Online casinos take the spotlight for gambling scams : Internet Scambusters #1,080
Online gambling has taken off in a big way, especially for those who like to play casino-type games.
So, scammers have dreamed up a whole raft of ruses they can play to trick would-be players into handing over their money, often without the slightest chance of winning.
In this week's issue, we'll explain the most common gambling scams and the key actions you can take to block their tricks.
Let's get started…
The Simplest, Surest Way To Beat Gambling Scammers
The stakes are high when it comes to online gambling. The fast-growing US industry is estimated to be worth more than $3 billion a year. And scammers want their cut.
Their favorite targets are online casinos, which allow players to take part in the same sorts of games found in brick-and-mortar gambling places, with all sorts of tactics and tricks to lure them in.
As online security and privacy specialists Incognia explain: "It's easier to game with online casinos, but unfortunately, it may be easier for players to cheat and be cheated as well."
The most common types of online gambling scams include:
- Game rigging, where crooks make sure players can't win fairly. Everyone knows that legitimate casinos stack the odds in their favor, but scammers inflate their take. Sometimes they give players an early big win, knowing they'll likely stake it all back - and more.
- Fake sites used to steal both money and personal information for identity theft.
- Payout fraud, when operators refuse to hand over legitimate winnings or even prevent access to or simply steal deposits players have already made. Tricksters often ask for a low deposit knowing players won't devote much time trying to get it back.
- False bonus or sign-up offers, where scammers lure in their victims by promising unrealistic offers, such as free games.
- Fake guarantees, in which fraudulent sites promise you'll come out a winner or get your money back.
- Unlicensed operators who are often difficult to track down.
- Unfair terms and conditions, often hidden in the small print of membership rules.
- Installing malware, spyware, and ransomware by telling players they have to download special software that they've doctored. Crooks also use bogus casino apps to hack into your device.
- Insider collusion. There was a famous case a few years back when a casino had an employee in a group of online poker players and simply fed information to him on the other players' cards.
The result is often not only big financial losses and the consequences of identity theft but also mental and physical outcomes like stress and even a potential risk of being driven toward a gambling compulsion to recoup winnings.
How to Beat the Gambling Scammers
Gambling writer J.W. Paine, when asked to name the worst online casino scam, said the quick answer was "the one you got taken in by."
But he added: "Despite the apparent ease with which you can be parted with your money, your winnings, and your very identity, these online casino scammers are very easy to thwart."
And the simplest way?
"Deal with legitimate casinos. Full stop."
That starts with checking that they are certified and licensed to operate in your state, which means they must comply with very detailed gaming regulations and are regularly vetted to see that they're playing by the rules.
And that, of course, means doing your research. Though we can't vouch for its accuracy or reliability, the site for which Paine writes (GamblingSites.com) publishes a list of what it describes as the best online casinos in 2023. The site includes detailed reviews and explanations of games.
Another useful site is Legit Gambling Sites, which also includes a rundown of blacklisted sites.
Other precautions you can take are:
- Make sure you know what you're signing up for. Read the terms and conditions carefully, including the small print, to identify restrictions and bonus requirements.
- Check license details. All legit online casinos have to publish their license information on their site. If it's not there, don't use it.
- Don't click on tempting social media ads, pop-ups or message links, and ignore anything that offers guaranteed winnings or money-back deals.
- Don't use public Wi-Fi networks to play - and ensure your own network is properly secured, including the use of Internet security software.
- Use strong and unique passwords on each site you use. Never share them with others. If multi-factor authentication is available, use it.
If you get scammed, always report it to online gambling regulators, consumer protection agencies (like ftc.gov) or law enforcement.
Final words from J.W. Paine: "Any time there's money involved - and always is - there's the opportunity for chicanery and theft. These tend to be related to deposits in the online casino jungle - particularly first deposits.
"The 'online casino' perpetrating this scam isn't concerned about developing a long-term relationship with you. It's more like a mugging, and the casino will almost certainly not exist once it has your money."
Here at Scambusters, our role is neither to encourage nor discourage gambling. But we want to protect our subscribers and readers from scammers. Furthermore, if you have issues or concerns about your gambling habits, contact the National Council on Problem Gambling at NCPgambling.org helpline on 1-800-GAMBLER.
This Week's Alert
Not the FTC: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a new warning about impersonators pretending to be FTC employees.
The crooks use familiar tricks, notably saying their victim won a prize and must pay an FTC fee to collect. They also use the names of genuine FTC employees.
The organization says it never calls anyone to demand money, it never threatens arrest, and it will never promise you a prize. Enough said.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!