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Online Scams, Fraud and Phishing

According to the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission, current Internet fraud/online scam schemes include:

Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks

A counterfeit cashier’s check scheme can target individuals who attempt to sell merchandise through classified advertisements. As part of the scheme, an interested party will attempt to provide a cashier’s check for an amount greater than the sales price and the seller is told to send the excess amount to a “shipper.” Variations of the scheme will have the sender of the cashier’s check claim that the amount was sent in error and will request the seller to send the excess funds back.

After the counterfeit cashier’s check has been deposited into the seller’s bank account, it will later be returned unpaid, resulting in the check amount being deducted from the seller’s account. If the seller shipped the merchandise for sale or withdrew any “available funds” from the check, the seller will have lost that merchandise or money.

If you believe you may have fallen victim to such a scam, you can file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or contact your local police department.

Credit/Debit Card Fraud

Credit or debit card fraud is considered the unauthorized use of card information to fraudulently obtain money or property.

Credit or debit card information can be stolen in various ways, such as from unsecured websites, skimming or finding a lost card. It is important for individuals to monitor their bank accounts and report any unauthorized transactions to their bank and local police department.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the possession or use of identifying information of another person, without that person’s consent, for financial gain or to further any unlawful purpose. Skilled thieves have a variety of ways to obtain your personal information including: stealing your mail (i.e. bank and credit card statements, tax information, new checks or credit card offers), phishing online or completing a change of address form to divert your mail. Click here for more information on identity theft prevention and protection

Lottery Scams

Lottery scam victims receive an e-mail informing them that they are the winner of an international lottery. The victims are asked to pay fees "to begin their lottery claim." If you believe you are a victim of a lottery scam, please file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center

Nigerian Letter or “419” Scams

Nigerian Letter or "419" fraud involves the recipient of a letter or e-mail being offered an "opportunity" to share in millions of dollars the sender is attempting to transfer out of Nigeria. The recipient is asked to share their personal information, including bank account numbers, and to pay taxes, legal fees, and more that would be reimbursed once the money is out of Nigeria. These millions of dollars do not exist and in the end, the victims of these schemes lose out on money and are subject to identity theft. 

If you receive a letter or e-mail from Nigeria, contact the U.S. Secret Service, your local FBI office, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service or register a complaint with the FTC Complaint Assistant.

Online Dating Scams

Online dating scams are an additional threat that has become more prominent in recent years. Click here for tips on how to avoid online dating scams

Phishing/Spoofing

Phishing is the act of sending a forged or fake e-mail in an attempt to get sensitive, personal information from the victim. Spoofing is the distribution of an e-mail forged to appear as though it's coming from another source. If you believe you are a victim of phishing or spoofing, please file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center
 

Additional References

For additional information on scams or fraud prevention information, visit any of the following resources:
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