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Online Home Businesses: Another Scam Reminder

I was recently reminded again of how far scam artists will go to separate people from their money by making use of the internet. The scam I read about took advantage of people who were looking for new jobs (offline) and did this by posting their resume’s on the internet. There were two parts to the scams: One was to scan these resumes for any kind of personal information. In some cases they were able to find social security numbers published which then allowed them apply for credit cards under someone else’s name. The other part involved actually calling the job seeker and posing as a potential employer. Their spin involved explaining they were interested in setting up an interview but needed some personal information to do credit checks and other background checks prior to the actual interview.

Once this information was received, you guessed it, more problems. Now some of this just seems like common sense. I for one would not be publishing my social security numbers anywhere on the internet. However, a phone call, while desperate for a job, from a company that sounded legitimate on the phone could perhaps persuade some people to part with their personal information. My own personal experience with an online scam happened a number of years ago.

I had a used car for sale and a friend recommended purchasing an online ad. This sounded like a good idea and did not cost much so I did it. Response to the ad was not immediate but over time it did generate some interest with a few calls and some emails. Nothing real serious though until one gentleman sent me an email explaining he was real interested and wanted to know a few more details. I was pretty interested because it seemed like price was not an issue. We began an email dialogue and after several exchanges came the “pitch”: He was interested in purchasing the car but was unable to pick it up. Since he traveled considerably and was currently in the UK he would send a bank check for the full amount plus the cost to ship it. When the check arrived, I would then immediately deposit the check and write another to a shipping broker who would call to pickup the vehicle. My initial reaction was that I’d sold the vehicle. At the time, my understanding of bank checks was that it was similar to a money order and was as good as gold.

I didn’t really see how I could lose. However, then doubts came into my mind. Why would someone from the UK, pay full price for my car – without even seeing it or having someone else check it out, and then pay expensive shipping costs to send the car somewhere else? Initially I rationalized that he must be a businessman and that cost was not an issue. But then I thought why would he want my Chevy and do they not sell vehicles where he is? I did some investigating on the internet and found this scenario all too common. It was a scam. I was initially angry that someone would do this to me, but then also scared that it could be done to me and that I could have lost both the car and the money paid for the shipping costs. My story ended turned out ok because I stopped before I parted with the money. However, there are many stories of people who parted with their money before realizing it was wrong. Did I have any special insight which kept me from losing the money? Probably not, except for the fact that it just did not feel right. I compare this online scenario to walking down a dark alley at night.

If it does not look right and does not feel right then don’t do it – at least not without some investigation or insight from someone else. In many cases scammers “get away with it” since people are not aware of their methods. At the time I was not aware bank checks could be bad. But they can also take advantage of emotions such as “Entitlement”. I felt I deserved full price for the car, and he was the only one offering it. Either way before parting with your money over the internet, do your research and make sure you are ok with it. It could still be legitimate and most likely a day or two will not hurt to check something out to be sure. If you’re thinking of starting your home business using the internet, don’t let these stories from other victims’ scare you away. People are scammed offline too. There are many legitimate internet opportunities available for starting a home business.

Here are some resources on internet crime along with the FBI report I read about: * http://www.ic3.gov/ * http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/fraudschemes.htm * http://www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com/ * http://www.fbi.


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