Some scams are very easy to spot while other scams may appear to be genuine offers or bargains. Scams can even take place without you doing anything at all.
Most scams need you to do something before they can work. You may send money to someone based on a promise that turns out to be false. You may give your personal details to people who turn out to be scammers. Some scams rely on you agreeing to deals without getting advice first or buying a product without checking it out properly.
A scam looks like the real thing. To find out that it is in fact a scam, you must first make the effort to check it properly. You need to ask questions and think carefully before you decide what to do. Depending on the issue, you can decide if something is a scam on the spot, or you might need help or to obtain independent advice —and that could take several days.
Common scams include phishing/spoofing, investment scams, dating and romance scams and identity theft;
- “Phishing” or “spoofing” is a type of scam whereby a perpetrator sends fraudulent emails or other communications that appear to have come from legitimate companies in an effort to “phish” for personal information such a person’s address, telephone number or banking details. Recipients are generally redirected to a fake website and asked to enter personal information which is subsequently used for fraudulent purposes.
- Advance Fee Fraud Scams are when fraudsters target victims to make advance payments for services, investments and/or promise financial gains which do not materialise.
- Dating and Romance scams can be very elaborate hoaxes, sometimes taking years to develop and run by experienced criminal syndicates. Fraudsters often approach their victims on legitimate dating websites before attempting to move the ‘relationship’ away from the safeguards that these sites put in place; communicating through other methods such as email, where they can more easily manipulate victims. The fraudsters develop a strong connection with the victim before asking for money to help cover costs associated with a supposed illness, injury, family crisis, travel costs or to pursue a business or investment opportunity.
- Identity theft is a type of fraud that involves the theft of your personal information including your name, date of birth, address and other details. Fraudsters then use this information to proceed with the following; open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, start an illegal business or even apply for a drivers licence.
- Investment fraud is a deceptive practice in the stock or commodities markets that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses which is in violation of securities laws. Offers of risky investment opportunities to unsophisticated investors who are unable to evaluate risk adequately and cannot afford loss of capital is a central problem. There are many different types of investment scams including, but not limited to; Ponzi schemes, Boiler rooms, “pump and dump”, Pyramid schemes and 'Nigerian 419' scams.
If you think you may have been approached by or fallen victim to a fraudster, please report the matter to local police.