Internet Scams Exposed

SCAM WATCH: Internet & SMS Scams - Phishing - Email Fraud

These emails and text messages are real examples of current scams. Learn to identify them. Please forward any scams you receive to Mark Hutten: They will be posted on this site without your email address.

What To Do If You Have Been Scammed

Have you lost money due to a scam?

Email: with a description of how the scam worked (i.e., what happened exactly), and we will try to (a) locate the scam artist(s), (b) work with law enforcement to expedite prosecution, and (c) help you get some - or all - of your money back.


Business Opportunity or "Work-at-Home" Schemes

Business opportunity or "Work-at-Home" schemes:

Con artists often use the Internet to advertise supposed business opportunities that allow individuals to earn thousands of dollars a month in "work-at-home" ventures. These schemes typically require the individuals to pay nominal to substantial sums for the "business plans" or other materials. The fraudsters then fail to deliver the promised materials, provide inadequate information to make a viable business, or provide information readily available for free or a substantially lower cost elsewhere.

In one such scheme, after paying a registration fee the victim will be sent advice on how to place ads, similar to the one that recruited him, in order to recruit others. This is a form of Ponzi scheme.

Another work-at-home scam involves kits to be assembled by the victim in their home. The victim pays a fee for the kit, but after assembling and returning the item, the scammer rejects it as substandard, refusing to reimburse the victim for the cost of the kit. Variations on this scam include work on directories, medical billing, data entry, or reading books for money.

Work-at-home donation processing—

An elaborate variation on this theme lures the victim with an e-mailed job offer from a fake company. The scammer may have constructed an elaborate website for the company, to make the offer appear legitimate. The job offer includes an unrealistically generous salary for part-time, unskilled labor. The main responsibility of this well-paying job is to be a middleman for "donations", supposedly intended for victims of a natural disaster.

The scammer then asks the victim for their bank account numbers, allegedly to deposit donations into the victim's account so that the victim can redistribute them. As part of the "hiring process", the fraudster also asks for the victim's Social Security number and date of birth.

With this information, the criminal monitors the victim's account balances. When a larger-than-normal amount appears in the bank account, such as a paycheck, the scammer drains the account.
Generally, the faked company website will locate the company in a different country from the scammer; this may be noticeable by inspecting the domain registration for the website, which may indicate the scammer's true country of origin. In addition, victims in Western countries are targeted using a Western-sounding pseudonym like "Timothy Scott", while the domain name is actually registered to a "Li Xiang".

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