Caution! Scam-control. Part II

Charity scams

This type of scams can happen 24/7 all year round. The purpose of these scams is to play upon people's heartstrings. But their number increases especially in connection with different natural catastrophes in the world. Cyclone, floods, earthquakes or bushfires? Yes, it's time to help people who are in need! And no, you do not want to “help” some scam projects. So please, be very attentive as there is huge possibility that you will face scammers.

Scam features
  • This charitable act is well-known or on the contrary is not known.
  • The scammers use fake website, which looks almost like the original legitimate charity website. Only one letter can differ and you can easily overlook this mistake.
  • Usually the design of the website is also replica of the original one. The only details which differ are payment details. Besides, scammers usually insist on donations via money transfer.

  • If this happens in person, you can also spot some strange details.
    • The person, who receives donations doesn't have ID or this ID is forged.
    • Scammer doesn't give you any details about the charitable act such as its full name, address and phone number, its tax status.
    • And be sure, that scammer would not like to give you a receipt of your donation.

    • Tips to protect yourself:
      • if you want to help other people, find charitable organizations and offer them help directly.
      • Never give your personal data, details of your credit card or online account to “charities” , unless you are 100% sure that it is legitimate charitable organization.
      • Real charitable organizations are usually registered and you can check their legitimacy at consumers protection agency.
      • If you receive email from such “charities”, do not open them. It is better to delete them instantly.
      • Do not agree on upfront payments via wire transfer or money order (money transfer), as these types of payments are rarely reversible. There is a huge possibility that you will never ever get your money back.
      • If you think that you have donated money to a scam, immediately contact your bank or financial institution with which you tried to send money.

      • Auction scams

        Online auctions are very popular. There you can buy lots of items for great prices. Collectors can find rare things which they will never buy in brick-and-mortar stores. Online auctions provide great opportunity for people to save their precious time and buy all they need online.

        But there where masses can spend money and receive merchandise wirelessly will always be scammers. So online auctions are not exception. Here both buyers and sellers can be scammed. We will classify these cases by the party which is scammed.

        When buyers are scammed:
        • Delusive representation. It is the most simple kind of scam. It means that description (quality, condition) or photos of the item are “slightly” exaggerated.
        • Shipment failure. You buy merchandise from a scammer. When scammer receives money, he disappears and you get nothing.
        • Fake merchandise. This item doesn't exist in reality. The purpose of such scam is to collect money or credit card numbers from incautious users.
        • Counterfeited merchandise and piracy. Sometimes you can buy “antiques” which were, in fact, manufactured this year. You can also become the victim of Internet pirates. Music, videos or software which you purchase on online auctions can be pirated.
        • Unexpected additional fees. When you buy something, you can be later notified about some additional fees which occur suddenly. These can be fees for shipping of postage etc. These fees can appear gradually, so that finally the overall sum which you pay for the merchandise increases a lot.

        • When sellers are scammed:
          • Payment failure. Buyers can use bounced cheques, forged money orders, stolen credit cards to “buy” necessary merchandise. In the end, the seller will receive no money for the item he/she has sent to the “buyer”.
          • Bidding scams. Fraudsters can use lots of fake accounts to increase the price and frighten off all potential customers. Then real bidder reduces the price and receives merchandise at much lower price.
          • “Buy and Switch” scheme.Buyer receives the merchandise but returns it saying that it has been damaged or it just wasn't that what he expected. In fact buyer send back just the similar item. As a result, seller gets back broken item and returns money to buyer.

          • Ways to protect yourself:
            • Read the description carefully. If these is something that you do not understand in the description – do not buy it. If there are some words that hint on the scam – do not buy it. You should always check all details with the seller. Unless the seller gives you clear answer, you shouldn't trust him/her.
            • Browse plenty of auction sites. Most of them work in the same manner, but you should check all of them. Read their terms and conditions, reviews on forums. It can help you to understand which of them is the most reliable one.
            • Check the seller feedback. It is very useful that many auction sites let buyers leave their feedback on particular sellers. So these feedbacks can reveal who is honest seller and who is scammer.
            • Insist on safe payment methods. It is kind of risky to pay via money transfers. Once you pay via Western Union or MoneyGram and you can never ever return you money. It is safe to pay with your credit or debit card. Most of credit/debit cards have fraud protection built in. You can dispute your charges if you prove that you were scammed.
            • It is recommended to use escrow services for very expensive items. The main purpose of escrow services is to set up a contract between buyer and seller. They have to follow it carefully, so that the bargain can be completed: buyer receives the item and the seller receives the payment.

              It works the following way: buyer and seller enter into an agreement concerning the bargain. Buyer sends money to the seller, but escrow, a mediator in this bargain, holds the money, until the buyer receives the merchandise. Also escrow checks the payment which makes the buyer, whether it is valid or not.

              However escrows also have pitfalls. Using fake escrows is a very common type of scam. It is also recommended to search for reliable escrows or use those which are offered by famous online auction websites.
            • Insist on safe shipping. It is better to use traceable methods. If you use untraced methods of shipping you can never prove whether the other side has received item or not. Besides choose insured items. They can be insured by the seller of buy famous and reputable providers (e.g. PayPal).

              Please be careful, all the described scams can happen to you.

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