With the economy in its current state and with people still being tight on money and losing their jobs online scams are more dangerous than ever. Despite their vast dangers scams are actually easily prevented. I’m going to go over the signs that you are potentially being scammed so you can stop it before its too late.
It’s too good to be true: If you see an ad for something that sounds too good to be true than it probably is. This is a saying that most people know but it doesn’t mean that we see an offer that good we aren’t curious. And often times we act on that curiosity. The problem is there are some “to good to be true offers” that are actually true. But how do you tell the difference? If it is an offer that you have to pay money for first or give out some vital information avoid it at all costs. Nothing is worth potentially losing all the money you have. However, if it’s in a situation where you can e-mail the person placing the ad and talk to them about it first than I recommend that. As long as you aren’t in danger of them getting vital information there is no harm in talking to them.
Information Doesn’t Add Up: Let’s say you saw an incredible offer from an ad and you have the option to e-mail first, through craigslist for example, you need to carefully read all the details of the e-mails that are being sent to you and see if it all adds up. For example I saw an ad on craigslist for a one-bedroom apartment for $450 a month. Where I live that is unheard of so I was curious. I immediately e-mailed the person behind the ad and exchanged e-mails with them for over a week, all the while coming to the conclusion that this was a scam.
It was the little details that gave them away. They gave me the wrong zip-code over and over again despite having “lived” in the area for a number of years. Through the e-mails the address changed, it was something like 1539 at first but after driving there and informing them that what they told me would be there wasn’t the address, surprise, changed. It changed to 1511-1539 which was the address of an apartment complex. Okay, well first she said that the apartment wasn’t part of a complex. Needless to say none of the information was adding up. I even went as far as to talk to the apartment complex who told me it was a scam because they didn’t let renters rent the apartments to anyone else. If any simple detail doesn’t add up, call them on it, and if they still can’t give you the answers you need than you know for sure it’s a scam.
They use religion and health problems to gain your trust: I’m a religious person, I have nothing against it. What I do have a problem with is when someone constantly brings up their “religion” as a means of getting my trust, it’s disrespectful to those who are actually religious. In regards to the apartment ad I used as an example above the scammer was constantly using religion to try and gain my trust. She would say things like, “I know there are a lot of scams out there but I’m a Christian so the thought of scamming someone else makes me sick”. But she kept repeating it, every time I called her on a new discrepancy I found, she kept telling me the same thing. Remember if someone feels the need to keep repeating something like that to you there has to be reason, i.e. they are lying.
If a person is using health problems, telling you their life story regarding their health problems, and constantly giving repeating how with religion they couldn’t scam you, then watch out. I find that by reading the way the e-mail is worded you can usually tell if they are lying or actually telling the truth.
They can’t meet with you first: If the person behind the ad is a few states away for business or a family reunion than tell them you will wait until you can meet them in person. If they say that isn’t possible, they need to sell the item and get the money right away than watch out. Whenever you buy something online it needs to be something you can see with your own eyes and bought from a person you can meet. Anything else screams scam. Speaking of which.
Money Transfers: Money transfers especially through companies like the Western Union are a big flashing sign that this is scam. Keep in mind Western Union itself isn’t actually a bad company, it’s just that a lot of scams are done through them. Anyway if the person you are communicating with says they want the money first and then they will send you the item, the keys to the apartment/ the car, whatever the case may be then you know for sure this is a scam. Even if they are only asking for half the payment once you send them the money it’s gone and you won’t have anything to show for it. Craigslist itself strongly advises against money transfers.
If you feel like you are getting into a potential scam than take a good look at all of these signs and if anything seems off don’t go through with it. I would however advise you that if you are being scammed or potentially being scammed you report it. I even went as far as to tell them I was going to take the apartment so I could get their Western Union information. Simply not going through with it is great but it doesn’t stop the scammers from doing it to someone else. It just takes a few minutes to report it to Craigslist and the fraud companies.