How To Spot An Online Scam

How many of you have been scammed?  Do you know what to look for?  Can you spot it when someone is trying to scam you?  If you are trying to figure out how to spot an online scam maybe the information that follows will help.

Scams have been around for longer than you may think.  We can look back to the 18th century to find similar scams like the modern day scams of today.  Of course email was not used to make contact with the target but the end game was the same – money.spanish prisoner scam

Spanish Prisoner Scam

The Spanish Prisoner scam is one of those scams that dates back to the 18th century.  A businessman or wealthy person would be contacted and told that for a price they would smuggle someone who is connected to the family out of a prison in Spain.  Of course he would also need money to bribe the prison guards.  Sound familiar?

Nowadays, thanks to the internet, the cost of doing scams has been lowered quite a bit.

Although many of us believe that the majority of scams originate from Nigeria statistics show that in 2006, 61% of internet criminals were found to be in the United States.

How successful are online scammers?

It is hard to know exactly how successful online scammers are since they are operating illegally and trying to stay below the radar.  Information from some scammers say they may send up to 500 emails a day and out of that receive 7 replies.  The scammer stated with only those 7 replies that he was about 70 percent sure he would be getting money.

Now statistically speaking that is not a very high success rate but factor into what little time and effort went into sending these emails and assume a roomful of people are doing this, it does become very lucrative.

Signs of a Scam

One sure sign of a scam is a very unrealistic promise.  For example you get an email promising you, for a very low price, everything you need to start earning thousands of dollars a day.  The great thing about this scam(for the scammer) is that the price is low enough that most people will not even report it.  Say he is asking $19.95 one time fee.  He sends this out to 2000 people and just 50 people buy.  He has just made almost $1000.00  Because of the low price not many people will even bother asking for a refund.

Here is another one.  You receive an email claiming you have won a lottery.  Usually the winnings are in the millions.  Unfortunately this lottery is located in a foreign country so there are some taxes and fees that need to be paid upfront before you can get your winnings.  Think about this – Did you buy a lottery ticket?  Did you enter some online lottery?  Probably not.  Anytime money is asked for upfront then your spidey senses should be going off.

how to spot an online scam
how to spot an online scam

You have seen the urgency emails.  You know the ones that state this product won’t be here much longer.  You need to buy now or totally lose out.  In most cases you can go back in a couple of days and the product or information will still be there.

We have all seen the emails from PayPal.  They tell you that something is wrong with your account and you need to send them your account info to get it straightened out.  The best thing to do is send a copy of this email to paypal.  Paypal never asks for this type of information and when you get an email asking for it they do want you to send it to them.  This helps them to put a stop to these scammers.

Another online scam to be very wary of happens on online dating sites.  Even though the dating site might be legit not all of its members are.  The American government refers to this scam as Boris and Natasha.  As you may suspect it originates in Russia and their targets are middle-age lonely men and gay men.  They build up a relationship with their target and then after time they start asking for money.  First it is just for little things.  As they get their hooks in deeper they start asking for larger sums of money.  The scam usually ends when the target realizes what is happening or when they run out of money.  Most times they are not even talking to a Natasha but a Boris.  When they find out the truth most times these men are too embarrassed to even talk about it.

Another sign of an online scam is the way the letter you receive is written.  Often the email you receive is poorly written and has a lot of spelling errors.  The best thing to do with that type of email is send it to your spam box.

This was a recent scam by someone posing as Canada Post.  They were sending emails supposedly from Canada Post that said something to the effect there is a problem with a package and they wanted you to click on a zipped file to check it out.  Not having sent out a package or not expecting a package I went to the Canada Post site and right at the top of their page they had a warning about the emails.  Anytime you receive an unexpected email from a well known corporation check it out, never open it.  The advantage of the zipped file for the scammer is they can send you any type of file they want.  Files with the ending of .exe are normally blocked by your email however when zipped the file will get through.  These types of file sent by a scammer are usually some type of malware, so again do not open.

online scams
online scams

The one thing that online scams have in common is they are playing with people’s emotions.  Deep down we know we haven’t won a lottery, we know that a $19.95 product is not going to makes us millionaires, we know that the hot chick or guy emailing us wouldn’t gives us the time of day but we also have a strong belief that basically all people are good.

In order to learn how to spot an online scam it is an awful thing to say but we need to become very cynical and mistrusting.  Anytime we get an unfamiliar email we need to assume that it could be a scam.  Do not open anything until you do your homework and know for sure that it is safe.

For people who are trying to run an online business and do get a lot of emails you need to be especially vigilante.  Although it can be time consuming to diligently go through all your emails it could save you a lot of time down the road.

If you are trying to avoid being scammed and want to learn how to earn money online legitimately then you need to check out Wealthy Affiliate.  Wealthy Affiliate has been around for over 10 years and you can sign up for free.  It is a community of people who all have the same goal and that is to successfully earn money online and to help each other learn how to make money online.  Check it out – What do you have to lose?


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    • Susan Ray
    • August 31, 2016

    That was great information about the different scams and how they work. Half of them I didn’t even know about myself. Thank you for the warnings and how to spot them. Think twice before clicking on anything! Especially like the ones you can make money for free but have to click on offers and remember to cancel them in 30 days.

      • Maureen
      • September 1, 2016

      Thanks for your comment Susan. The thing about scams is they are always changing. Scammers know how to draw people in and they are always coming up with new and ingenious ways to do it. Too bad they wouldn’t put their smarts to something useful and beneficial.

    • David
    • August 31, 2016

    I agree that we need to become a little cynical to survive these days and avoid being taken by the “too good to be true” internet scams. We recently had a request from a local sale post wanting to send a check, and arrange for pickup, but then there were hoops to jump through because they were sending more money than we had asked. My red alert flag went up and we were able to avoid that. Wealthy Affiliate has a great program and I especially love the support and team environment. Thanks for your post!

      • Maureen
      • September 1, 2016

      Hi David I am glad your red flag went up on that one. More than likely the check would have bounced but only after you had sent them back the over payment. Some people will go to great lengths for a scam.

    • Alexey
    • August 31, 2016

    Hey there you’ve nailed it on those scams. I had a good read – It’s nice to read a bit about where scams were originated, and where they come from these days.
    If you are an experienced marketer (I say at least 6 months into this industry) you are pretty good at detecting scams. But mainly we get them through email.. I receieve around 5 mails a day to my inbox from various sources offering me to boost rank, and improve this and that.. Simply ignore them.

      • Maureen
      • September 1, 2016

      Hi Alex ignoring those pesky emails is the best thing that you can do but sometimes when you keep receiving the same ones over and over again it can be tempting. The zipped emails are the worst since they can hid lots of evil things like malware etc

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