Internet offer to turn hundreds into thousands is nothing more than a money flipping scam: Internet Scambusters #631
Money flipping scams are rife on social networks right now, claiming that victims can make a fortune out of next to nothing by using a little-known trick in the financial system.
But the real trick is convincing people to part with money that they'll never see again, as we report in this week's issue.
We also have a warning about scam websites that wrongly claim to be able to help people get a "Green Card" to live and work in the US.
Now, here we go...
Money Flipping Scam Hits Social Networks
It's been around for years, but money flipping is getting a new lease of life, thanks to the Internet and social media.
The concept is as simple as it is bold. A crook simply claims he knows a trick that will double or triple your money in just a few minutes, if you'll just send it to him.
Sometimes, they say their technique involves a little-known quirk in the way the money wiring system works.
But, of course, this is really a technique for getting victims to send money electronically, which is then untraceable.
In other variations, they claim the twist works with prepaid debit cards. You're supposed to buy one and send an email or phone message to the perpetrator with the card number and PIN.
And then you sit back to wait for a huge return -- usually claimed to be $1,000 for each $100 "invested," which supposedly will happen in minutes in the form of an increased card balance.
But it's a long wait. In fact, a never-ending one.
Hundreds of money flipping websites have recently sprung up, usually adorned with mouthwatering photos of piles of cash and scores of bogus testimonials from people who are supposed to have made a fortune.
They're either promoted on social networking sites, notably Instagram, or they use part of the name of the social network in their own website name.
"Many scammers use aliases or profile names that seem normal (e.g., Lucy Adams, Martez Brands, and Christa Henderson)," the National Consumers League (NCL) reports, "while other scammers' usernames explicitly allude to their intent on flipping money (e.g., MillionDollarJeff and Quick Money)."
They often also claim they just happened to have stumbled across this moneymaking trick and wanted to share it.
Sometimes, they might suggest they'll take a small commission for passing on the "secret" but, as we know, they take it all!
These scammers subsequently block access from victims who try to contact them to find out what has happened.
It's amazing that people would actually fall for this scam, but they do.
As NCL says: "Anyone who claims to be able to turn small amounts of money into a large amount in minutes is trying to scam you."
It seems most of the victims are quite young -- in their late teens or 20s -- and so may not have heard of money flipping schemes before. Plus, they use social media a great deal.
NCL spokesman John Breyault is quoted by the SavvyMoney consumer finance site as observing: "On Facebook and Instagram, it's so easy to fake a legitimate-looking profile. With young, heavy social media users, that establishes a lot of trust."
As a general rule, you should always be wary about any request to buy a prepaid debit card and pass on the details to someone you don't know.
It carries exactly the same risk as wiring money -- you simply don't know where it's going to or who has it.
You can usually also confirm that it's a scam by doing a Google search on the name of the person who claims to be offering you the money flipping deal.
And if you suspect either that you're a victim of this scam or if you come across a site promising one, you can report it to the NCL at Fraud.org.
The bottom line is there's no such thing as real money flipping like this, so, if you hear about a scheme, just give it the cold shoulder.
Alert of the Week
Here's a lottery scam with a difference: The lottery is legitimate but the chances of "winning" it, as described by scammers, is not.
We're referring to what is known as the government's Diversity Visa Lottery, which gives out "Green Cards" that allow people to live and work permanently in the US.
Entering this annual lottery is actually free and the drawing is random, but the Federal Trade Commission reports that a number of scam websites claim to be affiliated to the program and to be able to increase your chances of being selected -- for a fee, of course.
Warn anyone you know who might be thinking of entering the lottery that the only way to do so is via the Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery site.
There's no money involved and the chances of winning can't be increased.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!