Beware of Online Scams

Online Scams

Anyone selling online or anywhere else needs to be aware of the possibility that every customer is a potential fraudster. Scams are more prevalent online because the scammer can make an offer without ever confronting the merchant. You have no idea if the customer is legit or is trying to take you for a ride.

Scamming Americans has become a huge international business. Countries that have little law enforcement and high poverty rates are centers for industrial scamming. Online merchants are highly vulnerable because of their increased visibility and easy access. In one way it's great that you are now visible to a world market, but now you are also visible to many more scammers.

The actual financial gains of scammers are estimated at between 400 billion and 1 trillion dollars annually. Because many people do not report scams the actual number is unknown.

There is a wealth on information online about scams, scammers and the legal aspects of the cons. We have set up a few examples about specific scams, how they work and what to look for.

The basic rule of thumb is "If you think it's a scam, it probably is".

Phishing Scams - The term Phishing (pronounced fishing) is directly related to the sending of mass e-mails offering something of value, a chance to make money or buy a product. If the scammer sends out thousands of e-mails, they only need to catch one fish. Phishing scammers are like fishermen, changing bait, fishing different waters and hoping for one bite. And one bite is all they need to reel in the big fish often taking people for $3,000 to $10,000 in one shot. Even a couple of fish a year at that price is worth the effort.

Typical Scam Scenario:

Person contacts you to buy a large quantity of products. They are going to pay you by cashier's check and you will ship the product.

1) The check is a fake check on a foreign bank. You deposit the check and ship the products. Later the check is revealed as a fake and you have lost your inventory and have to pay a bounced check fee.

2) The scammer sends you a check for more than the agreed amount. Then the scammer contacts you and tells you how his secretary made a mistake and overpaid. He or she asks you to refund the difference back via western union. Because you are sitting on a fat load of cash, you do. Come to find out the check was fake.

Printing fake checks is so common that the banks have no idea what is real and what is fraudulent. Banks often take 2 weeks or more to make the determination.

One scam syndicate even printed fake postage stamps for 1 million letters mailed to the US. That equals to over 1 million dollars in fake postage when considering international rates.

If you think you are the only person being contacted, think again. An average business could get many such offers a week. This is a huge problem and can catch you off guard and take you for a ride if you are not paying attention.

We hope anyone with a story to tell will post it in our forum in the Scams section.

Click Here for actual mails that scammers mailed to advertisers on this website.

Below are some samples of e-mail relayed through the craftersbuzz mail system.