This top 10 list of scams shows the most popular ways scammers are targeting the unwary, the get-rich-quick and the gullible.

However, with the current economic climate, it also includes the financially struggling and the poor who are desperate to improve their position in life.

The scammers are continually changing the themes once one approach receives publicity and awareness increases. An example is the advance fee fraud.

This type of fraud has been around since the 1920's when it was known as the Spanish Prisoner Fraud, and is still today taking thousands of dollars and sometimes hundreds of thousands from people.

There are now hundreds of variations, however the theme is that you are contacted [usually by email] by someone far away who has a fortune and is having difficulty getting it out, and want to give you [or your church] millions of dollars to help them.

It doesn't matter what country it comes from, who the people are, how they come to have their fortune, or whether they have cash, gold or uncut diamonds. The scam is the same, and people continue to fall for it because they are distracted by the wealth they are going to receive!

The key is to remember the big picture, and not get lost in the storyline.

Top 10 List

  • Lottery You receive an unsolicited email or call to say you have won a lottery or substantial prize in a competition you didn't enter. However before you can claim your prize, you either have to provide identification details [so they can commit identity theft] or you have to pay some money to cover administration fees or taxes. The prize does not exist
  • Phishing. You receive an email that appears to be from a credible organisation such as your bank, credit card company, Paypal, eBay etc. There is a request to update your information because of a security breach etc and they provide a link within the email for you to use. If you click on the link you will be taken to a scammer's site where they will record your details such as username and passwords when you login
  • Work at Home. These scams target the people who spend a lot of time at home and want to use their time to earn money. The business opportunities focus on paid work from home. They usually require money to be paid up front for materials or 'how to' books, however after the money is sent, it is rare to hear back from them. If they do reply, the information sent usually involves recruiting someone else to earn a commission, or the information is only what is available in the public domain
scam money
  •  419. You will receive an offer by email, letter or fax to share a large sum of money, by assisting to move the money from one point to another. They may require fees up front to bribe officials or cover taxes, or they may ask for your bank account details to supposedly transfer the money into
  • Weight Loss. Obesity is increasing and so is the number and variety of ways to lose money trying to lose weight. The FTC state that if a company claims that it will cause weight loss of two pounds or more a week for a month, or more without dieting or exercise, cause substantial weight loss no matter what or how much you eat, or block the absorption of fat or calories to enable you to lose substantial weight, it is almost certainly a scam
  • Online Dating scam. The internet offers you the opportunity to be anonymous when looking to meet people, however that also offers online predators the opportunity to be a wolf in sheep's clothing! They can use any photo they wish in their profile, and use all the appropriate words to come across as a wonderful catch. Their goal is your money, but by the time they get that, they have your heart also, so the loss is not just financial - it is usually a heartbreak as well!
  • Auction Fraud. The most popular are Ebay and PayPal frauds. It usually involves failing to deliver the product purchased, or misrepresenting the product being offered for sale
  • Get Rich Quick. Make thousands of dollars while you sleep, or earn $2,000 a week for 2 hours work a day, or make $1,000 an hour using our 'secrets'. The Internet is full of get rich quick schemes by buying the advertiser's eBook or CD or using their 'system'. The people who make the big dollars are the website promoters!
  • Travel. In the travel industry pre-payment is usually required, and this acts as a magnet to scammers. With the internet, scammers can set up a professional looking website and online store in 10 minutes and less than $200. That is all it takes for them to commence illegal or unethical business.
  • Medicare. It may involve a scammer ringing seniors and telling them that their medical benefits are ending and that they have a limited time to get a new card as the old one does not work any longer. The threat is designed to get seniors to divulge their checking account number. The Medicare scams may also include equipment manufacturers offering "free" products to individuals. Insurers are then charged for products that were not needed and/or may not have been delivered

In 2007 the Federal Trade Commission released a statistical survey of fraud in the United States that shows that 30.2 million adults – 13.5 percent of the adult population – were victims of fraud. More people [an estimated 4.8 million U.S. consumers] were victims of fraudulent weight-loss products than any of the other frauds covered by the survey.

The top 10 frauds listed in the 2007 report include:

  •   Fraudulent Weight-Loss Products (4.8 million victims)
  •   Foreign Lottery Scams (3.2 million victims)
  •   Unauthorized Billing - Buyers Clubs (3.2 million victims)
  •   Prize Promotions (2.7 million victims)
  •   Work-at-Home Programs (2.4 million victims)
  •   Credit Card Insurance (2.1 million victims)
  •   Unauthorized Billing - Internet Services (1.8 million victims)
  •   Advance-Fee Loans (1.7 million victims)
  •   Credit Repair Scams (1.2 million victims)
  •   Business Opportunities (.8 million victims)

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