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Internet Fraud

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The Internet is an easy way for unscrupulous people to prey on unsuspecting users to gain financial information, obtain cash, bill for goods and services never provided and dozens of other criminal activities. Anyone who is using the Internet needs to be aware of the "scams" and "cons" that are lurking online.

Online "Scams"

No one with an e-mail address has avoided receiving an unsolicited e-mail touting some "get rich quick" scheme or other fantastic business opportunity. The FTC has identified some of the most prolific scams about which it has received complaints.

  • Fraudulent business opportunities-these e-mails encourage recipients to start up a business with promises of huge profits with just a "small" investment. Many are aimed at persons who wish to work from home or over the Internet. According to the FTC, many of these are illegal pyramid schemes masquerading as legitimate opportunities to earn money.
  • Selling e-mail addresses-a company offers to sell you thousands, if not millions, of e-mail address, so that you can send bulk e-mails to advertise your product or business. The problem with the offer is that bulk e-mail solicitation violates the terms of service of most ISPs. If you attempt to send bulk e-mails, your service provider may shut down your site. Additionally, some states have enacted laws making the sending of unsolicited commercial e-mail illegal.
  • Free goods-if getting a free iPod seems too good to be true, then it is probably a scam. As with other scams, offers of free computers, long-distance calling cards, laptops, cell phones, etc. can be a cover for an illegal pyramid scheme.
  • Guaranteed loans or credit-home equity loans, no-interest credit cards and other offers of credit are typically schemes to obtain application fees. The credit or loan is never granted and your credit rating is damaged because your credit report has been accessed (credit scores can decrease for every application) since you "applied."

Complaints

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) are in partnership to combat Internet fraud. Complaints can be made at the IC3 Web site.