18 Scams Everyone Should Be Aware Of

December 8, 2015 | 7 Comments » | Topics: Answers, TRUTH

1. eBay scammers.

When you sell something like an iPhone, computer tablet, etc. (anything worth a pretty penny), you will occasionally get a really high bid at the end of your auction. You’ll then receive a follow up email that appears to be a payment confirmation from eBay/PayPal.

Never accept a payment email at face value. Always log into your PayPal account to verify you have received payment. What is happening is a scammer has created a new eBay account, usually only a couple of weeks old with little to no buying or selling history, and is placing high bids on valuable items. After they win, they immediately spend a fake payment email that looks legit (and is sometimes even more than the winning bid), but is carefully worded to say, "Payment will appear in your PayPal account after shipping tracking information has been confirmed." They are hoping that people will see the fake payment email and will ship their valuables unquestioningly. Do not send anything until you have logged into your account and can confirm the money has indeed been transferred.

These types of scammers will often request you send your items very quickly (birthday present, anniversary gift, etc.) to a different address from the one listed on their eBay account page. This is known as a Proxy Address. A proxy address is used by scammers who don’t want to be traced directly; they will hire someone to accept packages and then redirect it to them after receiving them. Often times, the proxy shipper has no idea who his/her clients are or what he/she is sending.

If this happens to you on eBay, report the user and repost the listing immediately. Make sure to also contact eBay so that they do not charge you a listing fee twice for the failed auction.

 

 

2. Check Cashing Scam

My friend got conned out of $2300 over a craigslist "job offer". She was looking through craigslist job offers and came across one for data entry. The company was based out of Flordia but was opening a branch here. After some email correspondence, she was interviewed over the phone and told she got the job. She was given a spot in the data entry department but would be working from home for 1 month before they got an office.

She was sent a check in the mail for $2300 and some change and told her to deposit it in her bank account to buy some software. She said the lady on the phone was urgent and a little mean and she almost decided to turn it down. My friend needed a job badly so she endured and did what her new boss wanted.

3 days after buying the software, the check is declared a fraud and my friend can not get a hold of anyone she had talked to.

The Scam: 

Someone you never met gives you a check, asks you to buy or sell something (taken from this money), and often, wire the remainder, if any, back to them. Invariably, the check is a fraud, the bank reverses the funds, and you’re out whatever money left your hands.

What I don’t understand that anyone still falls for this. People get really dumb on the Internet. Once a computer’s involved, all logic and reason goes out of the window. Imagine if someone came to your house to buy a used car you’re selling for $1000. Imagine that they give you $3000 in cash and tell you to take the $1000 out of it, and mail them the $2000 back later. Then they leave.

This behavior is clearly insane. They just met you and don’t know anything about you. You would identify their behavior as very strange and irrational. Why would they trust you to mail back their $2000? Yet this exact situation plays out all the time on Craigslist.

And, because of the above, and because craigslist has seen so many people fall for the same scam over and over, it’s always very clearly defined right after you click on the "jobs" link, in the craigslist SCAM ALERT. Everything’s laid out in easy-to-read text. You have to click the link that you read the alert before you can even continue (yes, it’s just as liable to be ignored as a software EULA or error dialog. Still, it’s there.).

So while it really sucks for your friend, I simply cannot feel sympathy for anyone who this happens to anymore. There comes a time when, you can warn people all you want with yells and signs and reasoning, but they’ll still jump off the cliff, and they have to take responsibility for it.

Checks are certainly obsolete and a barbaric way to exchange money, but it’s a technology that’s been with us a long time, so we should understand the risks and know how to mitigate them. At minimum, she should have cashed the check, and waited for a few days for the check to clear, before doing anything. Also, an aware bank teller could have probably prevented this.

 

 

3. Friendly Girls scam in Europe, especially eastern Europe and especially Budapest.

Two or more women approach you asking for directions or offering directions. They aren’t super-models, but they are reasonably attractive and seem nice and normal. They end up recommending a specific restaurant/bar/nightclub/whatever. You go with them. You have some drinks, maybe some food. Then the bill arrives and it’s almost as much as your round-trip airfare. A large gentleman is there to "help you pay up". The girls act oblivious – this place sure is expensive! Gosh!

If you can’t come up with the cash, you will be "assisted" to an ATM to get the cash. If you refuse, the police will be called. Don’t expect them to help. They’re in on it. They will shrug and explain you must pay the bill.

Guys: if some strange women approach you in a busy city center and beckon you to go to a specific place, DON’T. Either beg off or insist on taking them to a place of YOUR choosing. Try buying them some ice cream and see how they act. That should tell you all you need to know.

 

 

4. Collector Coin Commercials.

These things are straight up preying on elderly and senile viewers. "Avoid disappointment and future regret" watch for that phrase. Its in almost all of them. And then theyll reference how gold prices are soaring while its completely irrelevant to the purchase. Its so terrible to think of the amount of money people pour into these things, thinking theyll be leaving something behind for their grandkids college fund or whatever. That shit is infuriating.

 

 

5. Facebook questionnaires trick people into revealing common security answers

Yeah, your "pronstar name" that’s your mother’s maiden name, the name of your first pet and the street you grew up on and similar shit.

 

 

6. The Kidnapping Routine

My dad had a scam a while ago from some people claiming to have kidnapped my grandparents in Puerto Rico because they had called the cops on one of their gang buddies. He had to stay on the line or else they’d allegedly shoot them, but they wouldn’t let him talk to them because they said they had knocked them out.

My mother couldn’t get a hold of them because they were at church and don’t take their phones with them. My mother called his siblings who said it was a pretty common scam over there where they call peoples children who live on the mainland since they probably have more money.

Apparently they had called someone asking for my uncle’s number claiming they wanted to ask him something about his work, then they called my uncle claiming to be a college friend of my dad who didn’t have his number, so he gave it to them. Then they called my dad and pulled the kidnapping thing.

 

 

7. Timeshares

A timeshare is usually some sort of holiday home somewhere and the company will sell timeshares to people so that they ‘own’ a portion of the property and therefore can arrange to use it for a holiday within certain really really suckey small print terms and conditions, it’s like 30 or 40 people own a share in one holiday villa just say in spain – and they are all locked into some contract that means they gotta pay year after year just to be able to spend a week or 2 in a villa – of course the people running the timeshare operation have made far more money off the property than they would just straight off selling it, and they got a bunch of poor schmucks tied into often bonkers contracts with no way to get out of them.

So the timeshare companies need to get customers, and they have to play hard ball, I used to telephone people from a list (the list was strips cut out of the telephone directory, not entirely legal!) and tried to get people to go to some country house health spa for a ‘free’ weekend, any fool who went would just get blasted with constant constant sales pitch, like full on psychological tactics that cults would use in their initiation – no joke it’s that full on, that’s why they wanted them there for a full weekend, they get them pumped up and then they sign away the inheritance.

So the timeshare ‘front’ part would be the initial carrot that gets the schmucks into the line of fire for the sales pitch, in this case some bullshit chance to win a car, but they do come in all sorts of ‘scams’ when we were on the telephone we were sorta upfront the the people we cold called, in a way, we did say it was a timeshare event (maybe we worded it different can’t remember) but you got pretty slick at getting past that sticking point and onto the bullshit speal, I was pretty good at painting mental pictures to retired people of some ideallic country house health spa (never been didn’t even see pictures of it!) and how they would get the weekend for free all they had to do was attend the timeshare seminar…. dun dun dunnnnn! that seminar was basically an entire weekend of super serious sales tactics and basically you were screwed, couples litterally split up after these things because one of them gets brainwashed and the other is strong minded.

 

 

8. "Multi-level marketing."

Here’s the thing: if you put time and effort into actually selling the product (Jamberry Nails, Herbalife, whatever), you’re not going to make any money. You’ll have invested a ton of time and energy into something where you’ll end up making less than minimum wage most times.

You can make money in multi-level marketing strategies (read: scams), but the only way you’ll ever make money is to grow the pyramid — and that means recruiting people under you.

The product is simply a smoke screen as well as a legal technicality so they aren’t considered an illegal pyramid scheme. It doesn’t matter if it’s vinyl nails, health products, or rancid cucumbers, the "real" product is a pyramid-shaped hierarchy of "sales associates" (or whatever they choose to call you) who simply take a percentage of the sales and recruitment bonuses from all the levels below them. The more levels below you, the more money you make.

If you’re still selling the product at any point in time, here’s a hint: you’re near the bottom of the pyramid, giving a large percentage of your profits to the people above you.

 



 

9. IRS Tax Scam

I work at a bank. I had a girl in tears at my desk, trying to pull 2k out of her college savings account because someone on the phone said they were from the IRS and if she didn’t pay them they would send someone to come arrest her.

She was in class when she recieved the call. They told her to leave class and immediatley go to a bank, because she owed them thousands and it was the last straw. Poor girl believed her. They also told her if she hung up they would send an officer to arrest her. They also told her not to tell anybody.

She almost got out of the bank with the cash. Teller realised something was up and sat her down with me. I had to pull up some news articles concerning the scam before she believed me that it was ok to hang up on this guy.

  1. The IRS will mail you a letter if there really is an issue, you will not be called, texted or emailed.

  2. A phone call from the IRS will not sound like an Indian guy in a call center.

  3. If you get that call, just go to this site for more details about the scam and how to report it:

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Warns-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam

 

 

10. Front Desk Scam

If you are staying in a hotel and someone calls your room saying they are from the front desk or room service or whatever and need to confirm your personal details or credit card info it is a scam. Hang up and either call or go down to the front desk yourself. People sometimes call hotels and ask to be connected to rooms and if the hotel doesn’t screen calls properly can impersonate hotel staff. They may even have your name if they scammed it out of the hotel. They do this by calling room service, saying they are from the front desk and asking for the names and room numbers of the last 5 orders for bookkeeping or follow up or something. If employees are new or stupid enough to give out this info, then it can really sound like a hotel employee calling you.

 

 

11. Rent To Own

I have an employee who is still paying off a PS3 that was stolen from him three YEARS ago and still has like $300 left on it. He has paid well over $2000 on it already.

I went into one of those stores once just out of curiosity once. I needed a new computer monitor. They had one for $24 a week. I thought thats not that bad. Ill have the full balance paid off in two months. Except that the payments were not until the full retail value of the monitor is paid off or a bit above that. It would be for like 3 years. So when it was all said and done it would of cost me almost $3500 for a $200~ computer monitor. After hearing a whole speech about how ‘convenient’ it was I came to the conclusion it was just a huge scam and walked out never to return.

 

 

12. Las Vegas Taxi Scam

If you are ever going to Las Vegas, and taking a taxi from the airport you need to know about the tunnel scam.

Cab drivers scam unsuspecting tourists out of money by taking "the tunnel" which is a longer way to get to every single place on the strip. It’s called "long hauling" and it is absolutely widespread. There have been tons of initiatives to stop it, but it absolutely persists.

Tell the taxi driver "no tunnel" when you get in a taxi at the Las Vegas Airport. They might get upset that you are "accusing" them of long hauling you, but it’s the only way to make sure they don’t do this. Seriously, I’d say the majority of cab drivers in Vegas do this scam.

 

 

13. Debt Of A Deceased Family Member

When a family member dies, credit companies will oftentimes come to the survivors to try and collect on debts owed by the person who died.

From my understanding, there is no legal obligation for the survivors to pay these, however, credit companies know this and try anyways.

 

 

14. McDojos

60% of martial arts schools teach a lot of weak/unrealistic material or have under qualified instructors etc. If you plan on taking up martial arts, do a lot of reading up on it, the average person I’ve found is incredibly misinformed

 

 

15. Penny Auction Sites

You’re not bidding for the item, you’re bidding for the bid for the item. I haven’t actually been involved but from people’s stories, it seems that a penny bid is a 10-cent bid on an item. So, if you’ve bid 50 times on an item that a few other people are bidding on, you’re not gonna pay 50 cents. You’re gonna pay the total number of bids multiplied by 10 cents. Someone apparently ended up paying more than $1000 on an iPad because of this scam.

 

 

16. For-Profit Colleges

Well, it took a year of going there, but I finally realized that ITT Tech is a scam. I was working for my father at the time (as an electrician for his company) and all was well. Turned out, work slowed down- and he didn’t want to have to lay me off. He gave me the opportunity to go back to school, but the only "school" that was taking classes at the time was ITT. They had me take placement tests, fill out paperwork, work on tax information, and then they finally told me the price. It’s about $6500 a "semester." You have to complete 8 semesters in 2 years, roughly coming out to $52000. Comparatively, my friend graduated from Ferris State University this year, didn’t work his whole collegiate career, lived on student loans (even paid for his car with some of his loans), and ended up spending about $85000. Difference is, he has a 4 year degree, and ITT would only leave you with aworthless piece of paper that has no degree value.

The classes are complete bullshit. If you show up and have a brain you will pass. That doesn’t sound bad, but after I talked to an actual student who graduated, he told me he was not prepared AT ALL for the job they got him.

Which leads me to my next point. ITT prides itself on their help with finding jobs upon graduation. They are not lying, you actually pay for a whole class ($2200) all centered around resume building and actually finding a job. If i pay someone $2200 to find me a job, and they don’t, I would surely ask for my money back. That’s when my buddy who graduated explained, "After the first job that they get you, you’re pretty much on your own." This scared me. I finally realized that maybe I shouldn’t be pumping so much money into a program that would not end up helping me.

I guess this is more a warning, hopefully it benefits one person who is debating going to this school. I’m lucky I had a good job and rich parents to bail myself out of the debt it was driving me into. If your parents make any sort of money, the loans you receive will immediately start incurring debt. My personal loans were at 13%, which I thought was outrageous, but no other loan company (including banks) will loan you any money for this school. It’s only federal and Sallie Mae.

1st semester: $6500 x 13% = $845. Compound that, do it again for the next semester. I’m not that good at math or I’d do it all, but I think you get the idea. 2 years @ 13% is NOT good. Not good at all.

They also talk about how flexible their scheduling is. Yes they have morning and night classes, but what college doesn’t? I’m now attending a community college and paying about $1000 for in county tuition and that includes books. I work 40 hours a week and attend class from 6-9pm 4 times a week.

 


17. Rule Of Thumb: If It Involves Western Union, It’s Probably A Scam

 

 

18. Clever Scam Taking Advantage Of Men

A ‘heads up’ for those men who may be regular Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Costco customers. This one caught me by surprise.

Over the last month I became a victim of a clever scam while out shopping. Simply going out to get supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don’t be naive enough to think it couldn’t happen to you or your friends.

Here’s how the scam works: Two seriously good-looking 20-something girls come over to your car as you are packing your shopping into the trunk. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look. When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say ‘No’ and instead ask you for a ride to McDonalds..

You agree and they get into the back seat. On the way, they start undressing. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and starts crawling all over you, while the other one steals your wallet. I had my wallet stolen November 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, 24th, & 29th. Also December 1st & 4th, twice on the 8th, 16th, 23rd, 26th & 28th, three times last Monday and very likely again this upcoming weekend.

 

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  • odot

    I gotta head over to Lowe’s and Home Depot to make sure I report this after doing some long, internal, detailed hands on investigation on the last scam

  • Max Blancke

    About the ebay thing- When I am selling, I have a separate account for paypal deposits. I only ship the item after I take the cash out of that account, and deposit it in a different bank. Also, I make it clear to the buyer that there will be no refunds, and no shipping until the cash is in my hands. Sometimes they try to get me to ship to China, but insurance does not cover that. When they try to use a remailer, google street view and a little research can get the name and the number of the remailer, and I usually call them and ask about the buyer. Once I have that info, I send the buyer an email that says something like “I will mail the item, insured for full value, to XYZ remailer, who will forward it to you in Eggroll city, PRC”. Sometimes the guy will start to claim that the item did not show up, but I always have an image of the signature from the remailing guy, which I can also email to the buyer. I always make it clear that I would rather burn both my ebay and paypal accounts rather than be scammed out of even a dollar. It rarely comes to so much bother, but I have not found a better way. Sadly, you can rarely get any help from Ebay.

  • epobirs

    You know who has a history in multi-level marketing? Anita Sarkeesian. This should have been a clue to more people but con artist gonna con.

  • jay

    I think you need to define what you mean by “scam”. Some of the items listed here I would certainly call scams: people literally robbing you, taking your money and giving you absolutely nothing in return, But others are more like “someone is selling a product that I don’t think is worth the cost”.
    Take the timeshare example. My parents bought into a number of timeshares. They’d get a week every year at a nice hotel for a fairly low rate. Yes, the downside is that you are committed to spend a week at that hotel every year. They joined timeshare swapping clubs so they could trade their week at hotel X for somebody else’s week at hotel Y, so they didn’t really have to go to the same hotel every year. I’d never buy one, and I don’t think it was that great a deal. But they got something for their money, and indeed they got exactly what they were promised for exactly the amount they agreed to pay. It’s not a product I’d want to buy, but I don’t think that makes it a scam. I don’t like cranberries, but I don’t think that makes selling cranberries a scam.

  • jay

    Another scam that a lot of people fall for: These people contact you and ask you for money. They say that this money will go to help the poor, disabled veterans, cancer research, a long list of worthy causes. But in fact only a small percentage goes to these causes. Most of the money goes into the pockets of the people running the scam. The organization pulling this calls itself “the Federal government” or “the IRS”.

  • jay

    What’s the definition of a “for profit college”? Harvard University, for example, certainly makes a profit, and a big one.

  • 20thCenturyVole

    This time. I might even have some money in it…