Internet Fraud

Non-Delivery of Merchandise
You buy something from an online auction or classified ad website. Despite repeated requests, you never receive your item. Non-delivery of merchandise has consistently ranked as one of the top five reported scams on the Internet. You can lower the risk of becoming a victim by dealing only with reputable sellers who have reliable customer feedback. Get the seller’s name and contact information before you send money. Use the Internet to “check out” the seller and his business. Be extremely cautious when dealing with sellers located outside the United States. And, if the seller insists that you wire money for the purchase, don’t do it.

Nigerian Money Offers
You receive an e-mail notifying you that help is needed to move millions of dollars out of a foreign country. You’re asked to provide your bank account number so the money can be transferred into your account. In exchange for your help, you’ll receive a small percentage of the money. In actuality, the scammer is after your bank account number and will use it to drain your account. NEVER give out your personal information over the Internet UNLESS you initiate the contact and you trust the person or entity that you’re dealing with. If someone else contacts you and asks you to send them your personal information, don’t do it – no matter how official the e-mail or supporting documents look, and no matter how enticing the offer.

Work-At-Home Scams
You receive an e-mail (or you see an ad in the newspaper or find a business card in a public place) that describes an opportunity to make a lot of money while working from home. All you have to do is pay a fee for supplies, training or other start-up costs. If the opportunity involves “envelope stuffing,” you won’t make any money unless you recruit new victims like yourself, in which case you and original perpetrator may face criminal prosecution. If the opportunity involves assembling crafts or other products, you won’t make any money because the company will tell you that your work is “sub-standard.” Unfortunately, your work will never be good enough to get paid. If the opportunity involves processing rebates, billing claims or conducting online searches, you won’t receive any money because there were no legitimate rebates or bills to process, there were no Internet searches to conduct, and the materials and training that you paid for are completely useless. Some of these scams are perpetrated for the sole purpose of getting you to disclose your personal information, typically your bank or credit card account number, which the scam artist will use to steal from you. A work-at-home opportunity that requires an up-front payment is almost always a scam.

Investment Scams
You receive an e-mail promoting an investment opportunity. You’re told that the investment will yield high returns at little or no risk. The promoter will send you impressive, but phony statistics, or claim to have inside information, or he’ll misrepresent the details of the investment or claim that it is a “one-time, unique offer”, or he’ll “guarantee” your investment or even buy it back if you’re not completely satisfied. The promoter will almost always rush you into a decision and insist that you send money now. No matter how good the opportunity sounds or how fancy the e-mail looks, do not respond; just delete the e-mail. If you wire investment money in response to an unsolicited e-mail, it will probably be lost forever.

In addition to these schemes, con artists use a variety of techniques to steal your personal information. To read more about how criminals use technology to commit Identity Theft, please visit our Identity Theft webpage.

➟ Prevention & Internet Safety