Help! I'm in a scam and I don't know how to get out!

Discussion in 'Is this a scam?' started by Gentle Giant, Mar 6, 2007.

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  1. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    Are you stuck in a scam situation? Do you think you might be? Well, below are some common questions and situations which we'll try and answer for you as best we can so that you can get out of the situation.

    Disclaimer: Please note that everyone here is a volunteer and that we give freely of our time. We give you the best advice we can, but each scamming situation is unique. The answers below are general information and SUGGESTIONS, but you need to rely on your own instincts as well. And you should also talk to other people you know like family and friends for advice. We do this as a public service, but there are different laws in different places, and we don't know all of them. If you have a specific question about a specific situation, please feel to contact any admin and we will assist you as best we can.

    1. I think I answered a scam mail. Am I in trouble? Answer.
    2. The scammer wrote back. What do I do now? Answer.
    3. The scammer keeps writing. How do I make him stop? Answer.
    4. The scammer has my real address. Am I in trouble? Answer.
    5. The scammer has my phone number and calls me. How can I make him stop? Answer.
    6. I sent the scammer a copy of my passport or ID. What should I do? Answer.
    7. I sent the scammer my bank account information. What do I do now? Answer.
    8. The scammer deposited money in my account. Is it mine? Answer.
    9. The scammer sent me a webpage link to open a bank account. Should I? Answer.
    10. The scammer asked for my credit card number and I gave it to him. What do I do? Answer.
    11. I wired money to a scammer. Can I get it back? Answer.
    12. The scammer wants to send me merchandise. What should I do? Answer.
    13. The scammer sent merchandise to me. What should I do now? Answer.
    14. The scammer sent me a check/cheque or bank draft. What should I do with it? Answer.
    15. The scammer sent me a money order. What should I do with it? Answer.
    16. The scammer sent me a package to forward. What should I do with it? Answer.
    17. I met someone on the net and they love me. Do they really? Answer.
    18. My friend sent me a web camera. What do I do now? Answer.
    19. A company/person says they can help me recover money I lost. Can they? Answer.
    20. An overseas company wants to get me a visa to work in their country. Will they? Answer
    21. I’m ignoring the scammer’s emails but I still get some official looking email. What should I do? Answer.
    22. I received an email from a government official. Read more.
    23. I received an email or a phone call from a diplomat. Read more.
     
  2. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    I think I answered a scam mail. Am I in trouble?

    Not necessarily. Although I have no statistical studies to back this up, I would estimate that there is only about a 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 chance that the scammer will actually write back to you. This is based on my own observations.

    Sometimes scammers will simply not answer their mail. They may get busy doing something else. They might forget the password to their email acount and have to start over, or they might lose their email account if the provider closes it down. Or they might not actually be interested in you.

    If you answered a possible scam mail, don't worry unless you receive a reply. If you do receive one, just mark it as spam so that it bounces if they try and email you again. Or if you can "bounce" an email back, bounce it back to the sender. Don't reply to the email whatever you do. Delete it and ignore any more emails from the scammer.
     
  3. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer wrote back. What do I do now?

    Well, the easiest thing is to just delete the email and never respond to it. The scammer will probably send you more emails but eventually he will probably get tired and give up on you. Scammers are looking for willing victims. If you don't answer their emails they will eventaully move on to greener pastures.

    If you have a yahoo account, mark the email as spam, and that should prevent any other emails from the scammer ever showing up in your inbox. If you have any other provider that lets you "bounce" an email back to the sender, bounce it back to the scammer.

    Just because you get an email back from the scammer doesnt mean you need to answer it. In fact, you shouldn't because you will give away more information than you want to. And there's no need to write the scammer to tell him he is a scammer. He already knows that. And telling him that you know he is a scammer accomplishes nothing. Resist the temptation to respond.

    Delete it, mark it as spam, and don't open or reply to them.
     
  4. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer keeps writing. How do I make him stop?

    You can't make him do anything, but you can discourage him.

    As above, the best thing is to stop reading his emails. Mark them as spam so they are returned, bounce them, or just delete them. If you don't answer their emails they will eventaully move on to greener pastures.

    Please do not read or respond to them. The scammer is going to try to cajole, persuade, shame, and even threaten you in order to get you to respond. If you are deleting the emails then you don't have to deal with what he says. He is going to invent more and more of a story to press you into responding. Remember, he wants to steal your money. Ignoring him is the best way to keep your money. And you should definitely quit communicating with the scammer especially if he has your real name and address or phone number.

    No reponse is the best way to discourage him.
     
  5. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer has my real address. Am I in trouble?

    Well, it's not good, but it isn't the end of the world. If you do not answer emails, you will discourage him from contacting you. If you get snail mail from the scammer, throw it away. Better yet, take it to your local police and let them handle it.

    Giving away your address to a scammer for any reason is not a good thing to do. If you live in North America, you may think you are safe. But keep in mind that there are gangs of scammer-criminals operating in Houston, Atlanta, and Toronto. If they want to pay you a visit, they can do that, and that isn't something you want. If you are in Europe, you may think you are safe. But keep in mind that there are gangs of scammer-criminals operating in London, Madrid and Amsterdam. They could pay you a visit too. If you live in Asia, maybe you think you are safe, but we know there are scammers operating in Japan, so you may not be as safe as you think.

    The point is, stop communicating with the scammers. Don't say anything to them. You cannot say anything to them that will make anything better. You will just keep digging yourself a bigger hole. You might, emphasize might, be in danger. Don't panic, just stop all communication.
     
  6. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer has my phone number and calls me. How can I make him stop?

    You can't easily, but you can discourage him. Not answering the telephone when it rings is one way, although a bit annoying for friends and family. Another is to have your phone number changed. You can contact the phone company and tell them you are getting annoying calls and ask for a number change, if you live in a country where that is easily done. If you have a cell phone, same thing. Ask your provider for a new number. Some phone sysyems provide caller ID. Refuse calls from unidentified people.

    Remember too that these calls may not be coming from all that far away. You could be getting a call from a scammer in North America if you live in North America. If you are in Europe you could also be getting a call from nearer than you think.

    Scammers love to get your phone number because they like the personal touch. It's easier for them to steal your money if they can talk to you on the phone. It's much harder to say "no" to someone on the phone.

    In the future, don't give your number to anyone except family, friends, and people at work that you trust.

    Don't answer the calls, and that will discourage him. If you don't answer the phone the scammer will eventaully move on to greener pastures.
     
  7. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    I sent the scammer a copy of my passport or ID. What should I do?

    We hope you really didn't do that. Unfortunately we know that people do.

    It is not good to send a copy of your passport to a scammer. One thing they can do is to use the copy as a template to make fake passports to use to scam other people. Our section on passports http://antifraudintl.org/forumdisplay.php?f=13 is full of fake passports made from passport templates. Our section on Fake ID's is full of fakes made from templates http://antifraudintl.org/forumdisplay.php?f=17

    The other thing a scammer can do is to actually use your passport or ID as his own, in short, he can steal your identity. He can set up an email under your name and use your name and passport to scam people. You don't need the problem of having your name associated with scamming.

    What to do:
    If you have sent a copy of your passport or ID, the thing you need to do is to contact the issuing agency as soon as you can. Tell them what happened. In some cases you can get a new passport. If you sent a copy of your driver's licence, get a new licence. Or get a copy of any kind of new ID.

    If you get new ID, you have learned not to ever send a copy of it to someone on the internet, no matter what. No legitimate person will ask you to email a copy of your ID. Scammers will ask you to do that.
     
  8. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    I sent the scammer my bank account information. What do I do now?

    Oops. Well as you have probably figured out that was not a good idea.

    What to do:
    The first thing is to immediately, like ASAP, like today, contact your local bank or branch bank office. Tell the manager what has happend, that a scammer has your bank account information. That way the bank knows to keep an eye on your account to watch for any kind of unusual transaction.

    The next thing is that you should probably ask to have an entirely new account set up. This can be a hassle because you have to get new checks, or a new ATM card, etc., but the hassle is better than the alternative of possibly having money stolen from your bank account.

    Can scammers really steal money from my account?
    Yes, they can. Once they have your bank information and account number, it is possible they could access your bank account. They can sometimes do this remotely, or they might have a friend actually working in the bank who can do it.

    Never, ever give your bank account information out to people on the internet, and especially do not give it to a scammer, no matter what.
     
  9. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer deposited money in my account. Is it mine?

    No it isn't, because the money will not be in your acount long.

    Sometimes the scammers will promise to do a wire transfer and send some money to you as a sign of good faith on their part. They want to show you how "real" this business of theirs is and how sincere they are. After all, they are sending money to you and they have no idea what you might do once you have it. But....there really isn't any money, and if you tried to withdraw it all, you would probably find that you have problems doing that. Putting money in your account is called "flash" money, and it's the same as any con artist: they show you a little to convince you you can make a lot. But really, the only money involved here is yours.

    A scammer may also have a friend in your area who might depost a check in your account, again to show you some "flash". But the money won't stay there, because any check deposited might be fake or stolen. It might look like your balance increased but it won't stay that way for long. As they become more skilled in scamming, some scammers may have actually placed an ally in that bank who might be able to access your account and alter it so that there appears to be a deposit and a larger balance.

    If you find yourself in this situation, you should immediately contact your bank and tell them what is happening. Don't rely on the good faith of a criminal or a gang of criminals. Tell your bank everything that has happened and don't try to withdraw any of that money. Any shortage in your account, because of an overdraft or a returned check, is going to be made up by you. No one else.

    If you get money like this, imagine that it is just "pretend" money because it is. You aren't going to get it, you can't keep it, and you aren't going to get millions of dollars from a scammer either.
     
  10. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer sent me a webpage link to open a bank account. Should I?

    No. You should not even open the webpage, because about 99.9999% of the time it's going to be a fake bank and a fake webpage. It may not be safe to click on the link because you never know what will happen once you do. You might be installing some nasty little things on your computer.

    Needless to say, you should not open an account at the "bank". All you will do is give a lot of personal information to the scammer, and you don't want the scammer to have that information.

    Scammers make fake bank websites?
    All the time. We have a section, (click here) which features some fake bank websites as we become aware of them at AFI. Fake bank websites can be killed.

    Please do not open a "bank" webpage the scammers send you, and never try to open an "account" with a scam bank.
     
  11. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer asked for my credit card number and I gave it to him. What do I do?

    This is simple. You need to immediately, like right now, contact the company (Visa, MC, American Express, JCB etc.) that issued the credit card. They all have local numbers or toll free numbers you can call. The number should be on the back of the card. You need to do this because the scammers are going to start using your card to charge things with. You don't want to be responsible for that. It's the same thing as a lost or stolen credit card. In this case, it's stolen, although you still have the card.

    If you don't, the scammer can charge up to your credit card limit. As an example, let's says you have a zero balance and a $1,000 limit. The scammer can charge up to $1,000 and you're going to be responsible to pay the card company. That means you are going to pay $1,000 plus any interest payments. So the scammer has just stolen $1,000+ from you. Not a lot of fun. Not to mention that it can ruin your credit rating. Wow, if you had like a gold card, think of the fun the scammer could have with that. You won't have any fun but the criminal will.

    Getting a new credit card is not a lot of fun, but it's better than the alternative. And in the future, please don't give out your credit card information to someone on the internet that you don't know or trust.
     
  12. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    I wired money to a scammer. Can I get it back?

    That depends. The scammer probably asked you to send money by Moneygram or Western Union.

    If you sent the money but the scammer not has picked it up yet, you can contact MG or WU and you should be able to get the money back. Check your local phone book for the office near you. Or see if there is a number on the receipt you got.
    The Moneygram webpage is here: http://www.moneygram.com/index.htm
    The Western Union webpage is here: http://www.westernunion.com/info/selectCountry.asp

    If you sent the money and the scammer has picked it up, it's gone. You will not be able to get it back.

    If you have sent money by a bank-to-bank wire transfer, you can go to your bank and ask them to resverse the transaction. If the scammer has not taken the money out of his bank account it is possible to reverse it. If he has withdrawn the money, it's gone.

    In any case, if you lose money, you should contact your local law enforcement and file a report with them. They need to at least know what has happened. And they will want to see hard copies of the emails, so print them out and take them with you. Also, they need to know any information which could help to identify the scammer(s) at the other end.
     
  13. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer wants to send me merchandise. What should I do?

    If you have a scammer who wants to send anything to you, the best thing you can do is refuse to accept it. Then you should cease all communication with the scammer.

    If a scammer wants to send you something, there is a very good chance that whatever he will send is either stolen or may have been paid for with a stolen credit card. You would be receiving possibly stolen merchandise, and that's something you don't even want to think about.

    In addition, in order to send something to you, the scammer will want you to give your address and probably your phone number. If he does not already have these, you certainly do not want to give that information to him. That is not information you want any scammer to have.

    If you are at a point where a scammer wants to send something to you, no matter what it is, you are getting deep into a scam and you need to get out fast. The only way to do this is to break off all communication. Get a new email, get a new phone number if you need to, but please stop communicating with the scammer. And never accept anything from them, even if it's flowers.
     
  14. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer sent merchandise to me. What should I do now?

    The answer here is pretty much the same as the answer above ^^^^^. Whatever the scammer sent you, you don't want it. The reason is simple: very likely the merchandise is either stolen or has been paid for with a fake credit card or a fake check. It's "hot" (stolen) merchandise, and you really don't want that kind of stuff. Please do not ever accept any package or merchandise from some you know or suspect is a scammer.

    Sometimes you may tell a scammer not to send you something but they will do it anyway. These are some suggestions for what you can do.

    1. If the delivery company is standing at your door with a package, the best thing to do is to refuse delivery of the package. If a scammer gets his package back, then you can always tell the scammer that the delivery company caught the shipment and recalled it as fraudulent. And tell the scammer not to send you anything else ever again. If you do this, you will not be a party to what could be a crime (receiving stolen merchandise) and you should not have problems with local law enforcement.

    2. If you have the package but haven't opened it, call the delivery service, have them come and pick it up, and have them mark it "return to sender" and send it back. If the scammer contacts you, tell him that you refuse to accept anything from him and tell him not to send anything else.

    3. If you have a package and you opened it, you can still call the delivery company and make an arrangement to have it sent back. Tell them you suspect it might be stolen merchandise and they will understand and they will return the items or return the shipment to the sender. And if the scammer contacts you about "his" merchandise, tell him you gave it back to the shipper and let the scammer sort it out with them.

    4 (a). If you received a package and you opened it because you didn't know who it was from, you have a couple of choices. You can repackage it and call the shipping company and "return to sender". If the scammer asks about the package, tell him it was not delivered and let him take it up with the shipping company.

    4 (b). The other option is to take the package to your local law enforcement and give it to them, telling them you think it might be stolen merchandise. Be sure to take ALL paperwork on the shipment and give them hard copies of all the emails to and from the scammer so that the law enforcement people can understand that you are not a party to receiving stolen merchandise. If you take it to the local law enforcement people, get a receipt from them for the merchandise. The receipt is important because when the scammer asks about the merchandise, you can tell him that the merchandise was seized by law enforcement and you can even fax him a copy of the receipt the law enforcement people gave you, if the scammer insists on proof. (Please do NOT fax the scammer from your home or office. Please go to a public place with fax machines and do it from there). You don't want the scammer just to think your kept whatever he sent you.

    5. If the scammers sent you flowers, refuse them, if you can. They were probably paid for with a stolen credit card.

    The scammer may accuse you of stealing his things. This isn't good because the scammer must have your name and address in order to send things to you. That means a criminal knows where you live. You can simply tell the scammer that you do not want any further contact with him, and to please stop communicating with you. And then please stop communicating with him. Please don't open his emails, don't accept his phone calls. The scammer may even threaten you with legal action, but that means nothing. He is a criminal and he is not going to go to the police and tell them what he has done. If you send his merchandise back he may not be happy, but he can't really complain that you are not honest. If you tell him that the local law enforcement have seized it, he can take the matter up with your local law enforcement.

    Please do not ever accept any package or merchandise from some you know or suspect is a scammer.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2007
  15. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer sent me a check/cheque or bank draft. What should I do with it?

    This isn’t a good thing because, once again, a scammer has your address. If you know or suspect the person who sent the check/cheque or bank draft is a scammer, you can be sure the check/cheque or bank draft is forged or stolen. What you do with that check/cheque or bank draft depends in part on where you live.

    It is generally a crime in almost all jurisdictions (state, province, country) for you to possess a forged or stolen check/cheque or bank draft. Depending on where you live, the local police may be friendly or not. In some countries, you do not want to do anything to attract the attention of the police, like taking a forged or stolen check/cheque or bank draft into the local police station and giving it to them. It would be better to get rid of the check/cheque or bank draft altogether. One thing you could do with it is to send it to the bank the check/cheque or bank draft is drawn on and ask them if it’s real or not. The name and address of the bank should be printed right on the check/cheque or bank draft and you can just put it in an envelope and mail it to them. Another thing to do with it, if you think it is forged or stolen, is to simply refuse delivery if possible. Have your post office mark it “return to sender” and send it back to the scammer. In no case should you ever attempt to negotiate (use) a forged or stolen check/cheque or bank draft.

    In other jurisdictions, assuming the police in your area are “user friendly” you can take the check/cheque or bank draft and give it to them, along with hard copies of the emails from the scammer, if possible. The scammer won’t be happy in that case but you can always tell him the police have the check/cheque or bank draft and that the scammer can contact your local police and take the matter up with them. The scammer won’t do that. Another possibility is to simply refuse to accept the check/cheque or bank draft if you can. Again, in no case should you ever attempt to negotiate (use) a forged or stolen check/cheque or bank draft.

    The reason you don’t want to try and negotiate (use) a forged or stolen check/cheque or bank draft is simple: it’s a crime to knowingly do so. If you even suspect there is something wrong about the check/cheque or bank draft you got, take it to your bank and tell them the situation. Don’t just deposit the check/cheque or bank draft and hope for the best. Or take it to the police and tell them the situation. Let them look into it. It’s better for you than the alternative, which is to be considered a party to a crime. You could end up like the poor guy in this news story, http://antifraudintl.org/threads/u-s-a-check-from-a-scammer-bounces-victim-into-jail.714/. An innocent victim, but one who still winds up with a criminal record hanging around his neck, following him around the rest of his life.

    If you received such a check/cheque or bank draft and you already deposited it in your bank, you should immediately go to the bank and tell them you suspect that the check/cheque or bank draft was forged or stolen. They can put a hold on your account so that the funds are not available until the bank clears the situation up. The scammer is going to pressure you to send him the money but you can simply tell the scammer that the bank is holding the funds and won’t release them to you. Even better is to cease communicating with the scammer altogether.

    If you received such a check/cheque or bank draft, deposited it, and sent money to the scammer, you still need to immediately contact your bank and let them know what the situation is. Tell them about the check/cheque or bank draft, show them copies of the emails from the scammer if you have them. If, or most likely when the check/cheque or bank draft is returned as forged or stolen, the bank should be willing to work out some kind of repayment plan for you, because you will have a big hole in your bank account.

    If you get a check/cheque or bank draft from a scammer or someone you think is a scammer, consider it forged or stolen, and consider that check/cheque or bank draft to be dangerous to you and deal appropriately with it.
     
  16. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer sent me a money order. What should I do with it?

    The answer here is basically the same as the answer above. ^^^^^

    There is one difference here, however. If you live in the U.S. and you have received a United States Postal Money Order which you think is forged or stolen, you don’t want to hold on to that one either. It’s a serious crime. In this case, you should immediately take the money order to the nearest post office and turn it over to a United States Postal Inspector. Tell the inspector you think the money order may be forged or stolen, and take along copies of the emails from the scammer if possible.

    If you received a money order you think might be forged or stolen and you already deposited it in your bank, you should immediately go to the bank and tell them about the situation. They can put a hold on your account so that the funds are not available until the bank clears the situation up. The scammer is going to pressure you to send him the money but you can simply tell the scammer that the bank is holding the funds and won’t release them to you. Even better is to cease communicating with the scammer altogether.

    If you received a money order you think might be forged or stolen, deposited it, and sent money to the scammer, you still need to immediately contact your bank and let them know what the situation is. Tell them about the money order, and show them copies of the emails from the scammer if you have them. If, or when the money order is returned as forged or stolen, the bank should be willing to work out some kind of repayment plan for you, because you will have a hole in your bank account.

    The same rule applies here as above: if you get a money order from a scammer or someone you think is a scammer, consider it forged or stolen, and consider that money order to be dangerous to you and deal appropriately with it.
     
  17. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    The scammer sent me a package to forward. What should I do with it?

    Basically, you don't want to have such a package. If the scammer wants it forwarded to him or to some other "friend" of his, you should not ever do that. The reason is the same as a couple of the answers above: any package or merchandise you receive from a scammer has most likely been paid for with either a forged or stolen negotiable instrument (check/cheque, bank draft, or money order) or was paid for with a fake or stolen credit card.

    If you have a package or merchandise the scammer wants you to send to him or to his "friend" (who will actually be a criminal accomplice) the best thing to do with it is to take it to your local law enforcement, assuming they are "user friendly". Also take hard copies of the emails you have gotten from the scammers and explain to the law enforcement people what is happening. If they are "user friendly", they will be helpful because you are reporting a probable crime. It's better for you to report this to law enforcement yourself rather than have them come looking for you after they get a report from a credit card company or a bank.

    If law enforcment in your country is not "user friendly" the best thing to do is to return that package to wherever it came from. Don't open it, and have it marked "return to sender" or "refused". Don't even think about keeping it: it's stolen merchandise.

    Why would a scammer want me to forward a package to him? That's kind of strange.
    Yes, until you think about it from the scammer's perspective. Since whatever is in the package is probably stolen, you provide an extra layer of protection for the scammer/criminal. If whatever it is has been paid for in a fraudulent manner, law enforcement is going to look for the closest person to arrest, and that's YOU. They aren't going to bother trying to arrest someone living off in some other far-off country. They don't have the time and resources for that.

    Another reason scammers do this is because some businesses are not very willing to ship anything to some countries. That's because these countries are noted for extremely high levels of corruption and, yes, scamming. Businesses have been burned too many times. If the scammer has something sent to you and then you send it to the scammer, it looks like it is coming from a private person and not from a business. The business is shipping something to you, and you probably live in a "safe" country to ship things to. The scammer gets the package and you get to deal with law enforcement.

    If the scammer asks you to forward something to him or to a friend, please don't ever do it. It's not worth the problems you could have.
     
  18. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    I met someone on the net and they love me. Do they really?

    If you are very, very, very certain about this person's true identity, 110% confident, then congratulations to you. You are part of the net community who find their happiness in cyberspace.

    If you are not completely confident, then read on. I do need to warn you that you may discover something very similar to your situation. You may or may not have sent money, but the emotional loss you may feel can be even more devastating than the financial loss. I must caution you that we are not professional counselors, and we can't do much except to recommend that you seek professional help in your local area if you feel that you need it.

    If you have seen a profile on a singles or dating site, you might be quite impressed with the person. Scammers, however, literally seed numerous dating sites looking for potential victims. They have no preference for race, religion, age, gender, or sexual preference. They want to steal money.

    If a person contacts you, obvious questions to ask are things about where they live etc., jobs, friends, hobbies, and so on. If the answers start to sound a little unusual, that should be a sign for you to become more cautious. Your instincts may be telling you this. Listen to them.

    Especially if you have met someone via a chat program, it gets easier to tell if something is wrong with the picture. Many scammers love to use yahoo mail and so they use Yahoo Instant Messenger to chat online. If you chat with someone on YIM, you may notice that they seem to disappear for a while, like they left the computer and went somewhere else. This is because they did. Scammers are working from a script and they don't remember their lines. They have to go check the script or check with another senior scammer.

    Many times if you have a scammer on your hand, you will find the basic story line is similar: an engineer (they love engineers), from New York or Florida (they love those states), but working in Africa (only temporarily). They are widowed, have one child, 2 children, one child is ill; the child is not ill. You may also notice as you start to chat that their age changes: they're 36, no wait, 44, no wait, 45. If you find someone like this, you have a scammer on your hands. The best thing to do is end the chat and ignore them. Don't respond to chat messages or emails.

    If they direct you to a profile and you look at it, it may seem rather odd. Look carefully at height, age, income level, educational background. Does it really sound right? If you are chatting with them and they say they are from New York (and you know New York) ask them some questions. Are the answers wrong? Sometimes they will tell you they are American but they've been living and grew up in Europe (so they don't know the answer to those American questions). That's another sign of a scammer.

    If you continue the chatting relationship what will eventually happen is that the child (children) become desperately ill (either in the US or Africa). Your friend is going to have money orders (large amounts of money) but will tell you they can't cash them (are there no banks in Africa? Of course there are.) If the person really has a money order they would have no problem cashing it at a real African bank. But you're dealing with a scammer and they stay away from banks because banks require real ID. The scammer is going to want to send the money order to you, run it through your bank, and wire most of the money (by Western Union or Moneygram) to them. At this point you really need to simply refuse to do that for two reasons. The first is that the money order is going to be forged and you will have a lot of problems if you accept it. The second is that you will give away your address to a scammer, and you don't want to do that. (see answers to questions about accepting checks, bank drafts, or money orders).

    Another tactic is for the scammer to want your address to so they can send you flowers because they love you sooooo much. Again, you don't want to do this because you will be giving your address to a scammer. Also, those flowers are probably going to be paid for with a fake or stolen credit card. A nice gift, those flowers, but you don't need that problem. It's also possible they're going to want to send you a nice present because they love you even more and more every day (they press all the right romance buttons). You really don't want to accept whatever the scammer wants to send (see answers above to accepting merchandise).

    Of course, it is always possible they'll simply ask you to send money to them, yes, by Western Union or Moneygram, because _________ (fill in the blank). The scammer will play on your sympathy because she/he is simply out of money and desperately needs your help. If you love me honey, please help me! You need to stop things right there. Your scammer has probably told you they work for some major company. If your friend is really out of money, their company is going to back them up. You don't need to. You have a scammer on your hands and your best move is to drop it.

    At this point you may be saying to yourself, "Oh no! This is me!". We hope you aren't at this point, but if you are, or if you have sent money or received a money order or merchandise, there are some suggestions above. But even worse are going to be your emotions. The first thing you should not do is to blame yourself: "How could I be so stupid?". Well, you aren't stupid. You have run into something you may not have experienced before and you haven't developed any skills to cope with a scammer. (Maybe that's why you are here). This is when the best we can do for you is to suggest you cease all communications with the scammer and direct you to another location if you need further help, counselling, or other emotional support. We are aware of several victim support sites we can direct you to. Also we suggest if you need professional help (I'm repeating myself, repeating myself) you seek out professional help in your community.

    We truly hope you never find yourself in this kind of situation. But if you do, as devastating as it may seem at the moment, the sun will still come up, and you can recover and become a stronger and better person for it. We sincerely hope you are able to take those steps to do so. Learning more is one of them. If we can help you any further by directing you to some other sites, please don't hesitate to contact us. That's why we're here.
     
  19. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    My friend sent me a web camera. What do I do now?

    The main answer here is the same as for questions 12 and 13 (receiving merchandise): you don’t want that webcam. It is quite possible that it’s been paid for in a fraudulent manner and you don’t want to even deal with that possibility.

    A new twist in the merchandise scam has been that some romance scammers have been sending webcams to their “friend” (you), and it’s often to women, the better to chat with. And romance scammers know how to push the right buttons.

    “Oh baby, I just want to hear your sweet voice, Oh wow baby, you look so good. You're so hot baby. Ooh yeah. Oh honey, I’m in love. Can you show me a little more? More. Oh baby, more…ooh yeah, more. More. Come on honey, no one is watching, it’s just us. You love me don’t you? I love you! More…more. Oh yeah baby, I’m so excited….and…”

    …and, your friend is busy making screen shots of all those nice pictures you just posed for and saving them on his computer. So now someone has some possible semi-nude or nude photographs of you on his computer, which, if you’re lucky will just stay there in his computer. If you’re not so lucky, he’s going to share them with his friends and your pictures could start floating around all over the net. Even worse, your “friend” may flip-flop on you and tell you that he wants you to send $ooo.oo to him (by Western Union of course) or else he’s going to post them on the internet along with your name and send copies to everyone you know and he knows.

    Aside from whatever financial loss you may suffer, even more devastating is going to be learning that your “friend” is nothing more than a scammer and a common blackmailer. And, as you are probably aware, once you pay money to a blackmailer that is rarely the end of it: the blackmailer has a gold mine (you) and he’s going to take you for every cent you have. You are going to pay and pay and pay and…..and there are even worse things they could do with your picture and a nice little photochop program.

    If you have found yourself this deep into a scam, there are still a couple of things you can do. One thing you should not do is to send money to the scammer/blackmailer because that won’t solve your problem. There are also some suggestions for romance scam victims in the previous answer above ^^^^. If you are in North America, this is the time to contact law enforcement. You can start by filing a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (run by the FBI) to investigate cyber crime http://www.ic3.gov or if you’re in Canada, file a report with the R.C.M.P. at http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/. For other law enforcement agencies, see our section on Police Links http://antifraudintl.org/forumdisplay.php?f=43). Then file a report with your local law enforcement agency (assuming they are user-friendly).

    If your mother ever told you as a child, “don’t accept candy from strangers”, the same still applies today, “don’t accept webcams from strangers”, no matter how much they claim to love you.
     
  20. Gentle Giant

    Gentle Giant Giant Admin for a Day Staff Member

    A company/person says they can help me recover money I lost. Can they?

    There are two scenarios here, and the answers are not very likely, and absolutely not.

    In the first scenario, you may have been contacted by someone who says they can help you recover money you lost in a scam. There are companies who claim to be able to do this. They may be entirely legitimate, but I cannot speak from any personal experience. What I do know is that they are going to charge you a percentage of the amount of money they recover, assuming they actually CAN recover money. The problem here is that in order for them to do this, there has to be money to recover. This means that a law enforcement or financial services agency must have recovered some kind of assets from a scammer and they must be willing to give this money back to victims if the victims can prove their claims. Assets would include cash in a bank or a car, house etc, that would be “liquidâ€, that is, could be easily turned into cash by selling it. If there are no assets, if there is no money, you aren’t going to recover anything no matter who does the legwork for you. 100% of nothing = nothing. 75% of nothing still equals nothing. So any such company that promises to recover money for you is one that you need to do some detective work on your own. You should check them out thoroughly before you ever consider doing any business with them. In this case the answer to the question “can they†is: not very likely.

    The second scenario is the really bad one. If you have gotten an email from someone who “claims†to work for any government agency in Nigeria or elsewhere, you are being set up for the “money recovery scamâ€. In this case, if you have sent some (or a lot of) money to a scammer, it’s very likely that the very same scammer is going to come back to you 6 months later to try and steal more money from you. That’s because this is, yes, once again, an advance fee scam. These “government†officials are going to throw lots of legal things at you, ask you to pay for this and that, and in the end you will only give more money to scammers. The email you get may even sound vaguely scary from a legal point of view. It may suggest that YOU have been doing something illegal. You haven’t of course, you’ve merely been a victim. But they want to scare you into responding, or hold out false hope for you that you can get your money back. You simply can’t. In this case the answer to the question “can they†is: absolutely not.

    If you get an email like this and you really can’t decide if it’s for real or not, you can always post the email in our section “Is this a Scam?†and we’ll look at it. I hate to sound like a wet blanket but your chances of ever recovering money you have sent to a scammer are virtually non-existent. We’re sorry about your loss, but it’s gone, and you need to move on in life. Don’t get your hopes up because you may only get burned a second time, and you really don’t want that.
     
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