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The 6 most common scam schemes in the US: how to protect yourself

What is a scam? The generally accepted definition implies that this is any kind of illegal criminal transaction, as a result of which the victim is deprived of his funds or confidential information. One of the common features of fraud is that the perpetrator often takes advantage of the stress, panic, or anxiety situation the victim is in. This makes a person more vulnerable, which means it is easier to use, writes Forbes.

Photo: Shutterstock

Now there is a new bait that the victims of scammers are pecking at - the coronavirus pandemic. In March, Interpol announced that it had arrested 121 criminals in 90 countries for COVID-19 fraud. The scams included the sale of fake surgical masks, substandard hand sanitizers, and fake antiviral drugs. But other common types of fraud are thriving at this time.

The publication cites several of the most common fraudulent schemes as an example. Scammers use these methods to commit crimes against both individuals and companies.

1. Charity fraud

This type of fraud occurs when a criminal tries to take advantage of someone's misfortune or need for their own benefit. Legitimate charities often ask for donations using the same methods as scammers, so pinpointing the latter can be difficult - but possible.

To avoid such fraud, study the background of any charitable organization that you plan to donate. Check if the charity is registered and has received any complaints. Keep in mind that fraudulent charities often have names that seem legitimate. Finally, avoid high-pressure tactics that require immediate donations, especially if the request comes from an unfamiliar charity.

2. Cyber ​​fraud

Cyber ​​fraud occurs when a criminal uses the Internet to trick victims. More often than not, this looks like a very realistic business email or a document sent to convince a victim to pay a criminal. In other cases, the perpetrator may force the victim to provide confidential information or download malware onto his computer.

Be sure to carefully check the email address of any addressee and the company requesting payment: criminals often use email addresses that look like legitimate ones (for example, from well-known stores or brands). If a letter or document contains spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors, then this is a sign of phishing. Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown sources.

On the subject: Be careful: how scammers profit from panic due to coronavirus

One way to test a link or email without clicking is to hover your mouse over the URL to see where it leads. Also, be wary of seemingly harmless social media quizzes that suggest flagging your favorite movie, dish, or other personal questions. The answers provided can be used by scammers to access financial accounts or online accounts.

3. Upfront fraud

This type of fraud assumes that the victim pays an advance payment for a product or service, and then receives something insignificant (and often nothing at all) in return. As a fee, you can call a membership fee, administrative fee or even tax. Requests can refer to “found money” or “inherited money”. They can also be in the form of an offer of profitable work at home. In such cases, the victims sign up for the sale of goods such as detergents or weight loss products, but before they can start selling, they must pay the entry fee for the initial equipment and training materials.

Do your own checks to make sure the business is legal and in good standing and that there are no serious complaints about it. The FBI recommends caution about any business that operates without a mailbox on the official domain or requires you to sign a non-disclosure agreement that does not allow you to independently verify the reputation of the person with whom you plan to conduct business.

4. Fraud on behalf of the government

This scam occurs when the victim receives a call from someone posing as a government agent. The perpetrator creates a sense of urgency by demanding money or personal information immediately so you can “keep the law”.

Be suspicious of any calls claiming to have come from a government agency asking for money or information, because real government agencies will never do that. You can verify the identity of the caller by asking his name and department, and then hanging up and calling the official number of the government agency to find out about this person. Never trust the caller ID, because this information can be tampered with.

5. Fraud with federal aid due to coronavirus

As the WITN, New Bern, North Carolina police warned of a new type of fraud. One of the local residents received a text message with the following words: “Your federal assistance is awaiting confirmation. You must accept it no later than midnight ”with a link by which the person was invited to go.

First of all, the word “midnight” was misspelled (You must accept no later than midnlght - original). Errors like these are a clear sign that something is wrong, and most likely a scam.

It is important to remember that the IRS will always contact you directly regarding your taxes or federal aid for the coronavirus. The only reliable way to check the status of your check is to go to IRS.gov.

On the subject: In the United States, a new type of fraud associated with COVID-19: how to protect yourself

6. Fake Quarantine Adoption Pages

Site WSBT reports another type of fraud that has intensified during the quarantine - one of the most unexpected! It turned out that scammers all over the country are targeting those who are looking for a furry friend in quarantine. The police are urging people to be careful.

The Fraud.org project tracks fraud at the national level. During the pandemic, fraud generally increased by 79%. Pet adoption scams are 42% more likely than last year.

During a pandemic, the number of people wishing to take a pet from a shelter increased sharply. But, unfortunately, where there are good intentions, there are people who want to take advantage of this.

The essence of the scam is simple: fake websites or pages on social networks publish cute photos of dogs or cats.

“The accounts look real, they talk to you, they respond like a regular seller, but when it comes time to pick up the pet, they charge a commission,” said Michigan Police Sergeant Francisco Rodriguez.

They also ask for vaccination fees and even promise COVID-safe delivery. In a couple of days, you will receive an email or a call from them stating that your animal is stuck in Houston, Miami or somewhere else, far from you. To send it, you need to pay extra for the delivery process: you will need another $ 100 or $ 200.

Experts recommend submitting applications for animals only at reputable adoption agencies and their official social networks. During a pandemic, potential adoptive parents must apply online and be tested before making an appointment. No one will send you a dog in an online correspondence meeting. And do not pay money until you see a dog or cat in real life, or at least get serious evidence that the animal exists and you really get it, experts advise.

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