by National Consumers League staff
We’ve been working with NCL’s Fraud Center staff lately to crunch some data on fraud complaints from consumers in 2007, and what we’ve found is amazing! This week, the Savvy Consumer blog will bring you a series of highlights of what we tracked last year: the top scams in Internet and telemarketing, victim trends, locations of crooks, etc.
First things first: the Top 10 Internet Scams of 2007
- Fake Check Scams. Frauds in which consumers receive a realistic-seeming check from a crook as payment for something with instructions to wire a portion back. The scam has many variations, but the common thread is the wiring of money from a check that appears to be good but ultimately isn’t. We were involved in a massive educational effort on these scams last year.
- General Merchandise. Scams involving items purchased online that either never show up or aren’t as they were described.
- Auctions. Problems in online auctions, as reported by buyers, including items never being delivered, being a grossly different product, etc. Online auction fraud has been at or near the top of the list for years.
- Nigerian Money Offers. These “419” scams originated as letters but now commonly happen via email.
- Lotteries. Congratulations! You’ve won a foreign lottery and millions of fabulous dollars. All you have to do is pay us up-front for some processing fees.
- Advance Fee Loans/Credit Arrangers. Con artists target consumers who may have bad credit and are vulnerable to sketchy loan offers.
- Prizes/Sweepstakes/free gifts. See “lotteries” above.
- Phishing/Spoofing. We have an entire Web site devoted to this scam, wherein phishers seek personal financial information from consumers in order to perpetrate ID theft.
- Sweetheart Swindles. We blogged about this one recently. When Cupid strikes consumers in these scams, they end up with a broken heart and empty wallet; criminals pose as lovebirds, cultivate relationships, and make a plea for financial help.
- Internet Access Services. Scams surrounding email, Web site building, or Internet connection services.
Future blog: Top Telemarketing Scams of 2007