Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

The biggest scams today and how you can protect yourself from them

1/
PR Image Factory // Shutterstock

The biggest scams today and how you can protect yourself from them

Two recently released documentaries on Netflix and Hulu chronicle 2017's failed Fyre Festival, painstakingly laying out how con artist Billy McFarland stole more than $26 million dollars from investors on the back of his fraudulent ticket-selling company. The internet has been abuzz ever since, with the general consensus being that no one understands how these victims were scammed so easily. It turns out, it was probably much easier than you think.

Masquerading as trusted brands, potential romantic partners, and even family members, scammers executed an average of one con every 11 minutes in 2017. The end result was 47,000 scam reports, and an overall drain on the American economy of $50 billion. Using data from the 2017 BBB Scam Tracker Annual Risk Report: New Trends in Scam Risk, Stacker rounded up the biggest scams in recent years. Explaining how these scams work in the real world, Stacker will show you just how easy it can be to lose your hard-earned cash to a con artist like McFarland.

The scams are ranked by the BBB risk index which, according to the report, considers quantifiable factors like exposure, susceptibility, and monetary loss in order to provide the most accurate assessment of the impact and risk of each scam.

Most scams utilize the internet to rob people of their money, while others like romance and family/friend emergency scams, prey on your willingness to go to great lengths for those you love. Chillingly, some of the scams on our list, like home improvement scams, are the result of con artists traipsing through your home and potentially spending time around you and other family members.

Read on to find out which scams to which you might be most likely to fall prey and to learn some helpful tips that can keep you from ever becoming a victim.

You might also like: Least trusted professions in America

2/
Andy Dean Photography // Shutterstock

#28. Healthcare scams (tie)

-BBB risk index: 0.3
-Number of reports: 646 (1.4% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 4.0%
-Median reported loss: $139
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: credit card

Healthcare scams come in many forms, but all involve someone either wanting your personal information for identity theft —under the guise of updating your insurance—or attempting to use your insurance to submit fraudulent medical charges. Most versions also include robocalls, texts, or emails from someone claiming to be a government official wanting your information. The best way to protect yourself? Never share your personal information with someone who contacts you without your request. You should instead call a trusted number from your healthcare provider to verify the legitimacy of the request.

3/
ESB Professional // Shutterstock

#28. Scholarship (tie)

-BBB risk index: 0.3
-Number of reports: 15 (0.0% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 13.3%
-Median reported loss: $1,594
-Top means of contact with money lost: in-person
-Top payment method: check

The cost of higher education in America is paralyzing and often keeps many would-be students from pursuing college. A decent scholarship or grant offer can seem like a dream come true. Usually, when a scholarship is a scam, a person claiming to be a financial aid representative will contact you about a scholarship you never applied for or pressure you into applying for a “guaranteed” scholarship, both with a one-time processing fee. The BBB says that the simplest ways to avoid this scam are by remembering that it is generally free to apply for scholarships, asking about fees upfront, avoiding companies that tell you success stories that sound too good to be true, and asking lots of questions.

4/
Judith E. Bell // Flickr

#27. Charity

-BBB risk index: 0.4
-Number of reports: 419 (0.9% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 11.0%
-Median reported loss: $105
-Top means of contact with money lost: in-person
-Top payment method: check

Charity scams come from an organization claiming to be taking donations to help a specific cause. You donate the money only to find out the charity or cause never really existed or that the charity grossly misrepresented how much of the money was actually going to the cause. These scams can be hard to identify as many scammers go to great lengths to create social media accounts for the charity or cause and even impersonate victims. In October 2017, a couple created a GoFundMe page for a homeless veteran and concocted a false heartwarming story that resulted in more than 14,000 people donating more than $400,000. To keep yourself safe, be sure to vet charities before donating using something like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

5/
Katie // Flickr

#26. Yellow Pages/directories

-BBB risk index: 0.7
-Number of reports: 165 (0.3% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 8.5%
-Median reported loss: $558
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: credit card

The Yellow Pages and other similar directories have decreased in popularity since the rise of the Internet, but scammers are still benefiting from them. Scammers contact a company claiming to represent a directory and request basic information—address, phone number, email, etc.—before prompting the employee to confirm the listing. Later, the scammed company will receive an invoice for a few hundred dollars, and if they call to complain, the scammer will reply that the employee verbally confirmed placement in their directory and agreed to the cost. These scams are always done over the phone making them hard to identify, but easy ways to protect yourself and your company include educating staff and training them to ask suspicious callers questions, researching the company the caller claims to represent, asking specifically about the terms and conditions, and having a clear process in place for inspecting invoices.

6/
Tumisu // Pixabay

#25. Business email compromise

-BBB risk index: 1.3
-Number of reports: 222 (0.5% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 14.4%
-Median reported loss: $446
-Top means of contact with money lost: email
-Top payment method: credit card

The FBI calls business email compromise a “more sophisticated scam.” An employee will receive an email from an alleged coworker requesting they wire money to a supplier or business partner. Criminal groups who run this scam target businesses involved with suppliers in foreign countries and which routinely send large sums via wire transfer. In reality, there is no partner or supplier, you are sending the money directly to the scammer. Some tips to avoid this scam include being wary of sending money to a new vendor—or previously used vendor at a new address—without checking in with a trusted contact and always double checking the email address which, in case of scams, will use an address almost identical to a legitimate vendor's but may be one letter or character off.

7/
Forrest Wheatey // Flickr

#24. Moving

-BBB risk index: 1.5
-Number of reports: 64 (0.1% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 53.1%
-Median reported loss: $486
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: credit card

Moving can be an incredibly stressful experience, and finding out you've been scammed can make it infinitely worse. The most popular scam includes getting a quote from a moving company and sending a deposit, only to have the movers never show. Another scam includes companies quoting you a rate based on item weight, and then, on moving day, informing you your belongings are much heavier than projected and that the price per additional pound will be double the original quote. Moving companies can also scam you by never delivering your items meaning either your stuff is gone forever or you have to pay a hefty “ransom fee” to get your items returned. The best ways to avoid these scams are heavily researching to ensure the legitimacy of the company, keeping an inventory of your belongings, getting everything in writing, and never sending a full payment in advance of the move.

8/
Richard Patterson // Flickr

#23. Identity theft

-BBB risk index: 1.7
-Number of reports: 886 (1.9% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 5.2%
-Median reported loss: $399
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: credit card

In 2017 alone, 16.7 million individuals were impacted by identity theft and more than $16.8 billion dollars were stolen. With the right information, scammers can steal and use your identity to open a line of credit in your name, take money out of your bank accounts, or obtain services that they never pay for—just to name a few. Identity theft can be hard to uncover, as scammers often go to great lengths to keep you unaware such as ensuring all bills and statements are sent to an alternative address. Make sure to regularly check your accounts for unexplained withdrawals and check your credit score often to ensure no unauthorized accounts have been opened in your name. You should also carefully guard your personal information—keeping all personal documents in a secure location and never giving out information to unsolicited callers.

9/
EpSos.de // WikiCommons

#22. Foreign money exchange

-BBB risk index: 2.1
-Number of reports: 128 (0.3% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 18.8%
-Median reported loss: $965
-Top means of contact with money lost: internet messaging
-Top payment method: wire transfer

Foreign money exchange is a scam being phased out as most millennials are aware of it and on guard against it. The most popular version begins with a fake Nigerian prince or a wealthy businessman who will spin a sad story, over email, about how they have had to flee Nigeria but have left their money and valuables behind. The scammer pleads for your help to retrieve their belongings and money, and in return, promise to award you a few of their millions. What follows are the additional fees, bribes, taxes, and legal costs after the initial bank transfer you agreed to—all of which you will be asked to pay up front. The easiest ways to avoid this scam are by never sending money to a person you only know via email, being wary of strangers offering you large sums of money, and always being suspicious of transactions that involve additional and hidden fees.

10/
CORGI HomePlan // Flickr

#21. Utility

-BBB risk index: 2.2
-Number of reports: 500 (1.0% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 9.6%
-Median reported loss: $500
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: prepaid card

Utility scams are often seasonal happening most often in the summer and winter when people are dependent on air conditioning or heat. Scammers pose as water, electric, or gas company representatives and contact you threatening a deactivation of service if a certain fee or bill is not paid immediately. The biggest red flag for this scam, as noted by the BBB, is when a company requests you pay with a prepaid debit card or wire transfer. A legitimate utility company will always accept a check or credit card payment. Never allow a utility worker into your home unless you have a pre-scheduled appointment and always call customer service to verify any requested payments.

11/
B Rosen // Flickr

#20. Credit card

-BBB risk index: 2.4
-Number of reports: 1,244 (2.6% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 14.1%
-Median reported loss: $150
-Top means of contact with money lost: website
-Top payment method: credit card

Credit card scams are very similar to identity theft scams and often share the same end goal: to make unauthorized transactions or steal your identity. Scammers will contact you claiming to be your bank or credit card company and ask you to verify your account information. Occasionally, the scam will be done over email requesting you click a link to confirm your information, but instead, the link downloads malware to your device. To entice you to give your information, these scammers often offer a better interest rate, inform you that they need to send you a new card as your old one has been compromised, or tell you that they need to verify a charge. In order to avoid this, consider how your bank or credit card company usually contacts you and check directly with your bank or credit card company using a trusted customer service number to verify the request or offer.

12/
Judith E. Bell // Flickr

#19. Fake invoice

-BBB risk index: 2.6
-Number of reports: 814 (1.7% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 15.6%
-Median reported loss: $220
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: check

Scammers use fake invoices for services or products that were never ordered, offered, and may not even exist to scam companies out of large sums of money. The invoices look official and use words like “renewal” and “past due” coercing many companies to pay without thinking twice. In Australia, small businesses lost an estimated $4.1 million to fake invoice scams in 2018. To ensure your business won't fall victim to this scam, educate your staff and set up a process for inspecting invoices. Be sure to check the legitimacy of goods or services for which you are being charged, and, if applicable, have the items or services delivered before paying up.

13/
rdelarosa0 // Pixabay

#18. Tax collection

-BBB risk index: 3.3
-Number of reports: 3,090 (6.5% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 1.2%
-Median reported loss: $999
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: prepaid card

Tax scams are one of the oldest scams to date and show no signs of slowing down. A fake IRS agent may contact you claiming that you owe taxes to be paid immediately by prepaid debit card or wire transfer with threats of arrest and hefty fines or contacting you with claims that they are sending out refunds but need your personal information to do so. In one instance, which the IRS has already sent several warnings about this year, a scammer will use your Social Security number to file a tax return in your name and then claim the refund. The biggest red flag in this scam is being pressured to act quickly. In actuality, the IRS will give you the chance to ask questions and appeal what you owe while never demanding payment over the phone or requiring that you use a non-refundable form of payment. To avoid this scam, make sure to pay your taxes in full each year and file your return as early as possible.

14/
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Tracy // SchrieverAirForceBase

#17. Phishing

-BBB risk index: 3.4
-Number of reports: 13,774 (28.8% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 0.9%
-Median reported loss: $300
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: credit card

Phishing scams can be the hardest to identify as they come in such a wide variety of forms. The most common are emails either claiming you have won a prize and need to claim it or owe something and threatening consequences if unpaid. Sometimes these emails include a PDF, either linked or as an attachment, which downloads malware to your computer and steals your personal information. Keep yourself safe by never opening anything from unrecognized email address and being wary of emails that contain only the most general information—your name is excluded from the email or the last four digits are absent from the credit card on which they are claiming payment is due.

15/
Condos CCSCA // Flickr

#16. Rental

-BBB risk index: 5.3
-Number of reports: 295 (0.6% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 34.2%
-Median reported loss: $570
-Top means of contact with money lost: online classifieds
-Top payment method: cash

Especially for those in major cities where the rental market is tough, finding a new place to live can be difficult. In an effort to make the exhausting process easier, many skimp on their research and rush into agreements to have the taxing process over with. Scammers prey on these situations, luring you in with online ads of beautiful listings at low prices before telling you that time is short, others are interested, and immediate action is required to secure the listing. After paying a hefty security deposit, first and last month's rent, and an agent's fee, you discover that the property is not available and maybe never even existed. ApartmentList recently reported that 43.1% of renters have encountered a fraudulent listing, and 5.2 million renters have lost money due to a rental scam. Be wary of rentals that seem too good to be true and insist on seeing the listing in person before sending any money.

16/
e-gabi // Pixabay

#15. Credit repair/debt relief

-BBB risk index: 5.4
-Number of reports: 572 (1.2% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 17.3%
-Median reported loss: $599
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: bank account / debit

The majority of adults in the United States have debt: 80.9% of baby boomers, 79.9% of Gen Xers, and 81.5% of millennials. It's no surprise then that credit repair and debt relief scams are on the rise. Scammers will contact you promising a specific credit score or a reduction or total elimination of your debt as long as you pay an upfront fee. You pay the fee, and nothing changes except that you are now out money that you could have put towards the debt you owe. Never believe guarantees and always avoid advance fees. In the United States, credit repair and debt relief companies can only collect money after performing the promised services.

17/
StockSnap // Pixabay

#14. Counterfeit product

-BBB risk index: 5.7
-Number of reports: 886 (1.9% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 46.5%
-Median reported loss: $150
-Top means of contact with money lost: website
-Top payment method: credit card

For a consumer who's been lusting over a $1,300 handbag for months, finding the same bag on the website of a different retailer for only $700 may seem like a dream come true. The reality is often far from dreamy as this handbag hopeful probably just fell prey to a counterfeit product scam. Counterfeit goods mimic designer goods right down to the trademarked logo but are made with inferior materials and workmanship and are sold online—sometimes through reputable sites, in flea markets, by street vendors, and in traditional retail stores for majorly reduced prices. Avoid sketchy retailers, choose to stick to the source or authorized sellers, and be wary of too good to be true prices.

18/
Ernestoeslava // Pixabay

#13. Debt collection

-BBB risk index: 6.1
-Number of reports: 2,304 (4.8% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 7.2%
-Median reported loss: $404
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: credit card

Scammers running debt-collection scams are particularly scary because of how persistent they can be. Scammers will call claiming to work for a debt collection agency or a government office and need to collect a debt that you owe immediately. If you refuse, they may threaten you with consequences—-wage garnishment, arrest, court appearances, etc. If that fails, they will continue contacting you until you give in. Stay on top of your debts and keep track of what you owe and to whom. In the United States and Canada, debt collectors are required to notify you of your debt in writing—a “validation notice.” If a company can't or won't provide this, they are not legitimate.

19/
Judith E. Bell // Flickr

#12. Sweepstakes, lottery and prize

-BBB risk index: 8.2
-Number of reports: 2,820 (5.9% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 6.4%
-Median reported loss: $500
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: wire transfer

If you haven't entered a contest, sweepstakes, or lottery you are not eligible to win its prize. An email or phone call alerting you that you have won that prize and can collect it at any time after paying taxes and fees on it via a prepaid debit card or wire transfer is most definitely a scam. Same goes for a letter from a foreign lottery telling you that you've won the jackpot. In the United States and Canada, citizens can't enter foreign lotteries by phone or mail—meaning you would have had to visit the country in order to enter. Keeping track of any contests, sweepstakes, or lotteries you do enter is the best way to avoid falling prey to this scam. Keep in mind that a legitimate sweepstakes company will never ask you to pay upfront fees to claim a prize.

20/
Torbakhopper // Flickr

#11. Romance

-BBB risk index: 8.9
-Number of reports: 144 (0.3% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 45.1%
-Median reported loss: $1,500
-Top means of contact with money lost: social media
-Top payment method: wire transfer

Romance scams have increased as online dating and social media apps make it easy to have an entire relationship with someone you've never actually met in person. The scams essentially all work the same way: Someone will make a fake online profile on a dating or social media site to connect with you, and after chatting and exchanging pictures, will offer some excuse as to why they cannot meet in person—they're in the military, visiting family, working overseas, etc. Once they sense an emotional connection, the scammer will make his or her move asking you for money perhaps to come and visit or for an emergency. After you've sent the money, they vanish from your life altogether leaving behind the fake profile to strike again from a new one. Keep an eye out for red flags like the relationship moving more quickly than normal, excessive talk about trust, a refusal to meet you in person, too many “hard luck” stories, and language that doesn't seem to match up with their claims.

21/
6277974 // PIxabay

#10. Government grant

-BBB risk index: 9.4
-Number of reports: 1,981 (4.1% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 10.3%
-Median reported loss: $500
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: prepaid card

The government is not in the business of offering free money to random people “just because.” Getting a government grant is a long, involved process and is only initiated when you take the first step. Anyone reaching out to you telling you otherwise—perhaps with claims that you have been awarded a grant you won't have to repay as long as you pay a few small upfront fees—may be trying to pull a government grant scam over on you. There are hundreds of fake “look-alike” agencies out there, so always double-check any grant agency contacting you against the only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies.

22/
Jakub Zak // Shutterstock

#9. Family/friend emergency

-BBB risk index: 9.6
-Number of reports: 341 (0.7% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 10.3%Median reported loss: $3,000
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: prepaid card

Family/friend emergency scams prey on your love for your nearest and dearest and your willingness to do whatever it takes to ensure their safety and happiness. Scammers will contact you claiming to be someone you know in a dire situation and in need of money. Scammers will also scour social media accounts learning minute details—like nicknames and travel plans—to legitimize their stories. Resist the urge to act immediately and call your friend or family member directly. If you can't reach them, speak to others who may know of their whereabouts. Double-checking these stories is the only sure-fire way to avoid this scam.

23/
mcu1st0 // Pixabay

#8. Travel and vacation

-BBB risk index: 10.2
-Number of reports: 2,560 (5.4% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 3.7%
-Median reported loss: $1,184
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: credit card

One of the most common travel and vacation scams is very similar to a rental scam. A con artist will post a listing for a vacation rental that either doesn't exist or doesn't look as pictured, pressure you into acting quickly, and then ask you to submit a deposit before vanishing into the night with your money (and the beach house of your dreams). Another common version preys on those looking to sell their timeshares. A real estate broker or agent, who claims to specialize in timeshare resales, will call claiming to have dozens of potential buyers and offering to expedite the selling process if only you'll pay a small upfront fee. Talk to the owner of the vacation home you're looking to rent, check public records and online reviews to make sure the location matches the description, and never pay any kind of upfront fees via prepaid debit cards or wire transfers.

24/
fizkes // Shutterstock

#7. Tech support

-BBB risk index: 16.5
-Number of reports: 2,277 (4.8% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 26.4%
-Median reported loss: $300
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: credit card

For many of us, there would be nothing worse than losing all of the data on our computers or having them be rendered useless by viruses. Those running tech support scams know this and have invented clever ways to steal your money by preying on this fear. Posing as tech support staff from well-known computer companies—Dell, Norton, or Microsoft—scammers will call informing you that your computer is infected or a pop-up will appear alerting you that something is wrong and giving you a number to call. When you call, the scammer will offer to fix the problem as long as you pay a fee. They may even ask for remote access to fix the problem and then install malware to steal your personal information. Never grant access to your computer, know that legitimate tech companies would not call out of the blue, and shut down your computer when a suspicious pop-up appears.

25/
Jarmoluk // Pixabay

#6. Home improvement

-BBB risk index: 18.9
-Number of reports: 374 (0.8% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 44.9%
-Median reported loss: $1,225
-Top means of contact with money lost: in-person
-Top payment method: check

One of the few in-person scams on our list is the home improvement scam, which starts with a knock on your door and a contractor offering services at a below average price often claiming they're finishing another project in the neighborhood and can squeeze you in if you act now. They will then either ask for a deposit and walk away with it, find dozens of “additional issues” after they've begun work that you'll need to pay for, or coax you into signing away your insurance payment. Always check a contractor's references and reviews before allowing them to start work, be wary of huge upfront costs and high-pressure deals, insist on having a written contract before work begins, and ask to see a contractor's business license, permits, and other official documents validating their legitimacy.

26/
SkunkChunk // Shutterstock

#5. Fake check/money order

-BBB risk index: 21.3
-Number of reports: 1,097 (2.3% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 14.2%
-Median reported loss: $1,488
-Top means of contact with money lost: email
-Top payment method: check

Fake check and money order scams can be hard to peg down as con artists use a wide variety of stories and situations to steal your money. Often you will receive a check worth far more than what was expected. A scammer will then ask you to deposit the check and wire back the difference saving them the trouble of canceling that check and sending over another. Forged checks often take weeks to be uncovered, and by the time the check bounces, the extra money you thought you had plus the difference you wired back to the scammer will be gone. Always be aware of overpayments especially gross overpayments. If you receive a check that is much larger than you were expecting, send it back; otherwise, you may be on the hook for funds used against the amount.

27/
Frankieleon// Flickr

#4. Advance fee loan

-BBB risk index: 22.7
-Number of reports: 1,061 (2.2% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 38.9%
-Median reported loss: $600
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: prepaid card

Many scams prey on those who are financially unstable, and advance fee loan scams are no exception. In this scam, a loan broker will promise you a substantial loan, regardless of your credit history or score, after you pay an upfront fee or “insurance.” Of course, as soon as you do, the loan broker is gone as is all of the money you were promised. While there are always various fees associated with loans, they are always communicated clearly and are taken from the money you are being loaned. Real lenders will never guarantee a loan before checking your credit history and will never accept strange forms of fee payment like gift cards, prepaid debit cards, or wire transfers.

28/
Geralt//Pixabay

#3. Employment

-BBB risk index: 24.6
-Number of reports: 2,429 (5.1% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 13.8%
-Median reported loss: $800
-Top means of contact with money lost: email
-Top payment method: other

Employment scams happen when con artists pose as legitimate companies who are recruiting or hiring. After receiving your application, they'll hire you almost immediately, usually without a proper interview, and request your banking information in order to set you up for direct deposit or charge you for training. Keep in mind that some jobs—those without special training, licensing or educational requirements like secret shoppers and customer service reps—are more susceptible to this scam than others. Be aware of any out of the ordinary hiring procedures like being offered a job without an interview.

29/
Natannan23//Pixabay

#2. Investment

-BBB risk index: 25.6
-Number of reports: 238 (0.5% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 50.8%
-Median reported loss: $2,310
-Top means of contact with money lost: phone
-Top payment method: wire transfer

Con artists put a lot of effort into their scams to make them convincing, and investment scams are the best example of this. In the most basic version of this scam, you'll be convinced to invest in a project, company, or loan, but when you try to withdraw your money, find what you invested in never really existed. Another common type of investment scam is a Ponzi scheme; think Bernie Madoff's Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. Educate yourself about investments and industry regulations before getting involved with a project and keep your eyes peeled for “too good to be true” buzzwords.

30/
Jonathan//Flickr

#1. Online purchase

-BBB risk index: 30.9
-Number of reports: 4,655 (9.7% of all reported scams)
-Percent of reports with money lost: 72.5%
-Median reported loss: $100
-Top means of contact with money lost: website
-Top payment method: credit card

Online purchase scams happen most often on direct seller-to-buyer sites like eBay and Craigslist. If you're the seller in this scam, you might agree to sell your item outside of the site's routine checkout process and opt to receive payment by cashier's check or money order only to have the buyer run a fake check/money order scam. If you're the buyer, you'll purchase an item or services only to never receive what was ordered and paid for. To keep yourself secure, only use websites and online marketplaces that offer protections to buyers and sellers and never agree to exchanges outside of the usual checkout process.

2018 All rights reserved.