Home Blog Financial Fraud Top 10 scams for 2023
Top 10 scams for 2023

Top 10 scams for 2023

1. Tech support scams

Reported countries: India and Pakistan. In many cases, scammers used U.S. VOIP phone numbers.
Damages reported: $100-$1000 and the cost of real technical support after fixing the damaged computer. As scammers usually ask for payment via credit card, many victims have also reported having their identities stolen afterward.

Victims have reported damages ranging from $100-$1000, as well as additional costs for real technical support to fix the compromised computer. Furthermore, since scammers often demand payment through credit cards, many victims have reported having their identities stolen as well.

It is highly unusual for a PC manufacturer or tech support company to contact non-clients and inform them of an immediate threat to their computers, requiring remote access to address the issue. Despite this, many individuals have fallen prey to this scam.

Typically operating out of India, scammers impersonate big-name tech companies and inform victims that their computers are either already infected or about to be infected with malware capable of causing significant harm, such as identity theft or operating system corruption.

The scammer will then urge users to grant remote access to their computers to troubleshoot and resolve the issue. Scammers leverage these opportunities to infect systems with malware or cause other forms of damage. Alternatively, they may direct users to third-party websites that result in damage. All of these actions serve to provide the scammer with access to the victim’s computer, thereby creating errors and allowing them to charge for unnecessary repair services.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, ScamGuard advises never to grant remote access to anyone. Instead, it is recommended to employ the services of a local computer repair company whenever required.

2. Fake/counterfeit merchandise scams

Reported countries: China
Damages reported: $100-$1000. As scammers usually ask for payment via credit card, victims have also reported identity theft at a later time.

In today’s online marketplace, distinguishing between a legitimate e-commerce site and a fraudulent one established to pilfer an individual’s funds or identity can be an arduous task.

Scammers, primarily operating from China, create generic online stores that either sell counterfeit products or mimic the websites of reputable name-brand companies. These fake sites entice customers by offering name-brand items at significantly lower prices.

The ultimate objective of these scammers is to acquire their victims’ credit card information, which they then use to carry out fraudulent purchases or sell the information on the black market. In some instances, the fraudsters even ship fake or counterfeit products to their victims.

As the merchandise ships from international locations, victims are often oblivious to any wrongdoing until several weeks have elapsed. While several brand companies may eventually shut down these illicit operations, it is frequently too late for those who have already been scammed.

3. Pets-for-sale scams

Reported countries: Unknown
Damages reported: $200-$2000

The illusion of purchasing cuddly and adorable puppies, kittens, and other pets online is a perilous scam that has caused significant harm to countless individuals.

Perpetrators of pet-for-sale fraud create counterfeit websites that purport to represent pet adoption or animal nurseries. These websites offer a vast array of pets for adoption or sale at prices well below market value, and some even present puppies for free to lure unsuspecting victims.

The scam entails instructing victims to pay for expenses related to processing and transporting the pets, such as insurance and shipping costs. To complete their purchase or pay their fees, victims are typically required to use non-refundable payment methods that resemble cash, including but not limited to Moneygram, Western Union, Vanilla prepaid cards, or wire transfers to foreign bank accounts.

ScamGuard urges individuals to avoid purchasing pets online without first examining them in person.

4. Grant scams

Reported countries: India and Pakistan
Damages reported: $100-$2000+

Grant scams, a fraudulent scheme in which scammers impersonate representatives of government agencies or charitable organizations offering free grant money to individuals or businesses, are a pervasive threat. These malevolent actors often claim that the grants can be used for a wide range of purposes, such as paying off debts or launching a new business. They assert that the application process is straightforward and easily navigable, luring unsuspecting victims into their trap.

However, the truth is that authentic government grants are subject to stringent criteria, requiring extensive documentation and review, and are usually inaccessible for personal use. There are also no assurances that a particular person or enterprise will receive any funding. Moreover, legitimate government agencies will never ask for payment in exchange for submitting a grant application.

Scammers frequently prey on the most vulnerable members of society, such as senior citizens or those with low incomes. They employ high-pressure tactics to persuade these individuals to surrender personal information, such as bank account or credit card details. In some instances, they might demand payment for “processing fees” or other administrative expenses, which they insist are necessary to obtain the grant funds.

Once these malevolent actors have succeeded in obtaining payment or personal information, they may use it to perpetrate identity theft or other forms of financial fraud. Furthermore, the victims may become targets for additional scams or fraudulent offers in the future, compounding the harm caused by the initial grant scam.

5. Collection scams

Reported countries: USA, India, Pakistan
Damages reported: $100-$2000+

Some fraudulent individuals possess knowledge of collection agencies’ authority to contact consumers who owe money to them or their affiliated companies. These criminals exploit this understanding to perpetrate collection agency scams and obtain funds illicitly.

By impersonating a non-existent collection agency or even an authoritative body such as the United States Attorney General’s office, scammers place unsolicited calls to unsuspecting individuals and coerce them into making payments by threatening legal action or workplace embarrassment.

In some cases, the scammers support their claims with actual details about outstanding loans, making their demands appear more convincing. These scams can persist for an extended period, with victims enduring repeated harassment until they finally acquiesce and pay a fee.

The scammers may even repeat their tactics with the same victims or sell the obtained information to other fraudulent organizations to continue the cycle. Additionally, the scammers may demand non-returnable forms of payment such as Moneygram, Western Union, Vanilla, and wire transfer.

6. House/vacation property rental scams

Reported countries: Unknown
Damages reported: $500-$3000+

Fraudsters utilize online classified advertisements platforms like Craigslist and Backpage to promote properties they do not possess by displaying appealing images and elaborate descriptions. These ads are usually linked to affluent, desirable, or low-crime-rate neighborhoods and offer prices substantially lower than the average rental rates in the area.

To avoid detection, scammers leverage VOIP numbers from foreign countries and text messaging instead of in-country phone-based communication to interact with potential buyers and renters. Furthermore, these nefarious individuals request payments solely via non-returnable channels like Moneygram, Western Union, Vanilla, and wire transfer.

7. Loan scams

Reported countries: USA, India, Pakistan
Damages reported: $500-$3000+

A loan scam is a fraudulent scheme where the perpetrator advertises a loan with favorable terms and conditions and charges upfront fees from unsuspecting victims. The scammer may promise quick approval, low-interest rates, or other attractive benefits to lure the victims into paying the upfront fees. However, after receiving the fees, the scammer never delivers the loan, leaving the victims with no recourse to recover their money.

It is important to note that charging upfront fees for a loan is illegal, and legitimate lenders do not require such fees. Therefore, individuals should exercise caution when dealing with lenders and always verify their credentials before agreeing to any financial transaction.

8. Re-shipping scams

Reported countries: Eastern Europe, Russia
Damages reported: N/A

A devious scheme known as a re-shipping job scam involves the duplicitous offer of employment whereby an unsuspecting individual is recruited to receive and subsequently dispatch packages to a foreign address. These nefarious perpetrators frequently advertise their faux opportunities on credible employment websites or may unsolicitedly email job seekers, claiming that the job provides a flexible schedule and handsome remuneration.

Regrettably, the packages that the victim accepts and reships might be procured using stolen credit cards or contain illicit merchandise. This leads to the victim being drawn into the criminal activity as an accomplice, thereby exposing themselves to serious legal repercussions, including potential criminal charges and imprisonment.

Moreover, the victim’s personal and financial information might be at risk of compromise, leading to identity theft or significant financial losses. Hence, it is paramount to exercise extreme caution when contemplating job offers from unknown sources. Before accepting any employment opportunity, individuals should conduct thorough due diligence to ascertain the legitimacy of the job and the employer.

9. Fake check scams

A fake check scam is a prevalent fraudulent scheme that is often linked to various other scams. The perpetrator typically approaches unsuspecting individuals via email, social media, or online classified ads, offering a check for an amount that exceeds the agreed-upon payment or purchase price.

They then request that the victim cashes the check and sends them the difference, claiming it was a mistake or that a supplier needs to be paid. The victim may be pressured to act quickly to avoid losing the opportunity, and the scammers often provide a sense of urgency to complete the transaction.

While banks may make the funds available sooner based on the relationship the bank has with the account holder, it could take up to 10 days for the bank to fully process the check. As a result, the victim sends the money to the scammer, and the check eventually bounces, leaving the victim liable for the money they sent. Moreover, the victim’s personal and financial information may be compromised, leading to identity theft or financial losses.

It is essential to be wary of unsolicited offers involving checks or money orders, especially those that require sending money or personal information. Individuals should always verify the legitimacy of the check and the person or company issuing it before depositing or cashing it.

10. “Can you hear me” scam

The insidious “Can you hear me?” phone scam is a type of fraudulent scheme whereby unscrupulous scammers make unsolicited calls to unsuspecting individuals and inquire, “Can you hear me?” If the victim replies in the affirmative or provides any similar response, the scammer records their voice and utilizes it as validation for fraudulent charges on their credit card. These scammers may have acquired the victim’s credit card information using illegal methods, such as hacking or procuring it through black markets.

To gain the victim’s confidence and acquire their personal information, the perpetrator may masquerade as a representative from a legitimate organization, such as a utility company or travel agency. Following this, the scammer may intimidate the victim with legal action or harm to their credit score if they do not comply with the unauthorized charges.

Shockingly, the victim may not even be aware that they have fallen prey to this scam until they receive their credit card statement and notice the unapproved charges.

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