The Better Business Bureau (BBB) investigates thousands of scams every year. What are the top 10 scams for 2012? To create its list, BBB gathers information on scams from consumers, some of whom have been victims of scams; from federal agencies; and from other reliable information sources.
1. Top Overpayment/Fake Check Scam: Car Ads A well-known company is offering $400+ per week to anyone willing to drive around with the company’s logo on their car.
They send you a check to deposit and then direct you to wire part of the payment to the graphic designer who will customize the ad for your vehicle. A week later, the check bounces, the graphic designer is nowhere to be found, and you are out the money you wired.
2. Top Emergency Scam: Grandparent Scam
A grandparent receives a call from a grandchild/niece/nephew/friend who is traveling abroad and gets into a bad situation where he or she needs money right away.
3. Top Employment Scam: Mystery Shopping Many secret shopping job offers are nothing more than a variation of the overpayment/fake check scam. But the Mystery Shopping Providers Association says it’s not the practice of its members to pre-pay shoppers.
4. Top Advance Fee/Prepayment Scam: Nonexistent Loans
In 2012, consumers reported being threatened with lawsuits and law enforcement action if they didn’t pay back loans they claim didn’t belong to them in the first place.
5. Top Phishing Scam: President Obama Will Pay Your Utility Bills
Victims “registered” with an official-looking website and provided everything scammers needed for identity theft purposes, including bank account information.
6. Top Sweepstakes/Lottery Scam: Jamaican Phone Lottery
The caller claims you’ve won a prize but you have to pay a fee in order to collect your winnings.
7. Top Identity Theft Scam: Fake Facebook Tweets
You get a Direct Message from a friend on Twitter with something about a video of you on Facebook. If you click on the link, you get an error message that says you need to update Flash or other video player. But the file isn’t a new version of Flash; it’s a virus or malware that can steal confidential information from your computer or smart phone.
8. Top Home Improvement Scam: Sandy “Storm Chasers”
Following Super Storm Sandy, some legitimate contractors came from other areas for the volume of work available. Yet, others were unlicensed, uninsured and ill-prepared for the work, and some were out-and-out scam artists who took the money and never did the work.
9. Top Sales/Rental Scam: Real Stars, Fake Goods
Some scammers sell cheap knock-offs in front of stadiums, while others set up websites and steal your money.
10. Scam of the Year: Newtown Charity Scams
Within hours of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, CT, social media pages began cropping up dedicated to the child victims.