Technology makes our lives easier, especially when it comes to sending money within the United States as well as internationally. However, like with most things, as technology continues to advance and increase in popularity, criminals have come out of the woodwork. More specifically, when it comes to sending money, criminals have figured out ways to get individuals to conduct wire transfers, leading to them straight into that individual’s bank account.
Don’t worry, though, because there are things you can do to prevent becoming the latest victim of these types of scams. The first step is to educate yourself; you can do so by reading about the popular methods offenders use when attempting to steal via money transfers.
Here are five.
Popular Money Transfer Scams: Know What to Look Out For
1. The Relative Scam
Chances are, most people have family overseas. And while this can make travelling less expensive, it also makes it easier for criminals to run the relative scam.
Usually, individuals will receive an email detailing how their relative has run out of money in a foreign country; scammers then say that individual needs to send them money as soon as possible. But don’t trust these emails. If you receive an email claiming someone is a family member, and they need cash quickly, the chances of this being a money transfer scam is high. Always take precautions; ask around to make sure the email you received isn’t a scam, even if it takes some time.
2. The Check Overpayment Scam
Websites like Craigslist, where you can buy and sell items without the use of a third party, definitely has its benefits. But it’s not all perfect: thieves often use sites like Craigslist as their hunting ground, prowling for their next victim to run the check overpayment scam.
If you’re selling a priceless item on sites like Craigslist, say, something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and someone contacts you with interest but claims they don’t live in the area or they’re on holiday and they want the item sent to them, this is likely a money transfer scam. When this scam is run, called the check overpayment scam, the phony buyer sends a check for more than the asking price. The reason criminals do this is so the seller will return the amount they don’t use to the “buyer” via wire transfer. Of course, this is all a setup and when you try to cash the check, it will bounce, and the bank will make you pay for the full amount.
3. The Buy Cheap Scam
We’re all susceptible to great deals. If we see something at an economical price, even when it’s not sold on a reputable website, it’s hard to say no. But we have to, because a lot of the time when this happens, it’s a scam. For instance, if you contact someone selling something like medication or other products and they tell you that they will send you the desired products after you send them a wire transfer, don’t believe them. Criminals often use a wire transfer to run scams because you cannot get a refund when you send money using a wire transfer, and this situation is no different.
In the future, keep in mind that if you can’t see what you want to purchase and the site has not been deemed reputable, then this may be a scam; you may want to rethink your options.
4. The Emergency Scam
Social media websites like Facebook and Instagram make it incredibly easy to connect with people around the globe; they allow you to form friendships and even romantic relationships with others. However, issues can arise with this.
Criminals know that platforms like Facebook (and even online dating sites) are being used for this, and they will often run the emergency scam because of it. If you’re talking to someone online whom you’ve never met before, and they tell you an emergency has occurred and they need you to send money as soon as possible, this is likely a scam. If you ever fall victim to this and you do send money, chances are another person will become ill and they will want you to send even more money. That is a major red flag, but by recognizing the emergency scam, hopefully it won’t ever get to that point.
5. The Apartment Rental Scam
Looking for apartments can be tough. Sometimes it feels like every apartment you like is out of your price range. And criminals know this and eat it up. Often, scammers will steal ads from other websites, repost them so that their email shows, and show you affordable, beautiful apartments. If you express interest in these apartments, scammers will ask you to wire transfer a deposit or application fee so that you can lock the apartment down.
As we now know, however, you should never send money to someone you don’t know, no matter how perfect the apartment is.