Tips for Spotting Online Scams

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on April 26, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If a thing sounds too good to be true, then chances are good that it is. But who isn't sometimes tempted by the promise of an easy win or a quick buck? Who wouldn't love to know the secret to luck?

There are plenty of people trying to make fast money off you with scams that purport to deliver the impossible and give you the secret scoop. Do not fall prey to con artists. Get wise to the wise guys online and learn to spot a scam using these tips from US News and World Report.

Getting Wise to Online Scams

There are some sure signs that you're dealing with a wise guy. Here are some things to keep your eye on when you are online.

  • Money for Nothing: Any business insisting on payment without illuminating the product should give you pause. Do not make a deposit on anything if you aren't sure exactly what you are paying for and how you can get a refund if you're not happy with the purchase. An overly insistent sales effort is often a sign of a scam.
  • Pie in the Sky Promises: Could you make thousands of dollars a week licking stamps in your living room? It's unlikely and you should be extremely wary of salespeople bearing illusory gifts they probably cannot deliver. It is not so easy to make a lot of money, and if someone is claiming it is, and that all you have to do is pay a little to find out how, seriously consider pursuing another avenue of wealth. It's probably a pie in the sky promise and all you're being sold is a false bill of goods.
  • Suspiciously Disinterested Offer: It would be nice if we were all just nice, but it's usually not the case that people do things for strangers out of good will and generosity of spirit alone. With the exception of artists, who are forever offering their works for free (in order to find an audience for their creations), few people will just give you good stuff. When someone seems to have no interest in a scheme but is encouraging you to participate, that should raise a red flag. Maybe their hope is that you'll download some kind of software or you'll just provide valuable data. If they don't tell you their interest, you should wonder. Whatever it is, be suspicious of the suspiciously disinterested offer.

Final Words of Wisdom

The wisest among us know that these things -- easy wins, quick bucks, even luck -- are illusions. Sometimes when you work very hard at a thing and try a lot of angles, you succeed. Usually, it involves grief. But if you're careful to avoid wise guys and stay focused on your goals, you may eventually know the secret to success yourself.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you suspect you've been scammed by a con artist, report this to a consumer protection authority and speak to a lawyer. Tell them what happened and learn more about a possible claim. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case.

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