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“I’ll Make You Rich” – Scammers & Their Tricks

May 16th, 2007 by rosie · 3 Comments


In researching for another article, I became acutely aware of how easily regular people will fall for a scam. I’m not talking about frail elderly retirees pressured into investing in some fraudulent business by a sleaze-ball con-artist, as has been known to happen. I am talking about otherwise worldly and informed, intelligent regular Joe’s and Jane’s who get conned into coughing up their hard-earned dough for the “once-in-a-life-time” opportunity or some other false promises.

Whether or not you become victim in a scam has little to do with your intelligence. Confidence tricks are designed to exploit human weaknesses, like greed, dishonesty, and vanity; but also virtues like honesty, compassion, or the naive trust in the goodness of mankind. There are scams designed to trick humanitarians who genuinely want to help others; there are scams that swindle those desperately looking for a miracle; there are scams specific to tourists; and there are scams tailored for those who just want to make some money. No matter the target, most cons have the same tell-tale signs.

If you google the term “scam” or “con artist” you will find hundreds of pages of information about scammers and their practices, ranging from false religious claims to get-rich-quick schemes. And if you are looking to go into business, you may be especially susceptible to misleading “opportunities”. So before you invest in some too-good-to-be-true opportunity, familiarize yourself with the characteristics of a con and make sure you aren’t being had.

1. Vagueness. There’s a profusion of work-from-home scams that never tell you exactly who you will be working for or what you will be doing. Just check out the Craig’s List “ETC” or “PART TIME” listings under jobs and you will see vague job descriptions with promises of easy money. Or you may catch an infomercial showing people who are making loads of money so easily but never say what they do. If you come across any opportunity that only offers a vague hint of what you will be doing or who you will be working for, chances are very high that it’s a scam.

2 . Too-Good-to-be-True. This entire phrase came about for the very reason that if something is too good to be true, then it’s got to be a scam. There is no legitimate business opportunity (or any type of opportunity, like romance or health) that does not require some sort of effort. When it comes to investing in a business, there is always some sort of risk. When it comes to success in any venture, there will always be effort involved. You will not make millions of dollars by sitting back and doing nothing from the comfort of your own home! Beware of promises of easy money, fast money, effortless success, outrageous returns on an investment, instant results, miracles, etc.

3. Now or Never. If someone demands money on the spot or claims it’s a limited time offer, go ahead and pass because it’s nothing but a swindle. In a legitimate and honest situation, you would be allowed to do your research and think about it and not be pressured into make a big investment on the fly. This includes any business opportunity but also most purchases.

4. The Secret. Again, when you are told to keep quiet about a transaction or business opportunity, it’s most likely a scam. You really haven’t stumbled upon a lucrative secret that only a few select know about; you’re being had. The secrecy is designed to make you feel special, keep others from warning you, and making it hard for the law to catch up with the thief. There aren’t real legitimate secret money-making methods in the stock market, in real estate, or the internet. Legitimate opportunities do not need to hide in secrecy to work.

5. You were “Found.” This wonderful opportunity presented itself to you, seemingly by chance or good fortune. A.K.A unsolicited communication, like the now infamous Nigerian scams. When it’s time for you to go into business (or donate to a charity, or do something about your health), you need to research and make an informed choice. Money doesn’t just drop from the sky, no matter how lucky you may be. So avoid those unsolicited solicitations, including the Nigerian scams, most bulk e-mail, chain letters, etc.

6. Free Stuff. Nothing is free in this world. That includes iPods, laptops, and Hawaiian vacations! If you see such a claim, turn the other way. Otherwise you’re likely to have to “join” some “club” and get involved in a pyramid scheme, or end up paying money anyway for a transaction fee, shipping fee, upgrade, or some other reason related to your “free” item.

7. Paying Money. Wait! While it’s true that it takes money to make money and that money is needed in any business start-up or investment, there are times when paying money is nothing but a scam. For example, there are work-at-home scams that require you to pay to be an employee (supposedly to cover training materials). Or the website that requires you to join and pay for worthless information- like how not to be scammed and find a legitimate easy-money internet business! You should never have to pay to become an employee of any reputable company, and watch out for people selling worthless information or bogus opportunities. This includes paying money to invest into a fake business opp, like envelope stuffing and medical billing businesses.

8. The Usual Suspects. Surprisingly, people still fall for these common cons even though they are known to be cons! Pyramid schemes, MLM, envelope stuffing, miracle pills (health and diet scams), credit repair or guaranteed loans, etc. Some of these can be dressed up to look legitimate, but any careful look will quickly reveal they ain’t nothin’ but a scam!

Anyone can fall prey to a scam artist: the con artist is a clever professional, and the scams often look legitimate until you look at the fine print. Always use caution when making any financial transaction or investing in any business and most of all, know what to watch out for.

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    Tags: Advice & Inspiration · Money Management




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    3 Comments

    Comment by Maritza
    2007-05-16 18:03:10

    Each time I advertise, the first to respond are the scammers. I laugh at them and wonder how they can still get people to pay them money, or even read about what they have to say, when all this information is being provided all over the internet by one website or another. I know of someone who went to jail because of getting a an internet “job”. He was the only contact for people to find when their ordered-paid for-merchandise was never delivered. I guess we will never have enough articles like this one!

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    Comment by shawn
    2007-05-16 18:45:23

    Scammers sure are persistent, and they seem to be everywhere: kinda like cockroaches. Glad you’re wise to them – but it’s too bad about the guy you know of who went to jail. Anyway, I am doing a post soon documenting how I BS’d a Nigerian 419 scammer. Good times were had by all – stay tuned. :)

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    Comment by Rosie
    2007-05-16 18:53:42

    Frankly, I am surprised at how many there are, how they operate in broad daylight and in spite of all the warnings, and how people STILL become victims. It’s virtually impossible to have any kind of website, business, or even mailing address that they don’t try to weasel some money out of. I listed some furniture for sale on Craig’s List, and got several “interested buyers” who lived oversees and wanted to trick me in some sort of wire transfer scam. They’re a brazen bunch!

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