Monday, April 7, 2014

Caught In The Middle Of A Scam? How Did This Happen?

I've been scammed. Oh do I hate to admit that. It's embarrassing. It's humiliating. It's humbling. But I have been and I can't change that. Nope, not gonna go into the specific details. The details don't really matter, (it wasn't a huge scam, but no fun nonetheless!). What matters is that I didn't listen to that inner voice in me that kept saying "this just doesn't seem right". I ignored it and, well, I paid the price for ignoring.

How did I get caught up in a scam? The same way anyone else does, it seemed true and looked true, and sounded good and it met a need. It's not hard, in fact it is quite easy and millions of people have it happen every year. Yes, millions! According to some experts, one million people get or see some kind of scam each day in the US. One in 10 people falls victim to a scam each day(Better Business Bureau) Those are really high numbers in my opinion and they grow every year!

Why do scams happen? Because people are greedy! Plain and simple, they want what you have, and it often involves your money. Please remember though, it does not only have to involve your money. People get scammed out of all kinds of things, identity, goods, services, and even love. Scams come in all kinds of sizes too. That may seem a little strange to refer to them in that way, but some of the most notorious scams are tiny little ones that people use on hundreds or thousands of unsuspecting people and it all adds up to a very large amount by the time they are done.

There are hundreds of scams out there, so may it would be hard to list them all, but here are a few very common ones to really look out for:

  • Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales - selling something they really don't own. You pay upfront.
  • Phishing and Social Networking Scam - getting your personal  information and using it as if they were you.
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Scam  - you've won big, usually form a  foreign country, but they are hidden here in the states too.
  • Social Media/Online Dating Scam - Comes across as a friend online and when you click on their link you often open up a serious worm or virus that can infect your computer. They often ask you to update something like Flash Player to see a video they want to share.
  • Home Improvement Scam (Storm Chasers) - Offer to fix your house or vehicles, then require money up front and repairs are either not done or started and never finished.
  • Check Cashing Scam - They send you a check or money order and ask you to cash it and use Western Union or similar to transfer the money to them.
  • Emergency Scam or Grandparents Scam - Someone pretends to be the grandchild or relative of an elderly person, claims they are in trouble (in jail, hospital, or the like) and need money to get out of trouble.
  • Identity Theft - I am sure you are very familiar with this. People are having their identities stolen more and more each day.
The descriptions I gave are not in a lot of detail, but I think you can get the idea of what each of those scams is. If you want to learn more you can find it HERE or HERE or HERE.

From the FBI here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
  • Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
  • Be cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.
  • Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.
  • Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.
  • Log on directly to the official website for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of "linking" to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.
  • Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.
  • If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
  • If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source (phone book, trusted Internet directory, legitimate billing statement, etc.) and use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request. 
  • Forward suspicious e-mails to the Federal Trade Commission at They will follow up on it and help eliminate the source of the problem.
  • Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

The tips listed can also be used in helping you to avoid scams not on the internet. If someone offers a business proposal to you, search out information about that person or company. Ask your friends and family if they know anything about them. Ask for references and then follow up with those references.

That last point above is something that you should really take heed of;  if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. We all have that inner voice that warns us when things don't seem quite right. Listen to it! It can save you so much in the long run.

I plan on being more vigilant in my life to avoid any chance of getting caught in a scam, again! How will you protect yourself? Make sure you share this with a friend! The more we all know the better!


  1. great info! People need to be careful My father in law had his email hacked and it sent emails asking for money as he was in Quate. A couple of his friends actually replied

  2. Thanks for sharing! Working for the local Sheriff's Office as a 911 dispatcher for 9 years, I can't tell you how many scams I have seen. The most recent over the last few years have been the 'you won our lottery for $9000'. They send a check for $15,000 and then want you to cash it and send them back $6,000 for taxes, overhead, etc. By the time the bank catches that the check is no good, you have already cashed and sent them the $6,000 and now the $15,000 is removed from you bank account by the bank. Makes for some very nasty situations and since it bounces from bank account to bank account and ends up somewhere overseas, usually Nigeria, it's impossible to track or prosecute. The return addresses are all forwarded several times so authorities can't catch up with them that way either.

    Sad to know that people would rather sit at home and scam someone than go out and get a real job.

  3. Thanks for the info! It's always better to be safe than sorry. I'm sharing this...

  4. I love how you said that the details are not relevant and went straight to teaching others what you learned about your lesson. What an amazingly positive attitude! Thank you!

  5. Great advice and a great reminder. Sometimes it is so hard to tell real from scam!

  6. Don't tell my husband about that scamming and we'll hear cussing. These people should be punished. They take advantage of people who work really hard.

  7. Lois, thank you so much for these details.I consider myself pretty savvy this way, but have found myself embarrassed by following my bleeding heart and not my inner voice, gut feeling and logic before myself. And it is embarrassing. It's so good of you to bring it out in the open and give these great tools.

  8. Great information. And I am so sorry about that. It is scary these days with all these people trying to make money out of stealing from people who are working so hard to earn a living. These scammers are getting good at it too and it sure pays to be very mindful, aware, knowledgeable, and really be cautious. Thank you for sharing!

  9. There are tons of scams going around. I try to be careful but there is always the risk that you get involved in something you never wanted to or thought that was a real deal. Thank you for all this great info!

  10. Ugh its so terrible that these things happen! its happened to me a few times. too bad people can't just be honest!