An introduction to online scams

Firstly a definition from the OED:
noun a dishonest scheme; a fraud.
verb (scammed, scamming) swindle.
DERIVATIVES scammer noun.
ORIGIN of unknown origin.

Scams can now be found everywhere you can imagine online: in your email, on auction sites, dating sites, classified web sites, forums and chat rooms, to name just a few. The extent to which fraud has permeated every last corner of internet activity is truly frightening. As people and websites become more savvy to their scams, the more subtle and varied scammers become in their tactics. As such, it is almost impossible to categorise and catalogue every possibility. However, there are common signs to look out for in emails and key things you need to know to avoid being caught out.

Probably the 2 most important things you should know are:
  1. Never send money via telegraphic transfer such as Western Union. These services are designed to send money to friends and family ONLY.
  2. Cheques never actually clear! The most common scam tactic is the over payment scam which relies on this misconception. Though funds may appear to 'clear' after 3 or 4 days and appear in your account, the money can be recalled weeks, months even years later if the cheque turns out to be stolen or forged
See our 7 essential tips to avoiding scams

Nigeria, the scam capital of the world

Scamming is a global threat with scammers popping up everywhere, but nowhere in the world is it more rife than Nigeria. Police estimate that fraud is second only to the Oil Industry in the Nigerian economy. Nigeria is the home of the infamous 419 scam and the vast majority of scams originate from here, though they may try hard to make you believe they are actually from somewhere else. Nigeria is home to its own brand of the 'Sweetheart Scam' using photographs from modelling sites.
Email is a geographically free contact medium and incredibly easy to fake. Even phone numbers can be misleading - many overseas scammers use the 070 "personal numbering " numbers which can forward to almost any number in the world!

The Internet is ANONYMOUS!

All frauds are based on pretence and the Internet is perfect for a fraudster to pretend to be someone else. NETCRED is the only way you can be reasonably certain of whom you are talking to!