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How to Spot Scams or Con Artists on the Internet

Linda Collins - September 10, 2019

How to Spot Scams or Con Artists on the Internet

There is nothing worse than losing your hard-earned money on anything. We hate wasting money or losing money on investments or wagers, but nothing is worse than getting scammed of our financial earnings. Most of the time, scammers take the victim mentality, and we are genuinely trying to help them out of our own goodwill. It is extremely infuriating when our good deeds get taken advantage of on the internet.

That’s why this blog article will help you spot scams on a daily basis. We will outline what a scam artist looks like, common scams to watch out for online, characteristics of scam artists, and even give you some tips and tricks to avoid getting your hard-earned money taken by thieves and frauds. We hope this helps you stay safe and secure while you browse the web.

What is a Scam Artist?

The dictionary defines a scam artist as “A person who attempts to defraud others by presenting a fraudulent offer and pretending that it is legitimate.” Often scam artists are college students from third world countries. We’ve all had tough times in life, and most of these kids are just trying to make some extra money by scamming good people.

We aren’t saying that scamming is okay, but if you know who is behind these tricks it is much easier to understand how they operate. They often prey on first world residents because the quality of living is much higher. Normally, they will pose as an American or Englishman who is currently “out-of-state” for any number of reasons.

The most important thing to understand about scam artists is that they want your money, your identity, or your access to something. Whatever it is that they want, they don’t care about you and will exploit you to get what they want or need.

Some Statistics On Scamming

In 2019, Australia says that over 70 million dollars have been reported stolen by scammers. They go on to mention that while over 100,000 reports have been filed, they believe that many times scams aren’t reported and that there are many more happening on a daily basis than this number.

Phishing and identity theft are two of the top scams in the country. Phone, email, and internet scams are the three top mediums that scam artists have used in 2019.

People anywhere from ages 25-64 are commonly scammed. The report actually lists multiple age brackets within that scale, but all of those brackets have tens of thousands of scam reports listed in them.

Females account for 51% of the scams while males make up just 49% of the reported theft. However, men have lost more money due to scamming than females have.

You can look at all of these stats for yourself at https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/about-scamwatch/scam-statistics

Some Common Scams to Watch out For

Romance scams are one of the top ways con-artists attack. If you are a woman on a dating app, you should be wary of anyone who requests money. The goal of a romance scammer is to draw people in through thoughts of a false relationship and then propose a request that can only be solved through a money transfer. They rely on the person’s emotions and feelings towards them romantically to dispel the obvious red flags that abound around scams.

Mail/Check Fraud

There are some times when wiring money is smart, but it is also one of the main ways scammers get money. Often, they try to convince you that will send you money, and then they need you to wire it somewhere.

Fake job postings are a common way of scamming. The con-artist will create a fake business and have fake jobs. Then they will send you a check to pay for what you will need. This could include things such as a new laptop or printer, software for your computer, etc. They will send you a check for a certain amount of money, and then they will ask you to wire it to someone that they a good deal with. They will claim that this person works at getting them the best deals on the items that you need.

The problem is that when you deposit the check your bank is required by federal law to honor that instantly. As soon as the funds are available, within an hour or so, you transfer the money and everything works outright? It wasn’t your money anyway, so it’s not a big deal. But that’s actually what the scammer wants because that check they sent was blank, and it bounces. But the bank can’t figure out the check was blank for 48 hours. Now, your bank wants it’s money back and you never hear from the person again. We recommend waiting at least a week before you send any money. This will guarantee that the check is legitimate. Even then, you should be careful about sending money to anyone via wire transfer.

Characteristics of Scam Artists

Scam artists often have extremely bad grammar. Remember, these people are rarely from the United States. Watch out for misspellings, incorrect punctuation, and sentences that just don’t make sense.

This is a common mistake among con-artists, and they are rarely willing to do anything about it. They want money quickly, they don’t want to have to do elaborate work for it.

Another way to notice a scam artist is that they seem desperate. Especially in romance scams, desperate people often need money right away. They don’t want you to think about it, so they create urgent situations that have to be fixed instantly.

Scam artists almost always ask for a weird form of payment. Either it’s an international bank wire transfer, or it’s payment through Amazon gift cards or Itunes. Be on the lookout for strange forms of payment. It is a surefire way to catch a scammer.

Here are Five Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed:

Slow Down

You don’t have to rush anything. Get to know the person you are talking to and figure out exactly why they need the money. Do adequate research and learn about the person as much as you can. Request to see their social media accounts, and plan a FaceTime where you can see them, and see their body language. How they react to certain things can be very telling of their intentions. You don’t have to rush to date and marry this person. You also don’t have to work on their time table. Flip the script on a would-be scammer. Take your time, and be wary of their requests.

Never Send Money

Never ever send money to someone who you haven’t met in real life. It doesn’t matter who they claim to be. They can say they are government officials, long lost relatives, former friends, or the queen of England, but you still shouldn’t send them money. Don’t send it in any form either. Wire money transfers, gift cards, and MoneyPak cards are anonymous and can happen fast. These forms of payment are almost irreversible, so understand that if you are scammed there is little you can do to get your money back. No matter what, money should never be considered when chatting with someone you don’t know online.

Watch For Red Flags

We’ve covered some of the red flags of a scammer in this article. Watch for the bad grammar, the desperation, the “major life crises” that just pop up, and all of the other characteristics of a scammer. Don’t justify these things either. You might think “well, this person wouldn’t lie about something like this,” but that simply isn’t true. A scammer will lie about anything to get what they want, so don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. Your mind should view them as guilty until proven innocent when someone asks you for money online.

Ask For Advice

A third opinion can be so enlightening we highly recommend it. Someone who can just say “yes that is a definite red flag” or “no, I think you are overreacting is so valuable. Grab a close family member or friend, and explain the whole ordeal to them. Get their opinion on the situation at hand and proceed with caution. Who knows? You might be ignoring red flags you don’t even see. Let your friends and family help you when it comes to your money. Don’t let pride cause you to make a big financial mistake.

Do an Image Search

If you get a FaceTime with someone, compare what they look like in the FaceTime to their profile picture on social media. If you feel like it is the same person, take their photo and do an image search on Google. You can do this by going to images.google.com and uploading the photo. This will provide a list of everywhere that photo appears. It might shed light on exactly who the person in the photo is and is not.

We hope that this helps you spot and avoid internet scams. The internet is inundated with them in 2019, and scamming has taken advantage of many innocent people. Keep your guard up, and don’t fall into the scammer’s trap. If you have other ideas of how to spot scams, leave us a comment down below.

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