As I wrote in a recent article, I recently gave a talk regarding “Scams, Shams and Flimflams”. As I was preparing for the talk, I came across a great number of government and non-government web sites providing information on these matters. This information came from the FBI’s site, “Common Fraud Schemes” http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/fraud#advfee
The FBI site says “An advance fee scheme occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value—such as a loan, contract, investment, or gift—and then receives little or nothing in return.”
“The variety of advance fee schemes is limited only by the imagination of the con artists who offer them.” The scammers may report that they have information about money that has been found, an inheritance, a refund, a sweepstakes or lottery winning, or another opportunity. The victim will be asked to pay a finder’s fee, a good-faith fee, or other advance fee. Our local newspaper has reported how locals have fallen for such frauds recently in this area.
The FBI site offers tips to avoid these scams and others. The primary tip is to remember the following statement: If something appears too good to be true, it probably is. The site offers the following list of tips:
“… be suspect if you are asked to pay in advance to receive something unexpected.”
“Know who you are dealing with. If you have not heard of a person or company that you intend to do business with, learn more about them. …. visit the business location, check with the Better Business Bureau, or consult with your bank, an attorney, or the police.
“Be wary of businesses that operate out of post office boxes or mail drops and do not have a street address. Also be suspicious when dealing with persons who do not have a direct telephone line and who are never in when you call, but always return your call later.”
Also, because many of these scams originate in other countries, be particularly wary when you are requested to send money or other property outside the United States.