Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Email Hoaxes to Be Aware Of

Con artists have been scamming the unwary for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, in this age of modern technology it is even easier for unscrupulous con men to make a lot of money. Email has become the medium of choice for the scammers, making it extremely easy for them to try their con on millions of people at a click of a button. Below are three of the most common scams that you may find in your inbox. They range from the ridiculous to the plausible but, unbelievably, all three scams make the fraudsters millions of dollars every year.

The Nigerian Scam

The Nigerian Scam has been around for over a century in one form or another. With the existence of email and credit cards it is unfortunately a lot easier now for the fraudsters to make a lot of money very quickly.

The email claims to either be from a government official, quasi-government office or a wealthy family (typically in Nigeria or the Ivory Coast, although there are variations on this scam). Sketchy details are given of an embarrassing legal problem, whereby they need to move money trapped in Nigeria into a foreign bank account. In exchange for your assistance with this you are promised a large percentage of the fortune, worth millions of dollars.

It sounds unbelievable but, blinded by thoughts of unimaginable wealth, people do get sucked into the scam. Once the fraudsters have hooked you in there will be a whole list of reasons why the money transfer is being held up, all of which can conveniently be resolved by you paying them money. For instance, fees for paperwork might need to paid, legal costs, officials need to be bribed to turn a blind eye to the shady dealings - you get the picture. People pay up thousands of dollars because they think that once they receive their million dollar fortune a few $5,000 payments here and there won't matter. Once the fraudsters they have squeezed every last cent out of you, you will never hear from them again.

The Foreign Lottery Scam

In recent years a new email scam has emerged, which works on the same principal as the Nigerian scam. An email arrives in your inbox announcing that you are the lucky winner of a foreign lottery. Sometimes the name of a legitimate bank or organisation is used, along with official looking websites, to lend the scam credibility. The scam works for the same reason that the Nigerian scam is still being used - people are greedy and want to believe it is true. Of course, the emails demand a huge administration fee to be paid for issuing the check. Once the victim has paid this then the check either never arrives or it bounces. Any further attempts to contact the organisation to recover their 'winnings' will simply be ignored.

The PayPal Scam

This is one of the most convincing scams doing the rounds as the email is so authentic looking. It claims that PayPal need you need to log in and verify your account details, (sometimes the reason is given as a loss of data from a system error). The log in link looks legitimate but the web address it takes you to is a mock up of the PayPal site and is completely fraudulent. Be alert and never give over your credit card details and personal information if you are not totally convinced of a source's legitimacy. You can email PayPal if you are unsure if an email is a scam or the real deal.

If you live in America the best place to report email scams is The Internet Fraud Complaint Center or (IFCC). With your help in reporting suspected email scams, they can make the internet a safer place for everyone and stop the unwary from being conned out of their hard earned money.

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