websites, such as bank web sites, credit card web sites. An email may be sent to the victim stating that their account(s) has been compromised and must follow the link to the bogus website where they enter their personal information as a way of proving they are who they say they are. These schemes/websites are said to be phishing or spoof sites.

Investment Fraud. Involves an offer of fake claims to solicit investments or loans and in return providing fraudulent or counterfeit securities.

Lotteries. Everyone has that kind uncle from Nigeria who is lottery tshirtdying to give away the fortune that he won in a foreign lottery. The scam is that the victim must put up $1500-$5000 to release the moneys. They will often ask for more fees as the scam progresses.

Nigerian Letter or “419”. This scam is named for Section 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code. The victim is threatened with Impersonation Fraud with an advance fee involved. More fees come into play as the scammers attempt to get the victim involved in paying bribes, taxes and legal fees.

Phishing/Spoofing. Involves bogus electronic documents such as web pages and/or emails that are designed to appear phishinglegitimate and direct the victim to a bogus, yet legitimate looking website where the scammers hope the victim will leave his/her personal information.

Ponzi/Pyramid. Investment scams where investors are promised incredibly high profits on their investments. But no investment ever gets made and it will typically collapse on itself.

Spam. Also known as unsolicited bulk email, it is used for
spam_474415financial institution fraud, credit card fraud, and identity theft. Sometimes spam is used to transmit computer viruses. Spammers are usually also involved in the sale of personal information, including credit card information and email lists.

Third Party Receiver of Funds. Typically involves individuals solicited for home-based business by foreign companies usually involved in auctions. They claim they can’t receive their funds and ask the victim to become their receiver of funds from people who have purchases products from the scammer on the internet.

The List Goes On

There are many more types of internet scams in existence. clipboardThis list only covers the top internet crimes that are on the radar of the IC3. The idea is to be aware of them and to take precautions to not get drawn into them in any form or fashion. If you or someone you know has been victim to one of these criminal fraud acts, you can report it if you wish to the IC3 at file a complaint.

If you’re reading this, you are either already involved in an internet business or you are contemplating becoming involved in one. Visit the IC3 web site here. Visit regularly to know what is going on out in the world with regard to internet scams. Be aware. Be safe. Be diligent!

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