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How to Avoid Being a Prey to Scammers

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

cybercriminals Internet is one of the greatest inventions of our time but like any other good stuff, it is prone to abuse by unscrupulous individuals.  In 2012 alone, IC3/FBI had processed a total of 289,874 internet crime complaints or around 24,000 complaints a month.  As buyers, you have to consider several factors before parting with your hard-earned money. These are some of the most common internet fraud employed by criminals nowadays:

  1. Pet scam.  The scheme is to give away a pet (or any product) but when you contact them, they will tell you that the pet needs to pass Customs and needs you to send in money to them for processing.  Some are also asking money for shipping costs.  In the end, unsuspecting individuals send money but their pets don’t arrive to their homes.

   Here is a sample of a pet scammer response when you contact them:

“thanks for your responds in regards to my male and female puppies these babies are two in number by names Cindy and Carol they are lovely and they need a new and caring home that will love and take very good care of them below are some details about my baby puppies

 Age : 11 weeks

Sex : Male and Female

Any Health problems : No

Champion bloodline :yes

Temperament & Personality: Perfect temperament and associates with kids and other home pets.

Registered/registrable, Current vaccinations, Veterinarian examination, Health certificate, Health guarantee, Pedigree , travel crate

One of the main reasons why i giving out my beautiful babies is because i lost my ten year old son  called Gabriel , he died due to a motor accident . the pets were bought for him as birthday presents but since i lost him i had to relocate so as to forget about his past memories and now the babies are lonely there is no one to play care and be with them since my son is death , and secondly the nature of my job will not allow me take very good care of them they are home alone that is why i need a home to give them out who will promise me that they will love and take very good care of them but before we proceed  i will like to know the following things from you to be sure the babies are going to a good and caring home:

 1) where are you located ?

2) have you owned pets before?

3) do you have experience with pets ?

4) do you need the male , female or both ?

5) do you have other home pets ?

6) specify what breed you are interested in?

 please do not feel uncomfortable with the question i just want to be sure i am making the right home and choice for my babies”

Always remember that not so many people will give away their licensed pedigree pets, so be vigilant on these types of ads. Generally, if the advertiser asks for money to be sent via Western Union, Money Gram, GreenDot MoneyPak number or mentions Cameroon it is a scam.

  1. Phishing.  This is not a misspelled word but is a computing term defined as “the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, online.”  Before you click links on emails sent to you by anyone, check the spelling of the website (normally at the bottom of the browser when you mouse-over) so as not to be redirected to a fake website.  Fake websites which look exactly the same as the real ones are normally used by criminals to get your username and password and gain access to your account.  The email will also look legitimate with the valid email address but it could be a counterfeit.  Never give your personal information to anyone via email, not even to Claseek.
  2. Vehicle scam.  Advertising scam – the scheme is to sell a stolen vehicle.  Purchasing scam – the scheme is to pay the down payment and afterwards do a “test drive” without coming back.
  3. Rental scam.  The scheme is to advertise a room or house for rent and ask for a deposit.  During move-in time, the poor tenant is faced by a different person from the one who took the money.  Apparently, the guy who took the rent used to be the tenant who was about to move out to another place.
  4. Western Union or MoneyGram scam.  The scheme is to use apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, and other high value items as bait.  These scams often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money —this is FALSE, once you’ve wired the money, it is GONE.  Deals often seem too good to be true, price is too low, or rent is below market.
  5. Escrow scam.  Claseek does not offer buyer protection (escrow service) at the moment.  If you receive a mail from us saying that we guarantee your transactions, that is fake.
  6. Work from home scam.  Some (NOT all) work from home opportunities are fronts for money laundering.  A key warning sign should be any “job” that involves you receiving cheques and cashing them.  These jobs are sometimes referred to as “money mules”.  Another warning sign is a job that doesn’t require a face to face interview.  Other work from home offers can be pyramid schemes which require you to recruit other members to get paid.  For example, an ad might say that you can make £100 an hour by stuffing envelopes.  But to make that money, you need to sell the system to others.

handcuffs Here are some tips to circumvent these threats when transacting online:

  1. Ask for advertiser’s local phone number and SMS/call him/her directly.  This is to ensure that he/she is located in your country
  2. Ask for more details (photos, videos, location, reason for selling) from the advertiser then verify them afterwards (using Google, etc)
  3. Transact face-to-face (cash on delivery) whenever possible (meet up at banks for huge amounts) to see the actual product before paying.  Inspect the product carefully (registration papers and serial numbers if applicable) before paying
  4. Never accept ordinary checks and inspect the money carefully when accepting payment.  Bring an infrared light to validate each banknote if you have one
  5. Take a picture of the seller with his identification for big transactions if possible.  Always ask for a contract with the advertiser’s signature and particulars for property rentals
  6. Use your instincts.  If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.  Search the internet for the current pricing of the same product
  7. Never give your password, bank details, social security and other sensitive information to anyone
  8. Never pay via Western Union, Moneygram or other anonymous (no recipient account) payment services
  9. Avoid doing financial transactions online (online banking, PayPal/credit card payments, etc) while using public computers or networks (internet shops, airport, etc) as there may be malwares installed on those computers or networks

This article is not written to scare you from doing online transactions but to educate you on what is happening in cyberspace.  If you have recently been a victim of fraud, contact your local police department immediately.  Here in, we are doing our best to protect both our honest advertisers and buyers but the bottom-line is that everyone should be vigilant and informed when transacting online or offline.