The Audacity: X Scams You Won’t Believe Actually Work

( – Long before the internet, criminals looked for ways to separate people from their money. Some used elaborate cons, while others worked simple flim-flams and got away scot-free. The information age has brought us many wonderful technologies, but it’s also made scams easier to perpetrate on the unsuspecting. Let’s look at a few examples and ways consumers can protect themselves.

  1. Puppy Love: In the Puppy Scam, a scammer will post an ad with a picture of an adorable pet available for immediate adoption, posing as a breeder, a rescue, or a loving pet owner forced into giving up their beloved pet under trying circumstances. They’ll ask for an adoption fee and shipping charges but only accept wire transfers or instant funding methods as payment. Beware!

Be sure to ask for multiple pictures of the animal with specific items to verify the pet’s existence. Ask for the phone numbers of the seller and the vet who treats the animal. If the seller or rescue is outside the US, walk away. Pay via methods allowing consumers to dispute transactions later, like credit cards.

  1. Phoning Home for Cash: Sometimes called the Grandparent Scam, it often targets older people who are less savvy technically. Using social media posts as research, a con artist will email or phone someone pretending they are a relative or friend who has taken a trip abroad and become a victim of theft. They might ask the target to wire money to help them pay their outstanding hotel bill and expenses and get home safely. They emphasize the urgency and drama of the situation.

Prepare by setting up a password that only family members know for emergencies. Otherwise, verify identity by asking a question only the relative would know. Make sure it’s something that isn’t posted online as trivia. Slow things down and don’t react to the scammer’s sense of urgency and emergency. Call the relative or friend directly and ask questions before taking any action; don’t wait for them to call back.

  1. Fake Antivirus Scams: Annoying, flashy pop-ups scream across the screen, telling users dangerous viruses have infected their computers. The pop-ups advertise fake antivirus software. Worse, the scammers sometimes introduce viruses and trojan horse software, giving them access to the victim’s computer. When the target calls for customer service, the scammer can also gain access to passwords, credit cards, and even bank accounts. Act proactively to protect your computer with antivirus software from a legitimate vendor. Users can check reviews and industry sources to find the best fit for their needs. Legitimate software won’t flash across the screen or lock-up functionality.

Knowledge is always the consumer’s best weapon against fraud. The Federal Trade Commission is a good starting point to learn more because it maintains a database about scams and ways to avoid them.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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