Most scams can be resumed to the basic principle of Advance Fee scam: in exchange of a merchandise (either cheap or free), a cash prize or an easy task, an advance fee is requested. Once the funds are sent, the reward/product never arrives to its buyer.
We have selected a few of the most common types of online frauds:
By advertising high value animals for free or next to nothing, scammers prey on animal lovers who are on a budget.
So how to identify a fake ad? Most scammers steal professional pictures from reputable breeders' sites and publish them as their own. The pets are usually tiny, perfect and all dressed-up. The most common breeds associated with scams include, among others: English bulldogs, teacup yorkies and chow chow (dogs), persian, bengal and sphynx (cats) and capuchin, spider and pygmy marmoset (monkeys). Keep in mind that these are very expensive and sometimes rare animals and their tempting price might be a trap.
What happens if I contact one of those ads? The seller might send you a sort of form with questions on how good a owner you are. All by mail, by the way, as they will refuse to meet in person or even talk on the phone: they claim they are too busy, that they are overseas, that they've gone deaf after a car crush.
Then they will request you to send them money ASAP (normally via Western Union or Money Gram - where they use fake names to avoid traceability), claiming the pet will be shipped within 24 hours: this is not possible by the way, due to the time it takes to obtain import license and veterinary health certificates.
After you send them the money, pet and seller are awol: the person will most likely never answer your desperate calls and your money will be gone.
But it may not stop there. If he thinks you are a good bait, the mails asking for more money will keep coming: the pet is sick, you'll need to pay the vet's fee. Or you will need to pay for the pet's insurance. And his shots. Then the pet gets stuck in customs, more money has to be sent. Some will even go as far as threatening to euthanize the puppy in order to get the money.
Most people wouldn't consider wiring funds to a stranger they met on the Internet under normal circumstances, but add puppies (or kittens, or other cuddly fuzzy creatures) to the equation, and a tug at the heartstrings can make them forget their usual commonsense precautions.
Patricia M. has shared her story, a classic example of Puppy Scam.
Strays and purebreds can be easily adopted in your neighborhood. You should consider this option instead of making the poor creature endure a long and stressful flight and incurring risk of being scammed yourself. This way you'll spare yourself a lot of headache and will give a deserving (and real) pet a loving home!
Read also: Bulldog Puppy Scam Alert
Much like the pet scam, but with fancy cars, motorbikes, boats and so forth. This is addressed to vehicle aficionados who can't afford their dream ride at full-price. Here enters the scammer.
Similarly, he will tell you a very complicated story. He's overseas and needs you to send money so he will ship the bike. Or he will demand a down payment in order to "hold" the bike. Or that you need to pay a third party who will take care of the shipping.
Why not to pay the shipping price if the bike itself is 1/3 of its current pricing, right? Wrong. You should be wary of this sort of deal. You will most likely never see the bike.
Don't forget that legit sellers won't mind meeting you in person and will choose safe and traceable paying methods.
Work at home scam
This type of scam preys on the unemployed, retired and the stay-at-home who need an extra income.
In exchange of an easy task, like data entry, multi-level marketing and even stuffing envelopes, you are offered a very tempting salary. An advance fee to join in is requested, however. Once the funds are sent, even if the work has started, the victim will not receive the salary.
Even if not all of the work-at-home ads are fake, you should bear in mind that no serious employer will demand a potential employee to pay a fee before starting to work. Not even for training or a starting kit. If he's a serious employer, he will provide everything for you.
One last thing, check the company's references and ask what is their address and phone number. If he refuses, simply walk away.
Read also: Hob-Hunting/Job-Scams
These are but a few of infinite types of scam we all risk to find everyday. Not to mention sales or rental scams, relationship scams etc... However inventive as they are, they have the same basic principle: miraculous offers at minimum effort.
Read also: Q&A on basic scam clues by 419hell.com