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Top 5 Scams to Watch Out For
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Student Contributor
Posted February 11, 2016
Nigerian Payment Scam
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If you ever receive an email with a subject line of “Request for Urgent Business Relationship”, it probably isn’t real. This scam revolves around individuals claiming to be wealthy foreigners who need your assistance moving millions of dollars to their home countries. If you help them, they promise a fortune as a reward. It lures those involved into a money transfer of thousands of dollars. After it is sent, you’ll be waiting for your fortune and the return of your money for the rest of your life.

Foreign Lottery Scam
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It is exactly what it sounds like; an announcement that you have won a large sum of money from a foreign lottery. Subject lines often include “AWARD NOTIFICATION” and push a sense of urgency to claim your millions before the deadline approaches. It is important to remember that you can never win a lottery you don’t play, and even if you did they would not have your personal information to contact you regarding the winnings.
Secret Shopping Scam
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The secret shopping scam targets those who are in need of a job. It is a fake employment opportunity that promises easy-to-perform activities and high pay. Some secret shoppers are real, where your job is to shop at a wide range of retailers and then rate their experience with the company. The scam draws people in promising they will be paid to shop with short hours and decent pay. Red flags for fake secret shopping postings include lack of background, training, or education requirements and the receiving of large money order checks with instructions to cash and then wire money to a third party. Real jobs will never ask money to be wired and want pay you before any work has been completed.
Work-at-Home Scam
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Similar to the secret shopping scam, the work-at-home scam advertises a dream job of working at home and making money by posting links on the internet. Before beginning the job, the company requires the “employee” pay a two dollar shipping fee for a starter kit using his/her debit or credit card. If someone falls for this, it will soon be realized that making money with links does not include the riches that were promised. The scammers will also begin billing and charging the card used to pay the starter shipping fee for approximately $80 every month. Because the company hides phone numbers and any contact information, it can be difficult to stop the charges from occurring.
Family Member in Distress Scam
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Those involved in this scam often receive a phone call stating a family member is in trouble and in need of money. They state that he/she is either in need of an emergency medical procedure, bail, or stuck in a foreign country. Even the caller sometimes poses as the family member in trouble. If you ever receive a phone call like this, make sure you breathe and take necessary steps to ensure it is real. Ask questions: who is the person calling? How do they know your family member? Can they describe what the family member looks like? If they are calling and claiming to be someone you love, ask them a question only your family member would know.
What should you do if you find yourself in a scam?
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First, it is important to breathe. Finding yourself a victim of a scam is stressful and scary. If you are able to contact the company or person who has scammed you, tell them you would like a refund and that you plan to notify law enforcement officials. Search the fraud information on the Federal Trade Commission website, where they list specific scams and provide step-by-step instructions on what to do if you are involved in one. If a scammer has your bank information or debit/credit card numbers, call your bank immediately to halt all future transactions.
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