Internet Scams:The Easy Way to Lose Millions!

Crafty and conniving, Internet thieves have concocted ways to steal money, identities, and peace of mind that are so clever, they even fool some experts. Consider some of the following ways a crook can use email and the Internet to separate you from your money:

Let’s Make a Deal

You receive an email from a Nigerian government official asking for your help in transferring $12 million into a bank in your country. For your assistance and a little information (your bank account number and signature) they’ll allow you to keep $3 million.

But once you’ve agreed to help, the “deal” slowly unravels. Suddenly, there are urgent requests for cash--a bribe for a government official or “unforeseen expenses.” Before long, you’ve paid out thousands, they have your bank info, and you haven’t seen one penny of that $3 million.

What Rhymes With “Ripped Off”?

These scammers offer potential poets the chance to be “poetry contest winners.” Then comes exciting news—you’re a semi-finalist! For just a “small fee,” you can buy the book in which your poem appears, have it mounted on a plaque, or even recorded by a professional actor onto a tape. Plus, for an additional fee (about $500) you can travel to a ceremony in another city where you’ve been nominated to receive the “Poet of the Year Award!” Of course, much to the promising poet’s dismay, all of this is fiction.

The Gift that Keeps On the Thief

Gift cards are great--affordable, easy to buy, and perfect presents. They’re also ideal for making some crooks very happy. First, the thief visits a local retailer where gift cards are displayed on a publicly accessible rack. The criminal copies down several card PIN numbers, returns them to the display, and then goes home to wait. Eventually, an innocent shopper will purchase one of those same cards, add money to it and give it away as a gift. The thief merely bides his time, occasionally calling the retailer with the ill-gotten PIN numbers to check for activation status and balance on the cards. Once a card is loaded with money, the thief uses it for his own Internet shopping spree. By the time the card’s rightful owner attempts to redeem it, the balance has been used up, and the gift card is worthless. Adding insult to injury, some crooks will then take the used up gift card numbers and sell them online at a “discount” (a $25 gift card for just $10! What a deal!) Of course, it’s no bargain when the victim realizes the card is worth $0.

Stay One Step Ahead

So what can you do to ward off the wicked? Arm yourself with knowledge and you’ll proactively protect yourself from the sneakiest scammers and scumbags out there:

  • Stranger Danger. Advice that’s not just for kids anymore. Simply put, never answer emails from people you don’t know.
  • Who wants to know? Adopt a policy of never providing bank or credit card details via email. If ordering merchandise online, make sure it’s from a trusted site. And never share passwords with anyone.
  • Gift card buyers beware. Don’t buy gift cards off publicly accessible racks and always inspect packaging for any evidence of tampering. Always keep your receipt while there’s money loaded on the card and never buy gift cards from online auction sites.
  • Check it out. Make it a habit to check consumer sites for up-to-date info on the latest scams and how to combat them. For more information go to or

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