The Little Black Book of Scams: no matter what type of scam, here are eight common features to be on the lookout for

This is the final chapter in the Little Black Book of Scams. You can find all the previous chapters we published in this series here.


Learn to recognise the signs that something is amiss.

WIRE TRANSFER

Many scams involve a request to wire money electronically using a money transfer service, like MoneyGram, Western Union, or using cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin.

Remember that sending a transfer through these services is like sending cash - once the amount is picked up, it’s almost impossible to get your money back.

OVERPAYMENT

When you’re selling something - especially online - be wary of how you get paid.

A fraudster may send you a counterfeit cashier’s, personal or corporate cheque in an amount in excess of what they owe. You’ll be asked to deposit the cheque and wire the excess funds immediately back to them. Once your bank realises the cheque is a fake, you’ll be on the hook for the money withdrawn.

SPELLING MISTAKES

Be sceptical of emails, messages or websites that contain misspelled common words; grammar errors that make it difficult to read or expressions that are used incorrectly.

Email and web addresses should also be examined closely to see if there are subtle mistakes or differences.

PERSONAL INFORMATION REQUEST

Fraudsters may ask potential victims to provide more personal or financial information than is required for the transaction or discussion. Be suspicious if someone asks for copies of your passport, driver’s licence or birth date, especially if you don’t know the person.

UNSOLICITED CALLS

You might get a call from someone claiming that you have a virus on your computer, you owe taxes or there has been fraudulent activity in your bank account. Hang up and call the organisation yourself using the number from a trustworthy source, such as the phone book, their website, or even invoices and account statements.

UNSOLICITED FRIEND REQUESTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know until you review their profile or ask your real-life friends if they know them. Does their profile look fairly empty or have posts that are very generic? Do they seem to be promising more than friendship? These are some red flags that point to a scam. Delete that request and block future ones.

ASTOUNDING MAIL OFFERS

You received a scratchie card in the mail. It guarantees you will or have already won. Prizes might range from money to cars and trips. If you have not entered a contest, throw that card away. It’s probably a scam.

IT’S JUST TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Everybody loves a great deal. But shocking offers, unbelievable discounts and unreal rates may signal that the offer isn’t quite what it seems. Cheap prices usually equal cheap products, or counterfeit goods. Free offers may require providing your credit card for shipping. Small tactics like these can lead to big profits for scammers.


Words of wisdom from NZ Police

Prevention is the only effective way to avoid losing money through scams. Do not send money to anyone you may have met on social media but not met in person, or to any person or organisation who emails you asking for money.

If you do send money and think you’ve been scammed, you must contact your bank immediately. Once this action has been taken, you can contact your local police, Netsafe or CERT to lodge your complaint.

The sooner your loss is reported to your bank, and then to law enforcement, the better.

All complaints to police are assessed in the same way and prioritised. But members of the public must be realistic - if you do not check things out carefully before sending money offshore, and then discover you’ve been a victim of fraud, there is little chance you will recover your money, and little chance that the offenders will be apprehended or that anyone will be held accountable. Often, all police can do is share intelligence with our partner agencies offshore.

Acceptance of this loss is key in moving on with your life, rather than trying to make someone accountable.

Remember, the best way to avoid being scammed is to stop before you start:

DO NOT send money to anyone you have not met in person, and trust.


*The full booklet is here. This chapter is re-posted with permission. You can also watch a video interview with the Commission for Financial Capability's fraud education manager Bronwyn Groot here.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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6 Comments

One of the nasty scams in the UK was via an email from your lawyer giving new bank account details when transferring the deposit for a house. The hackers got into the lawyer's computers so it actually was from there. The bank account was the hacker's. They waited until just before the deposit was due before sending the new bank account details by reading the lawyer's email...

Oh dear Roger. I have had a few changes of bank account number given to me recently. Must think very hard now.

Also from the UK - tenant changing their name to the owner by deed poll and then selling the house.

https://www.ft.com/content/b195fb02-2fde-11e7-9555-23ef563ecf9a

Add to this: People from high school you barely knew adding you as friends only to hawk their new multi-level marketing scheme at you.

and look at plain text version of html emails.
Html will show "ASB.co.nz" but the plain test will show something totally different maybe with ".ru" suffix or whatever

One of the thousands of scams is when a "Land Agent' guesses what a customers house should sell for, adds on 30%, then compounds this by 4%, then awaits customers to bid up the figure, as another cost is added when they talk you into going to Auction..... It does not matter what the eventual sale price will be, except to the so called "Buyer", as they get their piece of the action/Auction...then they repeat this as often as possible, aided by their cohorts Banks, who con-jour up the money from nowt. thereby blowing up ballooning costs to muggins on the ladder to Property Heaven.

That this is allowed is criminal. That this is perpetuated, is Fraud, sometimes called a Ponzi.

When an Australian does it, it is called...Legal....When a Government does it is called QE./Gotcha.

When XI does it it is called.............Normal. ...Just getting my own back.