March 05, 2007
With the growth of the Internet, comes the increase of online scams. And some may originate thousands of miles away from home, which is why the State Department just released new information on how to spot them.
Here are some of the more common scams.
the Damsel in Distress
Thousands of people use online dating, and so do scammers.
They meet their victim online and often spend several months courting them, online and on the phone.
Before they can meet, the scammer has to make a trip overseas, often times to Nigeria.
That's where they have some sort of unfortunate accident, like he or she loses their passport, or family member got sick when in Nigeria.
The scammer then asks their new "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" for financial help. When they get it, they often keep asking for more, or eventually disappear.
Long-Lost Inheritance Scam
A supposed lawyer contacts an American citizen, either by letter or email, informing he or she that a long lost relative has died overseas, usually in Nigeria.
This person worked in the oil industry and died in a car crash or of a heart attack, leaving one million dollars in savings.
They lawyer tailors the name of the mythical dead man to the person being contacted. All the American citizen has to do is pay the fee of money transfer for $200 and the lawyers fee of $500 to $1000.
Work Permits Scam
This scam is tailored to fit each victim differently, but focuses on active job searchers.
The personnel director at a multinational firm is looking to hire highly skilled workers for a six month gig, paying $150,000, plus free housing, usually in Nigeria. Or a musician is invited to perform free of travel with a big pay-off.
IN both instances the Americans are asked to pay $1800 up front for a work permit, and in the end the job doesn't exist.
Scammers post these on legitimate classified sites, and have submitted fake company listings to reputable job sights.
An American citizen has an item advertised to buy online at an auction site like eBay.
The buyer sends a money order for too much money, and then requests the difference back, often a money transfer from Western Union, usually in Nigeria.
The seller will usually send it back promptly and a few weeks later the American gets a call saying the money order was a forgery, and they are out the money and the item.
One way to avoid this is to wait for the money order to clear, like a check.
For the complete State department brochure, click here