Social Issues

18 Most Common Types of Scams

Scamming is any dishonest scheme.

This post is in continuation of Fraud/Scam Awareness & Prevention which basically tells you:

  • What the terms mean
  • Why they’re so popular
  • Role of the internet
  • Identity theft
  • Most common victims
  • Prevention
  • Common forms of fraud
  • What to do if you’ve experienced a fraud
  • Scam reporting agencies
  • How to protect yourself
  • Know the basics of web safety
  • Scams/frauds we have faced personally
  • Videos on exposing scammers

In case you missed that, make sure you read it as these two are connected. In this post today, I’m listing down 18 common scams which we all must look out for:

1. Job offer scams

  1. Fake vacancies posted on job sites like Glassdoor. When you apply for a post, you get called for interviews. Then they ask for a registration fee. When you pay a fee, they disappear with your money.
  2. Fake vacancies posted. When you apply, you are interviewed and congratulated that you have got the job. Then they give you fake cheques and ask you to get some gift cards from cheque money and give them numbers over the phone. After you do that, the fake cheques bounce back later and you realize they made you use your own money. They disappear.
  3. Job advertised in the newspaper. Called for an interview. When you go there, no office, the person who goes there gets robbed. They even make false websites.
  4. Some frustrated men even use this technique to get women’s phone numbers or to ask personal questions during job interviews.

2. Free prizes/vacations/lottery scam

Someone SMS’s/calls you and says you’ve won (some nonsense)! They say your name was entered in a lucky draw and you have won. When you talk to them, they will first tell you that you have won X amount. Then they make up a story that you have to only pay us a minor X amount of money to be able to claim your full cash.

Everyone likes free stuff, but sometimes things sound just too good to be true. This particular scam usually starts off by notifying you that you’ve won:

  • A vacation to some exotic locale or popular travel destination
  • A reward card or some sort of prize
  • A lottery
  • Cash

The red flag here is that the scammer will ask you to pay a small fee in order to claim the prize, for which you’ll have to share your credit card number. Don’t do it! Victims have been robbed of thousands of dollars.

As with most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Getting a call out of the blue that you’ve just won the lottery is a pretty big stretch. And when someone asks for your credit card information over the phone, that’s as good a sign as any that the whole thing is a sham. After all, how many lotteries have you heard of that give out winnings to people who haven’t bought a ticket?

3. Phone Scams

This scam has been very successful for criminals simply because of how innocuous it seems. The idea is to ask the victim a simple question so that they respond with, “Yes.” The scammer then records the response and uses it to authorize changes on credit cards, bills, and more. This is because many companies today use voice-automated systems for customer service, which scammers then “hack” with the voice recording.

Scammers can also ask to press a button on the phone, which is how they find out if the number is active. The smart thing to do when receiving an unknown phone call is to not respond and not press any buttons on the dial pad. Here are some other questions that these scammers tend to ask:

  • Are you the homeowner?
  • Are you the lady of the house?
  • Do you pay the household phone bill?
  • Do you pay the household bills?

4. Email/MMS/SMS Scams

 

These are extremely popular. Typically they will require you to click on a link. When you do that, it will ask you to log in using Facebook or Google. It will seem like a usual sign in for your FB or Google account but actually it will be fake. As soon as you do, your accounts are hacked and you can’t get back in. Using this technique, scammers not only hack your precious accounts but also ask for money in order to return your accounts.

 

A similar scam happened recently with an Instagram influencer Urooj Fatima and she had a tough time trying to get her Instagram account back. She had to hire someone to get her account back and also pay a heavy price to the hacker.

5. Advance fee scams

Don’t fall for claims that you have won a lottery, prize, or can invest in a great opportunity, if you have to pay a small fee in advance.

Here are some tips for avoiding advance fee scams 

6. Flight & travel Scams

They replicate websites, use unsafe payment modes, mislead clients, lie to be a part of a well-reputed organization. The reputed travel agency successfully books a flight ticket for the person who claims to be booking a ticket for a relative or a friend ensuring all the travel documents are being provided. At the time of payment, bank transfer into the company account has been made by the concerned client and irony is, a ticket is being issued in the name of some other person.

How would you know you have been caught into the trouble? Before you depart, the forged website has been disappeared, numbers have been closed permanently and you’d find yourself chasing the reputed travel agency that had issued a ticket for someone else against your payment. It is said that Zimbabweans are the most targeted for this type of scam.

7. Land investment scams/Landbanking scam

  • A company will buy a large plot of land, often cheap agricultural land that cannot currently be built on, then divide it up into lots of smaller plots to sell to ‘investors’. Cold-calling people and using hard-sell techniques, blatantly lie and say the land has already received planning permission when it hasn’t and is never likely to. The small strips of land are usually sold for reasonable-sounding amounts of between £10,000 and £20,000. In reality, they are often worth a tiny fraction of that. Typical victims tend to be busy 40-plus professionals who are quite trusting of plausible-sounding investment companies. They don’t have the time to do all the necessary background checks and take things at face value. Once the investor has fallen for the spiel and paid the deposit, the closer will then ratchet up the sales pressure and become aggressive if the investor doesn’t respond to time-limited ‘bargain deals’ requiring further investment. When planning permission isn’t granted – if it has ever been applied for – investors are left with virtually worthless plots of land and no way of getting their money back.
  • Someone bought a plot in Islamabad in some society. Paid half the money for it. Found out it was all a fraud. They lost half the money for it. Their case is in the courts of Pakistan now and taking years without a hope for resolution.
  • There have been incidents where someone invested in cattle farm business around Karachi Pakistan and the scammer took 2 lac in the deal.

8. Fake checks

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know that counterfeit check scams are on the rise. Some fake checks look so real that bank tellers are reporting being fooled. The scammers use high-quality printers and scanners to make the checks look real. Some of the checks contain authentic-looking watermarks.

These counterfeit checks are printed with the names and addresses of legitimate financial institutions. And even though the bank and account and routing numbers listed on a counterfeit check may be real, the check still can be a fake. These fakes come in many forms, from cashier’s checks and money orders to corporate and personal checks. Could you be a victim? Not if you know how to recognize and report them. Here’s what the FTC states about fake checks

  • Resist any pressure to “act now.” If the buyer’s offer is good now, it should be good after the check clears.
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank, or a bank with a local branch. That way, you can make a personal visit to make sure the check is valid. If that’s not possible, call the bank where the check was purchased, and ask if it is valid. Get the bank’s phone number from directory assistance or an Internet site that you know and trust, not from the check or from the person who gave you the check.

9. Refund scams

  • You get an MMS or email stating that you accidentally paid extra to your mobile network provider/bank and you are to be given a refund through the link below. When you click on the link, its a virus. If it asks you to sign in, your account is immediately hacked too.
  • It includes returning goods which are ineligible for a refund for cash. They may have been acquired illegally or they may be damaged.

10. Tech Support Scams

Some scammers call and claim to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple. Other scammers send pop-up messages that warn about computer problems. They say they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer. They claim to be “tech support” and will ask you to give them remote access to your computer. Eventually, they’ll diagnose a non-existent problem and ask you to pay for unnecessary – or even harmful – services.

If you get an unexpected pop-up, call, spam email or other urgent messages about problems with your computer, stop. Don’t click on any links, don’t give control of your computer and don’t send any money. Anyone who gets these types of calls should hang up immediately and file a complaint with the FTC. – Don’t be tricked by Free security scan messages on your computer screen that claim that your machine is already infected with a virus. The realistic, but phony, security alerts exploit your fear of online viruses and security threats.

11. Loan scams

You apply for a loan online. The website is fake. They call you that your application has been approved. You are required to pay a one-off admin fee to get the loan. Once you pay the fees, you don’t get a loan. Or some lenders call you with high rates and you don’t proceed with the loan. You never get that fee refund. These scams are especially popular in the UK.

Some loans are borderline scams in the first place, so it’s almost no surprise that they’d also be used as a cover for phone scams. Whether it’s a proposed student loan, car loan (especially popular right now), payday loan, or business loan, the goal of the scammer is to harvest your information over the phone. Don’t fall for it!

12. IRS Scams

The caller pretends to be with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) saying you are behind taxes and a warrant for your arrest has been issued. They ask for money so your taxes are cleared out. Immigrants fall victim to this easily as they are new in the country and don’t know the laws.

Fact: IRS or any government agency won’t call you and tell you-you to owe taxes or a warrant for your arrest is issued.

They only send letters. This isn’t commonly known and when you hear the word arrest, you tend to get scared and pay without giving it much thought.

This is a very popular scam, and its success is probably due to the fact that most people are pretty nervous about dealing with the IRS. Oftentimes, robo-callers call tens of thousands of potential victims, and sometimes the callers will even have the last four digits of your social security number already on hand. While the IRS may potentially call you one day, they would not request direct payment over the phone.

13. Warrant Scams

Whether it’s the DEA, FBI, sheriff, or local police department, warrant scams are designed to make victims panic and then give up their personal information over the phone. The scammer will often state that you’ve missed jury duty or perhaps defrauded a bank, and attempt to get payment information.

However, law enforcement demanding money is just something that does not happen legally over the phone. Remember that.

14. Debt Collector Scams

Debt collector scams are fairly popular because, unfortunately, there are just so many people with debt out there. The best thing to do in this situation is to ask for the caller’s information, including company name, and to call them back.

15. Credit Card Security Number Scams

As we’ve mentioned, it’s not a smart idea to give out credit card information over the telephone. But, what about just snippets of information? Though it may seem harmless, even giving out the three-digit security code on the back of your credit card (also known as the CVV number) can lead to being scammed. The scammer can disguise themselves as a bank employee, even giving out a fake employee badge number. But make sure to never give out that CVV number, no matter what they say.

16. Online gift cards

If anyone asks you to send them an online gift card, it is most likely a scam. let’s look at the various gift card fraud schemes that can happen and identify warning signs that something could be amiss. Though scammers can be tricky and pretty persuasive, you generally should be able to avoid gift card scams by following the tips below:

  • No reputable company nor the IRS or any government agency will ever demand payment via gift cards.
  • If you notice the balance of your gift card is gone, then contact the gift card issuer immediately.
  • If someone tries to get you to purchase a particular gift card, it could be a scam. Pick a gift card from the middle of the rack or from a less-frequented area of the store.
  • If the packaging looks tampered with in any way, it could be a scam. Check to see what other gift cards look like, inspecting the seams, PIN’s and anything else that could be amiss.
  • Double-check the balance on your gift cards as soon as you get them and don’t listen to anybody who tells you that you’ll have to pay for products or services using gift cards.

Here are 7 gift card scams you can spot and avoid. 

17. Medical Scams

If you’ve ever dealt with health care, you probably know how difficult it is to dispute a hospital bill. Perhaps that’s why people fall for phone scams that are medical-related. Sometimes the scammer will demand payment on an “unpaid” bill, while other times the scam will offer discounted or free medical services. Unfortunately, these types of scams tend to target the elderly, who have to deal with health care much more than younger people.

18. Online banking scams

You receive texts stating that you have to log in to your online banking account. Once you do, your bank account is hacked. This is a major scam and can literally rob you of all your money.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the following followers who were kind enough to help me create both these Fraud related posts. Without your help, it wouldn’t have been possible.

Feedback, please

  • Have you ever faced a fraud or a scam?
  • Tell me how you have been scammed?
  • What are the ways in which you were scammed?
  • Did you report the crime?

I would love to know.

Let’s stick together in our mission to raise awareness to prevent those scammers from getting away with our hard-earned money. Share this article with your friends to raise awareness. 

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