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Watch For Scams Newsletter. How to Spot a Scam
October 18, 2022

How to Spot a Scam

Watch For Scams is dedicated to helping you avoid becoming a victim of fraud.

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How to Spot a Scam

There is a lot of good advice around to help you understand which scams are popular right, how they work, and how to spot them.

However, the advice is often specific to a single campaign or type of scam: Watch out for fake DHL emails; Beware of SMS messages from the Royal Mail; Don’t open invoices from unknown senders; Check the spelling and links in emails; Reverse image search too-good-to-be-true dating profile pics, and so on.

Being specific, the advice is narrow. SMS scams are not the same as email scams, and neither has much in common with a romance scam. There is a lot to remember.

So in this newsletter you will get the most general advice that can be applied to almost any scam, over any media, on any time scale, whether it’s a new scam or something tried and tested.

In every scam no matter how sophisticated or how amateur, there are two red flags.

An urgent need for money

The end goal of all scams is to enrich the scammer and that often involves a direct transfer of money, whether it’s entering credit card details into a fake website or wiring tens of thousands of dollars to a stranded lover. The demand for money is almost always urgent. Scammers know that their requests don’t stack up, so they want you to rush, and they don’t want you to involve other people.

In a romance scam where the criminal hopes to make the victim fall in love with them, the scammer may take their time to begin. However, when the demand for money comes, it is likely to be urgent. It can take months or even years but inevitably they will try to get money.

Asking for personal information

Personal information helps the scammer pretend to be you. Sometimes it’s as simple as stealing your username and password with a fake website, so they can log in as you on the real website.

Birthdates, addresses, and passwords are prized by thieves who use the information to access your online accounts and steal your funds.

If you believe you have been a victim of this type of scam you should promptly report it to the IC3's website at The IC3's complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

Remember - always watch for scams!


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