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Internet Scams: Too Good To Be True




Dennis Helmke, Archbold Police officer, said the old rule of thumb is still the best: if an offer is too good to be true, it probably is.

The Internet has become a worldwide communication tool, for those with good intentions and bad.

Who has not received an email offering huge rewards for little or no work?

The Top 10

The Better Business Bureau has compiled a list of the 10 most common scams:

•Fake Checks: You receive a check or other negotiable money transfer in the mail, and you’re supposed to cash it, take a small amount, and return the rest; but the check is a forgery.

“If you do receive a check in the mail, check with your bank to make sure the check is good. If it is a forgery, you will be responsible for the check,” Helmke said.

In other words, you’re out the money.

•Fake government grants: you’re notified you’ve won a government grant, all you have to do is pay a “processing” fee; but there’s no grant, or you receive worthless application forms.

•Reshipping Scams: Foreign company asks you to inspect high-priced items, such as electronics, before shipping them overseas; the goods are stolen, or paid for with bogus credit cards. When police investigate, everything leads to you.

•International lotteries: you’re notified you’ve won a lottery, but you have to send your bank account number or information to receive payment and pay hundreds in taxes or customs fees, and there’s never any winnings.

•Phishing: Company sends you an alert that, due to a security problem, it needs to reconfirm your information or it will cut off your service; you’re asked to enter bank and other information, which thieves use to steal from you. Notices can look legitimate, but aren’t.

•Internet auction- Escrow: Item is put up for bid on an Internet auction; seller asks you to send money to an escrow company you never heard of, or you’re told the winning bidder backed out and you can buy the item. Item may not exist, or escrow company disappears and takes your money.

•Poor credit-advance fee loan: Get a credit card or loan, no matter what your credit; problem: you have to pay in advance, and all you get is a list of companies that issue credit cards, if anything.

•Pyramid-multilevel marketing/ gift clubs: Make thousands with little or no work, but you have to get in “on the ground floor.” You pay for marketing materials, then must recruit more distributors beneath you. It’s mathematically impossible for such schemes to work except for a few at the very top.

•Pump-and-dump investment tips: You get info about a fantastic stock opportunity; stock is about to take off, but you can still buy while price is low. In fact, stocks are worth very little; con artists buy the stock, pump up the price, take profits when they sell, and buyer is left holding the bag.

•Nigerian letters: Foreigner, often from West Africa, has unclaimed millions he is trying to hide from his government; or a dying person is looking for help distributing his/her wealth; they will give you a share if you help them. You’re asked for bank information, or they pull the fake check scam or other tricks.

All The Time

Helmke said Archbold police officers see these scams, or variations, all the time.

“What we do, we try to track them the best we can, but it only goes so far, and there’s nothing we can do. We can’t find the person on the other end,” he said.

Often, officers will notify law enforcement agencies in other cities; some cases have even been referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Just remember: if it is too go to be true, it probably is.


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