Some criminals will say almost anything to try to scam people—including threatening arrest, lawsuits, imprisonment, or even physical harm. While the scams take several different forms, the goal is the same—to pressure people to pay money or reveal personal or financial information. Below are a few examples:
As people try to screen unwanted phone calls, unscrupulous telemarketers and scam artists have looked for new ways to lure people to answer calls. One increasingly common technique scam artists use is to falsify or “spoof” their caller ID information with local phone numbers or information to make it look like the calls are from a nearby person or business. While the caller’s information may appear local, the calls are often placed by scam artists who are located outside the state or country.
Fake check scams generally involve a fraudulent check sent to a citizen containing the citizen’s name and address with instructions to deposit the check and send money to a third party. Typically, once the money is sent, the bank determines the check is fake and the citizen is on the hook for the money he or she sent. It can happen like this:
As an independent cosmetics sales consultant with an active online presence, “Amy” was used to accepting checks from customers she did not know personally. So when a customer in Australia placed an order and offered to send a check, Amy agreed. When Amy received the check, however, she noticed that the customer had overpaid by $100. The customer explained that she needed the products right away and asked Amy to wire the overpayment to a third party for expedited shipping services. Amy brought the check to her bank, which determined that it was counterfeit.
People who used certain prescription drugs for "off-label" uses — not for their primary, FDA-approved labeled uses — may be eligible for monetary refunds.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, along with other state attorneys general and the federal government, reached settlements with three large drug companies: Abbott Laboratories, Wyeth, and GlaxoSmithKline.
The settlements provide restitution (refund) money for Minnesota customers who were prescribed the drugs Advair, Depakote, Paxil, Rapamune, or Wellbutrin for “off-label” uses during certain periods of time.
Most people don’t know that their cell-phone bill can be used like a credit card—with third party companies placing charges for unrelated services or merchandise on the phone bill.
As a result, people are surprised when they find charges on their phone bill for unrelated and unwanted merchandise or services. This practice—by which unauthorized charges are placed on a person’s phone bill—is known as “cramming.”
“Pete and Julie” were desperate to sell their timeshare. They rarely used it and the fees kept rising. When a “broker” called and claimed her client was interested in buying, Pete and Julie were eager to know the details. Pete and Julie hesitated when the broker asked them to pay a fee for the sale expenses, but the broker insisted that her client was anxious to close the sale and the money would be refunded.
“Shelly” and her family sat down to dinner when the phone rang. Before she answered the call, Shelly looked at the caller ID and saw her own name and phone number! She answered the call and heard a recording that offered to lower her credit card interest rate. Shelly hung up and reported the call to her phone company.
Most sweepstakes scams have a few things in common. They claim that the recipient has won, or is about to win, a large cash prize. And they try to get the recipient to pay money, often supposedly to claim the bogus prize.
Don’t play along. The perpetrators of sweepstakes scams are fly-by-night operators who conceal their identity to avoid detection. Once your money is sent, it is usually lost for good. It can happen like this:
It is difficult to ignore a ringing telephone. While fraudulent emails and junk mail can be deleted or tossed in the trash, telephone calls are tougher to tune out. And because telephone calls are still considered a secure form of communication, voice phishing scams take advantage of consumers’ trust to steal money and personal information.