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Gateway to the East
 

Online SCAMS - A fraudulent business scheme; a swindle

Follows are a list of some of the common scams that people use to cheat both individuals and companies, sometimes out of significant amounts of money.

As a general advice, if you believe you are being approached to take part in a scam, you can assume that in all cases:

you are going to be the victim or one of the victims

you are being taken for a fool

you have not been personally selected, these scams are targeted at thousands of people

you should not respond in any way with the person or company involved..

What is a scam

This is a slang term for an operation that is devised to look like an official approach whereby you are conned into believing that you will make money by undertaking the least amount of effort, or that you owe money for a non-existent service.

The best web site that describes these scams is: Scam Watch and A to Z of scams

Reporting email abuse

Most email abuse is best ignored and deleted. Should you wish to report the abuse to the email provider, forward the message to:

hotmail : abuse@hotmail.com
Lycos: spam@lycos.com and include "SPAM COMPLAINT", followed by the spam-sending email address in the subject. If you desire a personal reply, put "REPLY REQUESTED" at the end of the subject.
yahoo: mail-abuse@yahoo-inc.com .
   
   

Advance Fee Fraud or the 419 scam

Alternative Advance Fee Frauds

Premium Rate return Calls

Pro Forma Invoicing

Pyramid Selling / Direct Marketing

Domain Name Scam

Amazing Offers!

Scared into Purchasing otherwise free Services

Fake Lottery prize draws


Advance Fee Fraud or the 419 scam

Please note that this scam is spreading, in particular with references to 'missing money' from Enron, Worldcom, Twin Towers.

You are unexpectedly approached by a member of the Nigerian Military / Church / Government / Company etc or from some other country to assist in the transfer of a large amount of money out of the country. The stated reasons will be that Nigerian Nationals cannot hold a foreign bank account, it has to be secret, and so on. Ultimately you will be asked to send ever larger amounts of money to overcome yet another bureaucratic hurdle, bribe an official, pay for stamps - what have you.

In many cases you will be asked to send Company headed paper, sample signatures and bank details to assist in the transfer.

These approaches used to be by letter, then fax, now they are made by email. This scam has been going on for about 20 years and amazingly takes in many people, resulting in the loss overall of many millions of pounds.

If you are approached, just delete the email. DO NOT REPLY. The police, though keen to stop this, get so many emails forwarded to them that they cannot deal with them.

see Govt of New Zealand advice

This scam might well be carefully targeted: A boat builder I knew spent some time in Lagos and Port Harcourt negotiating a deal to supply ferry boats, apparently under an international aid package. Of course nothing came of it apart from an extraordinary amount paid out in bribes and entertainment.

This particular scam is likely to increase over the next few months and years with the increase in computer literacy in general, availability of internet cafés and more importantly the likelihood of users outside Nigeria emulating this.

See: Nigeria grapples with e-mail scams (bbc news item)

Also: Nigeria looks to webwise youth


Alternative advance Fee Frauds

This takes the form of an email or other contact advising you that to release certain monies that are due you, you need to pay initial fees or taxes.

The latest variant of this scam is that a long lsot relative has died and that you stand to inherit a significant amount of money. However the agents who have contacted you need an upfront payment in order to release the money / or establish who you are / or pay taxes / or pay the solicitor ...

previous variants have been that you have won a large amount on a lottery that you were automatically entered into. This lottery being held abroad requires an initial fee in order to release the money.


Premium Rate return Calls

Please fax me your details, including maps and images on 090..... for inclusion on a free business directory.

Its just that the directory doesn't exist, but the 090 number is charged at £1 per minute

The same scam can be seen with mobile phones whereby a message - you have won a prize - is recorded on your voice mail, you ring back and are charged.

Alternatively you have the simple text message - "Please Call 0871.... "

A similar scam is where you have to fax a particular number to be taken off a list which keeps on faxing you with utter rubbish.

see Hotels hit by fax scam


Pro Forma Invoicing

Where you receive an invoice for a service that you haven't requested. The invoice is supposed to slip through the accounting system and be paid without being thoroughly checked. International Business Directory send out order forms that look exactly like invoices, on the back of the invoice you are told that payment will be accepted as an order, in this case for inclusion in a fax directory.

Similar examples include approaches made by telephone asking for confirmation - with careful wording - that such as an advert is to be placed or renewed. Say the wrong thing and this is then treated as an official order!

see Bogus operation for an in depth view of one persons experience

This particular scam, whereby companies pay to appear on directories is likely to catch the best of us. I get regular contacts, both by email and telephone asking me to pay to place our company details on web directories, the challenge is to identify which directories have any value and which are either scams or of little worth.


Pyramid Selling / Direct Marketing

This is an old idea that has unfortunately been translated onto the web. You pay money down the line to somebody who contacted the person who contacted you, you in turn are paid by people who are contacted by the people you persuade to join. It is one of the oldest tricks in the book, now (direct marketing) often associated with the selling of consumer items, but ultimately dependent on the recruitment of additional 'dupes'.

see: Isle of Wight's get-rich fiasco

Associated with this is of course the very pointless and irritating lucky emails whereby you must forward an email (used to be a letter in the olden days) to 10 people who would do the same... why?


Domain Name Scam

This is a relatively new scam (June 2002) and likely to do the rounds over the next few months, perhaps over the next year until it has saturated the market.

Basically you get contacted by phone and advised by a very helpful ISP that they have just had a request to purchase a series of domain names that matches your companies corporate presence. Would you like the opportunity to purchase these names before the impostor buys them. you have to make up your mind very quickly as the domains are about to go - the pressure is on.

The names will largely match the domain names already owned but include all the .net, info, .biz .me and in the case of the company that contacted me, ".uk.com".

In our case, the domain names about to be bought included: midkentwater.net, midkentwater.biz. All are still available, of marginal value to us and can be purchased for about £10.

The cost was in the £100s of pounds. In this case I politely told them that it sounded like a scam and to not bother me, end of call. Clearly the impostor or other buyer doesn't exist as the the domain names that were 'about' to be purchased are still available.

Domain Registrar Services is one of the companies doing this scam, they do have a website, http://www.domainregistrarservices.co.uk/ the prices shown are high but not as high as the prices quoted - and charged for - on the phone!


Amazing Offers!

Follows is regular scam that is now seen on the web - don't respond, its a con!

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO EARN £100, $150 to £200, $300 PER WEEK FROM YOUR OWN HOME BASED NEWSPAPER CLIPPING BUSINESS.

Never before have details of this fantastic opportunity been made available. Now you could earn extra money every week by cutting out NEWSPAPER ARTICLES.

You will be able to earn as much as £200/$400 per week and more from this fascinating and profitable business Immediately. Make money in your spare time, right from your own home, and what is more, you can earn money
on a regular basis....get paid £2/$3.....£5/$8....£10/$15....and even up to £20/$30....per clipping. Clip only 3 or 4 items a day and this can add up to a hefty weekly income.

If you are interested or just want some further information then all you have to do is email me back, press reply and put "MORE INFO" in the subject box, and I shall send you further details.

There are more than 150,000 Publications Worldwide, these include Trade and Professional Journals, as well as special interest magazines geared to industry and other groups, these Magazines and publications publish on a regular basis, Weekly, Monthly etc, they need to fill their pages with material of interest, but many of them can't afford to hire someone to dig for information or clippings. They are happy to pay for a service which provides
them with the newspaper items that they can use. So these publications need items from you all the time. They will be paying you on a regular basis, thereby giving you a regular income !!!!


Scared into Purchasing otherwise free Services

The one that I see most is the regular warning that one of the companies I deal with is in breach of the data protection act, or is about to be, due to the registration expiring. Please send £95 or a similar amount for registration information. Otherwise you risk a fine of £5,000 etc etc.. Apparently, should you pay up you get a copy of the standard application form and the free booklet that comes from the Data Protection Commissioner.

No doubt there are many similar scams whereby you pay for free advice and services. Asbestos will represent a big opportunity for fraudulent companies offering surveys and the like.


Fake Lottery prize draws

The fraudsters telephone British residents telling them they have been entered into the Canadian National Lottery for free.

A few weeks later they call back to tell the person they have won a huge prize, often in the region of £175,000.

They then demand several thousand pounds to pay for the tax on the winnings.

In some cases victims have lost more than £40,000.

see: Lottery scam tricks Britons

Millions of letters arrive through UK letterboxes from abroad each year claiming that the householder has already won a guaranteed prize of either a huge cash sum or a gift like a holiday or a new car.

The scam takes various forms, but in most cases the reader is told they need to send a small administrative fee of between £10 and £35 to release their winnings.

Because the sums involved are so small, millions have decided to post the money in the hope of claiming a huge prize.

Their winnings either never arrive or have so many financial strings attached they're essentially worthless.

see: Fake prize draws trick millions


Hall of shame

The top 10 internet frauds reported to the NCL (National Consumers League) last year were:

  • Bogus online auctions, where the items purchased are never delivered.
  • Deliberate misrepresentation or non-delivery of general merchandise purchased online.
  • Nigerian money offers.
  • Deliberate misrepresentation or non-delivery of computer equipment or software purchased online.
  • Internet access scams, where bogus internet service providers fraudulently charge for services that were never ordered or received.
  • Credit card or telephone charges for services that were never ordered or misrepresented as free. These often include charges for accessing 'adult' material.
  • Work-at-home schemes promising wildly exaggerated sales and profits.
  • Advance fee loans, where consumers are duped into paying upfront charges for loans which never materialise.
  • Phoney offers of cheap-rate credit card deals, once again on payment of upfront fees.
  • Business opportunities or franchises sold on the basis of exaggerated profit estimates.

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