Community Voices

Watch out for scams that promise riches but lead to you paying

Every year, scam artists victimize thousands of people on the Internet resulting in monetary losses in the millions of dollars. There are many Internet scams used by fraudsters to separate you from your money. Here are three such schemes that are prevalent today.

Lottery Schemes

“This is to inform you of the release of money winnings to you. Your email was randomly selected as the winner and therefore you have been approved for a lump sum payout of $500,000.00. To begin your lottery claim, please contact the processing company selected to process your winnings.”

The processing company will require victim to pay a fee of between $1,000 to $5,000 to initiate processing. Later, addition fee requests may follow.

If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to report it, please file a complaint with WWW.IC3.GOV.

Counterfeit Cashier’s Checks

This scheme targets individuals that use the Internet classified advertisements to sell merchandise. Typically, an interested party located outside the United States contacts the seller. The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in the U.S. that owes him money. As such, he will have the associate send the seller a cashier’s check for the amount owed to the buyer.

However, the amount of the cashier’s check ends up being thousands of dollars more that the price of the merchandise. The seller is instructed to deposit the check and to wire the excess funds back to the buyer or another associate. Only later is the check discovered to be fraudulent and the bank then holds the victim responsible for the full amount of the check.

If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to report it, please file a complaint with WWW.IC3.GOV.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone takes another's personal information to commit theft or fraud. Identity theft is a means to conduct other types of fraud schemes. Typically, the victim is led to believe they are divulging sensitive personal information to a legitimate business, sometimes in response to an email solicitation to update billing or membership information, or as an application to a fraudulent Internet job posting.

If you believe you may have fallen victim to this type of scam and wish to report it, please file a complaint with WWW.IC3.GOV. This information was provided by one of our partners at the Miami FBI Supervisory Special Agent Alfredo Duran who is in charge of investigating consumer fraud scams.

Needless to say these scams are prevalent in our area and we must continue to be vigilante and most important we have to report these scams so that law enforcement can help rid of these people.

Soon everyone will be thinking of vacations, and there are also scams that relate to vacation deals, so please double check when you are looking on line for a good deal, make sure its REAL by calling the location to make sure it exist. I have had several emails regarding this issue, people show up at a “bed and breakfast” hotel and there is no reservation and you are out of money. So please make every effort to check them out.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to carmen@citizenscrimewatch.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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