Two new simple and convincing Craigslist scams lead off this week's Snippets issue, along with information about the latest advance fee frauds.
We also have details of more spam messages that set out to steal your money or upload malware onto your PC.
Plus, it's a heartless ruse, but what exactly is a double-dipping scam? We'll explain -- and help you avoid one.
Rental Car, Travelers' Checks Used in Latest Craigslist Scams
We start with two new Craigslist scams that have surfaced in recent months that head up this week's special Snippets issue.
In both cases, the alleged culprits have been arrested, but the tricks are so simple and convincing they're likely to surface again -- something for you to be on the lookout for.
The first one targets car buyers and, as usual, the vehicle is offered at a bargain price.
The scammer arranges to meet his victims in a parking lot with the auto, which they test drive and are wowed by the condition.
He asks for a $500 deposit and promises to return later to hand over the title and collect the balance -- but, of course, he never does.
In this case, the vehicle turned out to be a sparkling rental car but it could be done with any auto.
The scammer can pretend he forgot the title documents and demand the deposit to show you're serious. It seems such a bargain you just don't want to let it slip through your fingers, so you pay up.
Action: A title document could be forged so seeing it wouldn't prove anything. You need to confirm the identity of the "owner" before handing over any cash.
Also, of course, beware of too-good-to-be true prices.
Craigslist Scam #2
In the second Craigslist scam, the victim advertised gift cards for sale.
Because gift cards are increasingly used in place of cash for product rebates, as well as being a favorite option for people who don't know what to buy others for birthday and holiday presents, there's a flourishing market for buying and selling them.
In this incident, the "buyer" offered to exchange travelers' checks for the cards and met the victim in town.
By the time the new owner discovered the checks were fake, the cards had been spent.
Action: You're unlikely to be able to spot a forgery -- even phony cash and certainly not a travelers' check.
The lesson again is to be sure of who you're dealing with. Be cheeky: Say you've been warned about fraud; ask to see their driver's license and to take a cell phone photo of their face.
Read about other Craigslist scams here:
Double Dipping Scam
It's bad enough to be scammed once but when the first scam is used as a lever for a second one it hurts more than twice as much!
Police use the term "double dipping" for the crime and it comes in many formats that usually hinge on the crook pretending to help you deal with the first scam.
In the latest ruse, a caller tells lottery scam victims he's from an agency working with the police to recover their lost money, but they have to pay for his service.
The money, of course, is not recovered, at least not by this conman who likely scammed the victim first time around -- otherwise how would he know about their misfortune?
Action: Law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission are the only people who recover scam victims' money -- and neither of them charges for the service!
More Advance Fee Scams
Double-dipping is a sort of advance fee scam, sometimes called Nigerian scams -- they never go away, do they?
They're the tricks we've written about so many times in which victims are offered money but they have to pay to supposedly get their hands on it. See The Nigerian Advance Fee Scheme.
The first one we have for you comes in an email from a supposed lottery winner who has recently been in the news for the scale of the win -- at least tens of millions.
He apparently wants to give away some of his money in big chunks of a couple million -- but the "lucky" recipients must pay to release the money, by wiring cash to the scammer.
In the second trick, the scammer poses as a wealthy benefactor and contacts a charity or non-profit offering to help fund a major project that's been in the news.
Of course there are "fees" they must pay upfront first and they never hear from him again -- unless it's to demand more cash.
Action: Don't pay to get money and never wire cash to people you don't know.
Follow these two rules and you'll avoid these and many other scams.
Spam Scams to Watch Out For
Our mailboxes and researchers' notebooks overflow with spam scam reports.
Here are the latest to be on the lookout for:
- An email offering compensation for fraud, accident or illness -- a wide range of scenarios that's guaranteed to apply to many recipients.The sender claims to be from a courier service that has been trying to contact you by phone and now wants to send you a refund or compensation payment -- but you have to pay a fee "to UPS" to get it.Action: As in the previous item -- it's an advance fee scam.
- In the latest variation of a malware-charged email attachment, victims get what seems to be an airline receipt detailing a trip they supposedly booked.The message contains very precise details of the flight and seating.The "ticket" is supposedly attached but if you try to open it or print it, it pushes a virus onto your PC.Action: If you didn't book a flight, it's highly unlikely such a message would be genuine.
Good Internet security software should be able to sniff this scam out and alert you.
Otherwise, contact the airline and, using the information in the message (not the ticket, which you shouldn't open), ask if they have a booking in your name.
Many scams rely on the gullibility of victims -- look out for a gullibility test coming up in a future Scambusters issue.
But some tricks are highly convincing. The Craigslist scams are a case in point and the airline ticket scam is enough to scare you into opening the attachment. They both underline the importance of staying calm and thinking carefully before you act.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!