How to avoid cyber scamsThe month of October was been proclaimed Cyber Security Awareness Month by Governor Jack Dalrymple. In an effort to increase cyber security awareness, this is the second part of our series on cyber scams currently circulating.
The month of October was been proclaimed Cyber Security Awareness Month by Governor Jack Dalrymple. In an effort to increase cyber security awareness, this is the second part of our series on cyber scams currently circulating.
Over-payment scams: There are several variations to this scam, but one of the most common is the online auction scam.
You have posted an item online at an auction site or with online classifieds. You receive a series of emails from a potential buyer who confirms that they would like to purchase your item. However, they end up sending you a check or money order for a substantial amount more than you are asking for your item. Their instructions to you are: cash the check, keep the money for the price of the item you are selling, and then wire the rest of the money back to them, or to another address of the “transport” company you will use to deliver the item to them. Although the check or money orders may look real, they are counterfeit and you will lose the amount you have wired to them.
Nigerian Scams: (419 scam) There are many variations on this scam, but ultimately, you receive an email from a member of a wealthy family. They need help in getting large sums of money out of the country and they would like your assistance. They promise you a large cut of the money for your assistance. All you are asked to do is cover the endless “legal” and other “fees” that must be paid to the people that can release the money. The more you are willing to pay, the more they will try to steal from you. There is no money and you will never recover the money you have sent to them in good faith.
Online Dating Scams: (Sweetheart Scam) With the many dating sites, chat rooms and social networking sites online today, scammers are tapping into these resources to find potential victims. The scammers create fake profiles (often as someone in the military) to build online relationships. They seek victims who appear to be vulnerable due to recent loss of their spouses, divorces or family issues, and eventually convince their victims to send them money. In some cases, they claim to need money for sick relatives, medical expenses or to travel to the United States so they can “get married” to their love interests. Once the money is wired to a foreign country, it is gone!
Penny Auction Sites: (Bidding Fee Auction) With this type of auction, the participant must pay a non-refundable fee to place each small incremental bid. When the bidding time expires, the last bidder wins the item and also pays the final bid price. In many cases, the amount paid for the item is substantially lower than the retail price of the item. However, when you add the incremental fees paid for each bid you make to the final amount you will pay for the item, you may well have overpaid for the product. One other potential problem with this type of site is once you have registered to use the site, spammers have a confirmed email address for sending you more junk.
General Online Advertising: While there are thousands of companies advertising online today, there are as many who are offering fake online ads. The marketers are using videos and other marketing tools to make their ads appear as real as the legitimate ads. Before deciding to do business with a company online, it is very important to do some checking on the company before any money changes hands. Some of the questionable ads include:
* Apartment or home rentals
* New diet promotions or products, teeth whiteners, wrinkle cream
* Fake hotel reviews
* Work at home opportunities
* Job opportunities
* Fake online stores
* Puppy or pet sales
If you have encountered any of the dot.cons discussed during Cyber Security Awareness Month, you should report the fraud to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. This agency has a simple-to-complete form you can submit online. The information shared here will assist with the education of the public about cybercrimes.
Because there are so many variations to all the scams listed in the DOT.CON articles, not all of them could be described in detail. If you have a question about a cyber scam, please contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-472-2600.
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division investigates allegations of fraud in the marketplace. Investigators also mediate individual complaints against businesses. If you have a consumer problem or question, call the Consumer Protection Division at 328-3404, toll-free at 1-800-472-2600, or 1-800-366-6888 (w/TTY). This article and other consumer information is located on its website at www.ag.nd.gov.