The Basics of Advance Fee Scams
Advance fee scams are a type of fraud in which the scammer offers goods, services or funds in exchange for an upfront payment. Sometimes, the scammer will request payment in the form of gift cards, wire transfer, pre-loaded debit cards or cryptocurrency. However, once the initial payment is made, the scammer disappears and you are left with nothing. These scams can be very difficult to spot, as they often involve seemingly legitimate businesses or individuals.
Common Tactics Used By Advance Fee Scammers
There are several common tactics that advance fee scammers use to trick people into giving them money or personal information, such as:
- Offering a free or low-cost trial period for a service, only to require an upfront payment before the trial begins.
- Guaranteeing a large return on investment, but only if an upfront payment is made.
- Asking for personal or financial information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number, in order to “qualify” you for the offer.
- Requesting that you wire money to them, load funds onto a prepaid debit card or pay with gift cards in order to receive the promised goods or services.
- Threatening legal action if you do not make the payment.
- Creating fake websites or email addresses that appear to be legitimate.
Common Types of Advance Fee Scams
- Shipping Fee Scams: Scammers pose as online sellers who run social media ads or message you directly for a limited time sale in which their product is available free of charge, you just have to pay for shipping. Once you pay shipping, the item never arrives and the scammers disappear with your money and personal information.
- “Lottery” or “Prize” Scams: You are contacted and told that you have won a large sum of money in a lottery or contest. However, to collect your prize, you must first pay various fees and taxes. Once you pay the fees or taxes, the scammer disappears with your money.
- Inheritance Scams: You are told that you are the beneficiary of an inheritance, but you must pay a fee in order to receive the money. Once you pay the fee, the scammer disappears with your money.
- Job Offer Scams: You are promised a high-paying job, but you must pay a fee in order to secure the position. In some cases, the scammer will ask you to purchase equipment and then send it to them for set up with the promise of reimbursing you on your first paycheck. Once you send the equipment, the scammer disappears.
- Cryptocurrency Scams: You are asked to pay fees using cryptocurrency in exchange for a larger sum of cryptocurrency. Once the scammer receives your payment, they disappear.