In times of crisis, it is heartwarming to see so many people band together to help those who are in need. Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, public acts of violence are all situations in which people will pitch in and show their support. Organizations like the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, will take donations of food, blood, and money to send to affected people and devastated areas.
A concerning yet often overlooked new trend in scams is the marked increase in coupon scams. This type of scam usually involves suspicious looking coupons which are sold online. Scammers forge very realistic looking coupons and sell them to you, the consumer. Paying ten dollars for an online coupon book with 100 dollars' worth of coupons seems like a good deal. When you try and use the coupon either the fake will be real enough to fool the store or it won't be.
This is an example of a typical chain letter: Jack receives an email asking that he send $1 to the person whose name is on the top of the chain letter. Then he is told to add his own name to the list and send the letter off to at least 7 people. Jack does this, figuring that when his name comes up he'll get a significant sum of money. The truth is he will never receive that money. To understand why this is so, we have to look at how the chain letter scheme works. If each person in the chain sends the letter to 7 additional people, then each generation of the letter has squared itself.
For over ten years eBay has been used by consumers to find deals on the things they want as well as an affordable way to sell items, whether you are cleaning out your attic or starting a small business. But like with most things online, you need to know the facts in order to avoid those who wish to scam you and take your money.
Sadly, the thieves of today will go to any lengths imaginable in order to steal your identity. Over the past few years, a disturbing trend in scams has been for thieves to send emails posing as FBI agents in order to try and trick consumers into giving up their personal information. IC3.gov received over 14,000 complaints in 2011 of scam artists posing as agents from the FBI and contacting potential victims via emails.
Yesterday brought a great development for those who fight identity theft. In a joint press release issued by Match.com, eHarmony.com and Spark Networks, the companies announced that they would begin screening for online predators. While many have focused on the fact that this will include screening for sexual predators, we would like to focus on another type of predator they will be working to root out.
While most of the focus on fraud these days is centered on hacking and cyber scamming, it's important to remember that mail fraud still has a very real impact in the fraud space. Scams involving stolen property, reshipping, money laundering, are all very real dangers which are still prevalent today. Last week, we asked Ricky Vida, an inspector with the US Postal Inspectors Office for some information on what he's seeing in the mail fraud space, and what sort of things consumers should be on the lookout for.