Internet Fraud & Scams

What Are Internet Scams?

It wasn’t too long ago that we felt safe, protected by water, distance and time from the con men and their “games”. We were isolated and too far for them to invest time and energy in their schemes. But, slowly some probed with their get rich schemes into our community with telephone calls and by mail. It was slow process and for them risky. But the Internet changed all that. We must be vigilant to those ads that are too good to be true. Report all complaints to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The Internet brought the world into our homes. The thought is both breathtaking and scary. The Internet is a virtual classroom that offers anything and everything. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine legitimate sites from the fraudsters. Educate yourselves, and remember once the information is sent, it’s for the world to see, forever.
Don’t be a victim. There are sites that provide the scams and how they are promoted, along with helpful tips, resources. If you are a victim or attempted victim, a reporting process is also available online.

Nigerian Scam Letter

What drives this scheme is greed; people anticipating riches and rewards for nothing. With a click of the mouse, a Nigerian Scam Letter can be sent to millions of households, here in our community and around the world. The Nigerian Scam is one of the largest and longest running scams in the world. Although there are a number of variations of this scam, they involve the same theme…

        …An alleged government official or businessman from a foreign government or agency contacts you to request your assistance transferring a large sum of money into your bank account in exchange for a share of the profits. If you respond to this offer, you are typically asked to provide banking account information, personal information, blank company letterhead forms as well as money to cover transaction fees, transfer costs, taxes, and/or attorney’s fees. Oftentimes you may receive “official” looking documents, stamps, seals, and logos to authenticate the transaction. Victims of this scam often lose substantial sums of money.

Phishing

Phishing is the act of sending an email to someone while falsely claiming to be a legitimate business. They attempt to trick recipients into divulging personal financial information such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, social security numbers, etc. By hijacking the trusted brands of well-known banks (e.g., Citibank, U.S. Bank), online retailers (e.g., eBay, Paypal, AOL), and credit card companies (e.g., VISA, FirstUSA), phishers are able to convince 5% of recipients to respond. In this scam, phishers ask you to “update” or “validate” your account information by going to a website that looks legitimate or authentic whereupon you are asked to provide personal financial information. Victims of this scam often become victims of credit card fraud, bank fraud, or identity theft. To date, the best defense against this scam is public awareness.

Pharming

Whereas Phishing targets users one at a time, Pharming is broader in its scope. Pharming redirects as many users as possible from legitimate commercial websites and leading them to counterfeit sites. These counterfeit sites often look so identical to the genuine sites that the user is unaware of being redirected. Then as users enter their login names and passwords, the information is captured by the criminals that control the site. One of the most deviant forms of Pharming involves DNS (Domain Name System) poisoning. DNS is an Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. If a DNS directory is “poisoned” the users can be instantaneously connected a fraudulent website even if they type in the correct URL

Auction and Retail Schemes Online

According to the Federal Trade Commission and Internet Fraud Watch, a fraudulent online auction sale is reportedly the number one form of Internet fraud. These online schemes offer allegedly high-end retail goods – ranging from watches, to computers, to collectibles that attract many potential buyers. These schemes induce their victims to send money for the promised items, but then deliver nothing or only an item far less valuable than what was promised (e.g., counterfeit or altered goods).

Some helpful links to further your knowledge on Internet Fraud and Scams:

    http://www.firstgov.gov/Citizen/Topics/Internet_Fraud.shtml

    http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/scamsdesc.htm

    http://www.internetfraud.usdoj.gov

    http://www.antiphishing.org