They are creative, convincing, in some cases, even high-tech. In other cases, they are just seemingly generous, but the common denominator is they are all cons. With the internet and ability for people to create anything and everything only being limited by their imagination, it is no wonder the internet is a hotbed of scams waiting for that one or two people who have not yet heard of that particular scam. It is important to keep in perspective, above all, when dealing with anyone online, unless it is a reputable retailer, you can easily contact and verify address as well as telephone information for, you need to beware.
While it is unavoidable, Craigslist jump started the con artist arena but continues to make everyone accept the fact that they are not responsible for what happens between the parties who have responded to an ad. They also warn against some of the most common scams posted on the site, and I do not blame Craigslist one bit for the creeps that bait people with bogus ads, then try to swindle them out of anything and everything. No, the site itself is not at fault, but it is a fact these people are present on the site. As such, here are a few common scams to look out for and avoid.
–Any scenario that requires you to receive a cashier’s check or money order for funds over the price of an item or service, cash that check with your bank, then forward the difference back to the receiving party. Once the check is cashed by your bank and you have sent the real funds back, you will often find out it was a fake check and you are now out the cash, as well as responsible to your bank to reimburse them for the difference.
–Calls from the IRS, local, state law enforcement, or the county and/or state courts asking that you pay a fine for a ticket you got are false. No courts, law enforcement, or the IRS collect anything that way.
–Rental properties advertised by landlords, whose qualification process or requirements to rent the property or any other terms of the rental are a bit too easy-going, are often too good to be true. Almost always they will insist or require that the rent and deposit be paid in cash. A quick property search through your county assessor will almost always show you that they do not own the property and probably have nothing to do with it whatsoever. In many cases, the property owner is out-of-state and a bogus landlord has changed the locks on their own to run this type of scam.
–Buying gift cards online is dicey business but can be a great deal, if legitimate. Just make sure you verify with the retailer first what the actual cards look like and be confident you could identify a real from a fake, if necessary. A lot of times the gift card number is printed on clear label paper to cover the actual number if it is a scam.
Overall, the old adage if it seems too good to be true, it probably still rings true today. Above all, go with your gut feeling because you will usually have some twinge that tells you something is not quite right. There are numerous legitimate deals out there, just move on. The headaches these cons and their scams bring on is something you do not want to have to undo and/or pay for in the long run.
Opinion and Blog by Angela Lehew
Edited by Leigh Haugh
KVOA News4 Tucson Az–Leased and Fleeced (June 16, 2015)
Better Business Bureau–Home