The newly formed Scam Awareness Alliance hopes to reduce the effectiveness of scams by spotlighting the tricks and scenarios that fraudsters use.
The site highlights scams that are currently in wide use including:
- The Charity Scam
- The Fake Loan Scam
- The Mystery Shopper Scam
- The Lottery or Sweepstakes Scam
- The Romance Scam
- The Vehicle Purchase Scam
- The Internet Purchase Scam
- The Newspaper Ad Scam
- The Check or Money Order Scam
For the most part you can deduce what these scams are about simply from their names. The charity scam, for instance, tries to take advantage of our instinct to do good for others in need. They are phony charities often set up after a natural disaster like an earthquake, flood, tornado, or after a national tragedy.
Most of the other scams are ones offering employment, or prizes, but require you pay some sort of advanced fee; or offer something for sale at an unbelievably good price (need I remind of the old adage 'if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.')
The "Romance Scam," is pretty much as the name indicates. Says the Alliance:
The scam may begin with a situation such as this: You become emotionally involved with someone you have never met, but have been communicating with through an Internet dating site or by email. Your "love interest" may tell you they need you to send money to them so they can move closer to you, or come to your city to visit you. You might want to believe them, but be aware; it could also be a scam. It's bad enough that these scammers take advantage of your emotions, but they can also defraud you out of a lot of money - and that can make things even worse.
Here, the Alliance says, are some common "red flags" that may indicate a scam. If someone:
- You don't know asks you to wire money to them
- Asks you to deposit a check and send them back a portion of the money
- Pretends to be a friend or relative claiming to be in a crisis, and asks you to wire money to them right away
- Tells you you've won a prize or contest that you don't remember entering, and asks you to wire money to pay fees, taxes, or customs to receive your prize
You are excused if you're thinking 'who could fall for once of these?' But the Financial Fraud Research Center, in "Scams Schemes & Swindles," estimated that fraud cost Americans in 21011 over $50 billion - that's billion with a "B;" and things are not getting any better.
The Scam Awareness Alliance has been started by the people at MoneyGram, and it points out that one common thread at the heart of many of these scams is they ask the potential victim to make payment via a money transfer. The Alliance says "our purpose is to provide tips and information to help people recognize the red flags and protect themselves and those they care about from scammers."