Frauds and scams are always around but in certain times, like what we are experiencing now, the fraudsters recognize there is an opportunity for more success because we are likely distracted by other concerns.
What are the most prevalent types of scams right now?
The first is fraudulent deposits or the money mule scam. Another common scam is threatening criminal charges unless a person pays a fine over the phone. The third is paying for something that doesn’t materialize. All three can be about getting money from the victim, access to financial accounts and even identity theft.
How does the money mule scam usually work?
It can take many forms but most of the time it involves either a job offer or if you are a self-employed individual, being offered a lucrative contract. The scam artist then sends you checks and ask you to deposit and return a portion to them. The problem is that the checks are fraudulent and eventually the victim will be required to make up all of the money that they withdrew.
Are there other ways the money mule scam can be perpetrated?
A new version of the scam is the romance angle – a person starts an online relationship. The scam artist then convinces the victim that they need them to deposit a large check for some reason and sends them the funds. The check of course will be returned and the victim is out a considerable amount of money.
What are the common ways the criminal charges fraud happens?
Usually it is a phone call but it could also be an email. The caller or email identifies themselves as being from the IRS, Medicaid or some other governmental agency. They will threaten arrest unless the victim pays a fine with credit card while on phone or answers the email within a very short period of time.
How does fraudulent assistance usually present itself?
Right now two of the biggest involve promises for helping people get access to a lottery winning or help them get a stimulus check if they haven’t received it yet. The scammer asks for the victim to send money to be used to pay their “taxes” on their winnings or stimulus check. They may keep asking for additional funds in the case of the lottery winner because of the promise of a large payout that never materializes.
What are the best ways to avoid becoming a victim of a fraud or scam?
Constant awareness of the current frauds and scams is important. You can get information from the FTC, the office of Inspector General, state Attorney General offices and other consumer groups who send out alerts all of the time. You should also learn that you can be trusting as long as you verify. Finally, don’t be pressured and make quick decisions based on fear because the more you research the more likely you will uncover the truth.