How to Avoid Online Fraud: Part One of Three
Attempts to defraud our fellow man have gone on for longer than most of us care to admit. And, while the Internet made all of our lives easier, it also made it that much easier for unsavory characters to scam us out of our hard-earned money. We’ve compiled some of the most popular online fraud techniques, and will be delivering them to you in a three-part series. We’ll be taking a look at these methods, and most importantly, will show you how to avoid them.
Online Auto Sale Fraud
The Scam: Car buyers’ best asset is sometimes also their worst. Buyers of rare cars (and regular folks, too) are always on the hunt for a bargain, and sometimes can’t restrain themselves when they find “The Deal of the Century.” Many times, these great deals aren’t great deals – they’re a scam. There is no car at all, the pictures were lifted from somewhere on the web. The “seller” will say they’re looking for a short sale as they’re going through a divorce or some other money pinching time. They’ll prod the buyer to hurry up and wire them money, because there are obviously many interested parties at that price. In haste, the buyer will send the money and never hear from the “seller” again.
How to Protect Yourself: No matter who you are, buying a car involves a large amount of money. If you can’t visit the seller in person, ask for photos of something that can’t be found floating around online, like a picture of the vehicle’s title, or an odd request like the lining of the trunk. Always request to talk to the seller on the phone. If they refuse, that’s a big red flag! If you’re spending a very large amount of money for a car that isn’t within driving range, buy a plane ticket! A $300 plane ticket is a lot cheaper than losing $60,000.
Online Dating Fraud
The Scam: While this may seem odd at first glance, the deeper you look into the details the more sense it makes. Users of dating sites are likely pining for any sort of interaction, so when they receive messages from prospective dates they are immediately interested. The prey is usually a man, and the attractive woman that messaged him may not be a woman at all. It’s likely a fellow man, merely pretending to be a woman.
How to Protect Yourself: Always do background checking on the person you’re talking to. Google their name, find out what they do for a living, and ask for photos. The more homework you do, the more likely you’ll see through a scam. Most of these people will claim to live far from where the victim is, to eliminate any attempts at visiting. To combat this, only chat with local people to. Of course, never give out any personal information and certainly don’t send a stranger any money!
These are just two of the most prevalent online fraud techniques. There are, sadly, many more out there. If these techniques strike your interest, you can help crack down on them. Many schools offer certified fraud examiner certification. Don’t just protect yourself, fight back! Be on the lookout for our next post covering some other popular online fraud schemes.
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