Internet fraud

Internet fraud

Internet fraud refers to the use of Internet services to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions, or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme.

Internet fraud can occur in chat rooms, email, message boards or on websites.


Purchase frauds

Purchase fraud occurs when a criminal approaches a merchant and proposes a business transaction, and then uses fraudulent means to pay for it, such as a stolen or fake credit card. As a result, merchants do not get paid for the sale. Merchants who accept credit cards may receive a chargeback for the transaction and lose money as a result.

An example of a fraudulent purchase transaction:

From: XXXXXX XXXXXX [] Sent: Saturday, October 1, 2005 11:35 AM Subject: International order enquiry Goodday Sales, This is XXXXXX XXXXXXX and I will like to place an order for some products in your store, But before I proceed with listing my requirements, I will like to know if you accept credit card and can ship internationally to Lagos, Nigeria. Could you get back to me with your website so as to forward you the list of my requirements as soon as possible. Regards, XXXXXX XXXXXX, XXXXXXXX Inc. 9999 XXXXX street, Mushin, Lagos 23401, Nigeria Telephone: 234-1-99999999, Fax: 234-1-9999999, Email:

Counterfeit postal money orders

According to the FBI and postal inspectors, there has been a significant surge in the use of counterfeit postal money orders since October 2004.[citation needed] More than 3,700 counterfeit postal money orders were intercepted by authorities[where?] between October and December 2004. According to the United States Postal Service, the quality of the counterfeit postal money orders is so good that ordinary consumers can easily be fooled.[citation needed] The counterfeit postal money orders are presented for payment at banks and other financial institutions.[1]

On April 26, 2005, Tom Zeller Jr. wrote an article in The New York Times[2][broken citation] regarding a surge in the quantity and quality of the forging of U.S. postal money orders, and its use to commit online fraud. Small Internet retailers, classified advertisers and individuals contacted by defrauders online are victims of this fraudulent activity.[citation needed]

In the United States of America, the penalty for making or using counterfeit postal money orders is up to ten years in jail and/or a $25,000 fine.[citation needed]

Online automotive fraud

A fraudster posts a nonexistent vehicle for sale to a website, typically a luxury or sports car, advertised for well below its market value. The details of the vehicle, including photos and description, are typically lifted from sites such as eBay Motors or Autoscout24. An interested buyer, hopeful for a bargain, emails the fraudster, who responds saying the car is still available but is located overseas. The scam artist then instructs the victim to send a deposit via wire transfer to initiate the "shipping" process. The unwitting victim wires the funds, and subsequently discovers they have been scammed.

In another type of fraud, a fraudster contacts someone who has posted a vehicle for sale online, asking for the vehicle identification number (VIN) in order to check the accident record of the vehicle. However, the crook actually uses the VIN to make fake documentation for a stolen car, in order to sell it.

Vehicles can also be used as part of a counterfeit cashier's check scam.

Counterfeit cashier's check scam

Real estate

Landlords placing advertisements on Craigslist or receive an e-mail response from a prospective renter from a foreign country, typically a student fresh out of secondary education (high school in the U.S.). The first inquiry seems legitimate. The second usually comes with request for more information and an attachment from a fake company set up by the scam artist indicating that the "student" has won a part-time scholarship from the company. (The fraudster will often set up a fake website for the company, in order to make the attachment seem legitimate.) The scam comes with the third e-mail: a request for the victim's name and address so that the "company" can send a cashier's check to cover the rent and the "student's" travel costs.

The victim is instructed to cash the check and wire the difference back to the student so that they can travel to the destination country. In the United States, banks consider cashier's checks to be "guaranteed funds" and will typically cash them instantly. However, unlike a certified check, the bank that cashes a cashier's check can still take back the money from the depositor if the check is counterfeit or "bounces". Because of the lag between the cashing and clearing of the check, the victim does not realize that they have been had until their account is debited for the amount they wired to the fraudster, plus any fees for the bounced check.


In this variation, a fraudster feigns interest in a vehicle for sale on the Internet. The "buyer" explains that he represents a client who is interested in the car, but due to an earlier sale that fell through, he has a cashier's check made out for thousands more than the asking price. The scammer requests that the victim cash the check and refund the balance via wire transfer. If the seller agrees to the transaction, the fraudstser sends the counterfeit cashier's check via express courier (typically from Nigeria). The victim takes the check to their bank, which makes the funds available immediately. Thinking the bank has cleared the check, the seller follows through on the transaction by wiring the balance to the buyer. Days later, the check bounces, and the victim is responsible for the amount they wired to the fraudster, plus any fees associated with the bounced check.

Cash the check system

Defrauders negotiate large purchases with the victim (e.g. ordering $50,000 to $200,000 worth of goods) agreeing to an advance payment via bank wire transfer. After ordering, the fraudster claims that paying via wire transfer is impractical, and instead sends a counterfeit check drawn on the account of a real, uninvolved organization as an alternate payment. After the check clears, the victim company ships the goods. When the uninvolved organization notices the fraudulent transaction against their account, they request a chargeback, resulting in the victim losing both the money and the goods.

In some cases, thieves learn the address of a merchant's bank, and send counterfeit checks directly to the bank. They then claim a direct deposit was made after the check is deposited by bank staff, hoping the victim will only notice the apparently available funds, and not the fact that it was a check deposit that the bank has not yet fully cleared.

In other cases, defrauders negotiate smaller transactions (e.g. ordering $2,000 to $10,000 worth of goods) with fraudulent checks written for more than the purchase amount, and instruct the merchant to refund "excess" amounts via Western Union money transfer to an account in another country.


Re-shipping scams trick individuals or small businesses into re-shipping goods to countries with weak legal systems. The goods are generally paid for with stolen or fake credit cards.

African version

In African re-shipping scams, fraudsters recruit victims from Western countries via chat rooms and dating websites, developing long-distance relationships with their victims to obtain personal details. After the victim accepts a marriage proposal from the scammer, items are bought online using credit card information stolen from other people and shipped to victims without their knowledge. The fraudster then claims the goods were sent to the wrong address, and asks the victim to apply pre-printed labels to the packages and re-ship them to fraudsters' real address. Once the victim re-ships the goods, the fraudster ceases all communication with the victim. Victims often discover that the shipping account for the pre-printed labels is in their name when the freight company bills them for the shipping costs.

Eastern European version

The Eastern European re-shipping scam is a variant of the Nigerian version in which fraudsters recruit victims through classified advertising by presenting themselves as a growing European company trying to establish a presence in the United States.

The fraudsters explain that they will buy goods in the United States that need to be re-shipped to a final destination in Europe. The thieves then ship fraudulently-purchased goods to the victims, and the victims re-ship goods to the fraudsters. Sometimes, if the fraudsters send pre-printed shipping labels to the victims, they also include a counterfeit check as payment for the re-shipper's services. By the time the check bounces, the goods have already been re-shipped and the fraudsters stop all communication with their victims.

XXXXX Inc. invite residents of the various countries to cooperation. We found your resume on some Job Website because we are searching for reliable professionals or your information has been passed to us by your friends/relatives. Our clients need to accept goods from the various countries. Therefore we creating a network of regional agents which functions are reception of goods and further transferring goods to our shipping managers. We pay you 40€ per received package. We guarantee worthy payment of your work. This job is for you If you want to earn from €150 to €800 per week and work Only 2-3 hours then! This job requires punctuality, good organizational skills and proficiency with Microsoft windows and office programs to maintain inventory and fill forms if necessary. This job is ideal for: housewives, students, older persons, people with restrictions. No money needed to start. This is a business requiring only limited amount of your time. Requirements: 1. A computer with access to the Internet, e-mail 2. We don't work with persons under 18 3. 1-3 hours free during the week 4. Check your e-mail several times a day (each hour is perfect) 5. Reply to e-mails immediately 6. PayPal account to receive payments (optional, WU is also accepted) 7. Be responsible, hard working and communicable We offer competitive compensation, including commission and expense reimbursement. Please send your resume to
Thank You

A recruiting email in 2007

Chinese version

The Chinese re-shipping scam is a variant of the Eastern European version, in which fraudsters recruit victims through spam. The fraudsters present themselves as a growing Chinese company trying to establish a presence in the United States or Europe.

Dear Sir/Madam, I am Mr. XXX XXX, managing XXXXXXXXXXX Corp. We are a company who deal on mechanical equipment, hardware and minerals, electrical products, Medical & Chemicals, light industrial products and office equipment, and export into the Canada/America and Europe. We are searching for representatives who can help us establish a medium of getting to our costumers in the Canada/America and Europe as well as making payments through you to us. Please if you are interested in transacting business with us we will be glad. Please contact us for more information. Subject to your satisfaction you will be given the opportunity to negotiate your mode of which we will pay for your services as our representative in Canada/America and Europe. Please if you are interested forward to us your phone number/fax and your full contact addresses. Thanks in advance. Mr. XXX XXX. Managing Director

A recruiting email

Australian version

In the Australian re-shipping scam, a company in the United States is contacted by a potential customer, stating they would like to place an order with the company. Once the company responds, verifying that the desired products are in stock, the fraudster will then ask for a shipping quotation to Australia, and explain that they will be paying via credit card.

Once the victim company sends the quotation to the fraudster, they reply that they will have their U.S. agent or freight representative come to the company's location and pick up the merchandise, and the agent will ship the goods to the "customer". The fraudster then asks the company to add a plausible additional charge of US$700 to US$1,500 onto the total cost, and pay that amount to the "agent" when they arrive to collect the goods. The scammer also offers additional compensation to the company, for the extra trouble of paying their agent. The offered reasons for this arrangement might be "the freight company only accepts cash", or "the agent is unable to process credit cards". If the victim company responds that this is not possible, the fraudster will cut off communication.

There are typically many grammar and spelling mistakes in the communications:

Dear XXXX, Thanks for the total quote of my order. The total cost of my order is quite correct and okay by me and I'm ready to pay the bills. I shall inform my freight forwarder who will be coming to pick up the order to hold on and come immediately you inform me that the items are ready for pick up then i can give you a call on that day to get the items packed for pick up and they will call you on their arrival at your address. Also I want you to help me Charge another $1200.00 from my card to the shipping agent who will be coming to pick up my ordered items from you. The $1200.00 that will be sent to the freight forwarder is for the shipping of my order and other items i ordered from different part of the country which is to be picked up by him and should be deducted from my credit card. Also, I'm compensating you with the sum of $150.00 for the transfer fee and for your efforts. Please note that i should have given the shipping agency my credit card for him to deduct the shipping funds but he told me that he doesn't have the facilities to charge or debit credit card, so that's why i bring my vote of confidence in you and i want you to assist me in this measure, so i want you to transfer the funds to him after you have make the charges and the money charged from my credit card is in your account,then you can now make the transfer to the agent via western union. i will have love to do this my self but there are no western union here around me cos i am out of town to monitor my estate construction at a remote village,So the charges you'll make on my credit card will be Order Fee: 3,114.61 Agent fee with shipping fare: $1,200.00 Transfer Fee plus Your Compensation: $150.00 Total: $4464.61 Note that my credit card will be charged for the amounts above. Please do get back to me if you are in the office right now so that i can forward my credit card details to you, then you can charge the funds I await your quick response. Kind Regards.

From: XXXXXX Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2007 4:40 PM To: XXXXXX Subject: RE: mail oder - don't worry i will give you $300 for the stress and you can charges the money and send the money with the US what about that so let me hear from you today XXXXX wrote: xxx, We will not be able to transfer the extra $700 to your agent. We can charge you for the motors, however, we have them at two different warehouse locations. What you have your agent do is up to you, we can either will call the motors at each warehouse for him to go and pick them up, or have them shipped to his U.S. address. However, if we do have them shipped to his location, shipping charges will apply, and then I suppose you can deduct that from the $700 you would send to him to come and pick them up. Either way you handle it, the motors are in stock and available for purchase.

From: XXXXX Sent: Tuesday, December 4, 2007 4:28 PM To: XXXXXX Subject: RE: mail oder - What i just want you to know is that i will forward my credit for the bill tomorrow to charges and you will charges extra 700 eur to my agent that will come over there to pick up the goods so let me know if you can charges extra eur 700 then send it to him via western union money transfer Hello xxxxx, I am interested in purchasing some of your products, I will like to know if you can ship directly to Australia, I also want you to know my mode of payment for this order is via Credit Card. Get back to me if you can ship to that destination and also if you accept the payment type I indicated. 37 O'Connell Street North Melbourne Victoria 3051 AUSTRALIA Phone:(613) 9329 65433 Fax: (613) 9329 65434 Email( Kindly return this email with your Website. I await your quick response. Kind Regards. managements

Online auction and retail schemes

In an online auction scheme, a fraudster starts an auction on a site such as eBay or TradeMe with very low prices and no reserve price, especially for typically high priced items like watches, computers, or high value collectibles. The fraudster accepts payment from the auction winner, but either never delivers the promised goods, or delivers an item that is less valuable than the one offered—for example, a counterfeit, refurbished, or used item.

Online retail schemes involve complete online stores that appear to be legitimate. As with the auction scheme, when a victim places an order through such a site, their funds are taken but no goods are sent, or inferior goods are sent.

In some cases, the stores or auctioneers were once legitimate, but eventually stopped shipping goods after accepting customer payments.

Sometimes fraudsters will use phishing techniques to hijack a legitimate member accounts on an online auction site—typically an account with a strongly positive online reputation—and use it to set up a phony online store. In this case, the fraudster collects the money, while ruining the reputation of the conned eBay member. When victims complain that they have not received their goods, the legitimate account holder receives the blame.

A more subtle variation of online auction fraud occurs when a seller ships an item to an incorrect address that is within the buyer's ZIP code using the United States Postal Service's Delivery Confirmation service. This service does not require the recipient to sign for the package, but offers confirmation that the Postal Service delivered the package within the specified ZIP code. The item shipped is usually an empty envelope with no return address and no recipient name, just a street address different from that of the victim. The delivery of the envelope with the Delivery Confirmation barcode attached suffices for the Postal Service to record the delivery as confirmed. The fraudster can then claim the package has been delivered, and offer the Delivery Confirmation receipt as proof to support the claim.

PayPal Fraud

In a collection in person PayPal scheme, the scammer targets eBay auctions that allow the purchaser to personally collect the item from the seller, rather than having the item shipped, and where the seller accepts PayPal as a means of payment.

The fraudster uses a fake address with a post office box when making their bids, as PayPal will allow such an unconfirmed address. Such transactions are not covered by PayPal's seller protection policy. The fraudster buys the item, pays for it via PayPal, and then collects the item from the victim. The fraudster then challenges the sale, claiming a refund from PayPal and stating that they did not receive the item. PayPal's policy is that it will reverse a purchase transaction unless the seller can provide a shipment tracking number as proof of delivery; PayPal will not accept video evidence, a signed document, or any form of proof other than a tracking number as valid proof of delivery.[citation needed]

This form of fraud can be avoided by only accepting cash from buyers who wish to collect goods in person.

Call tag scam

In a call tag scam, criminals use stolen credit card information to purchase goods online for shipment to the legitimate cardholder. When the item is shipped, the criminal receives tracking information via email. They then call the cardholder and falsely identify themselves as the merchant that shipped the goods, saying that the product was mistakenly shipped and asking permission to pick it up when it is delivered. The criminal then arranges the pickup, using a "call tag" with a different shipping company. The victim usually doesn't notice that a second shipping company is picking up the product, and the shipping company has no knowledge it is participating in a fraud scheme.

The cardholder may later notice the charge on his statement and protest the charge, generating a chargeback to the unsuspecting merchant.

The Merchant Risk Council reported that the "call tag" scam re-emerged during the 2005 holidays and several large merchants suffered losses.[citation needed]

Business opportunity or "Work-at-Home" schemes

Con artists often use the Internet to advertise supposed business opportunities that allow individuals to earn thousands of dollars a month in "work-at-home" ventures. These schemes typically require the individuals to pay nominal to substantial sums for the "business plans" or other materials. The fraudsters then fail to deliver the promised materials, provide inadequate information to make a viable business, or provide information readily available for free or a substantially lower cost elsewhere.

In one such scheme, after paying a registration fee the victim will be sent advice on how to place ads, similar to the one that recruited him, in order to recruit others. This is a form of Ponzi scheme.

Another work-at-home scam involves kits for small doodads such as CD cases to be assembled by the victim in their home. The victim pays a fee for the kit, but after assembling and returning the item, the scammer rejects it as substandard, refusing to reimburse the victim for the cost of the kit. Variations on this scam include work on directories, stuffing envelopes, doing medical billing or data entry, or reading books for money.

Work-at-home donation processing

An elaborate variation on this theme lures the victim with an e-mailed job offer from a fake company. The scammer may have constructed an elaborate website for the company, to make the offer appear legitimate. The job offer includes an unrealistically generous salary for part-time, unskilled labor. The main responsibility of this well-paying job is to be a middleman for "donations", supposedly intended for victims of a natural disaster.

The scammer then asks the victim for their bank account numbers, allegedly to deposit donations into the victim's account so that the victim can redistribute them. As part of the "hiring process", the fraudster also asks for the victim's Social Security number and date of birth.

With this information, the criminal monitors the victim's account balances. When a larger-than-normal amount appears in the bank account, such as a paycheck, the scammer drains the account.

Generally, the faked company website will locate the company in a different country from the scammer; this may be noticeable by inspecting the domain registration for the website, which may indicate the scammer's true country of origin. In addition, victims in Western countries are targeted using a Western-sounding pseudonym like "Timothy Scott", while the domain name is actually registered to a "Li Xiang".

A recent work at home scam comes from exploiting unemployed people. A job is offered to work at home, with the fraudster claiming to represent a real corporation. He sets up an instant messenger interview usually over yahoo. There he tells the person that they are hired, and will receive high pay and full benefits. They must purchase bookkeeping software to work there, for around six hundred dollars. This money must be paid via western union. Of course the fraudster keeps the money, and there is no real job. Victims have called the company afterwards, but the fraudster never actually worked for or represented the company.

Money transfer fraud

Money transfer fraud consists of an offer of employment transferring money to a foreign company, supposedly because it costs too much to do it through other methods. The prospective victim receives an email like these six examples:

Dear Sir/Madam, XXXXXX is a small scale company in XXXXXX. We supply XXXXXXX to clients in some countries. We have reached big sales volume in Europe as a starter, and now we are trying to penetrate the US/Canada market. Quite soon we will open representative offices or authorized sales centers in the US and therefore we are currently looking for people who will assist us in establishing a new distribution network there.The fact that despite the US market is new for us we already have regular clients also speaks for itself. The international money transfer tax for legal entities (companies) in XXXXXX country is 25%, whereas for the individual it is only 7%. There is no sense for us to work this way, while tax for international money transfer made by a private individual is 7%. That's why we need you! We need agents to receive payment for products in money orders, cheque or bank wire transfers) and to resend the money to us via Money Gram or Western Union Money Transfer. This way we will save money because of tax decreasing. JOB DESCRIPTION? 1. Receive payment from Clients 2. Cash Payments at your Bank 3. Deduct 10% which will be your percentage/pay on Payment processed. 4. Forward balance after deduction of percentage/pay to any of the offices you will be contacted to send payment to (Payments are to be forwarded either by Money Gram or Western Union Money Transfer). HOW MUCH WILL YOU EARN? 10% from each operation! For instance: If you receive 7000 USD via cheques or money orders on our behalf. You will cash the payment and keep $700 (10% from $7000) for yourself! At the beginning your commission will equal 10%, though later it will increase up to 15%! ADVANTAGES: You do not have to go out as you will work as an independent contractor right from your home office. Your job is absolutely legal. You can earn up to $3000–4000 monthly depending on time you will spend for this job.You do not need any capital to start. You can do the Work easily without leaving or affecting your present Job. The employees who make efforts and work hard have a strong possibility to become managers. Anyway our employee never leaves us. MAIN REQUIREMENTS: 18 years or older legally capable responsible ready to work 2–4 hours per week.with PC knowledge e-mail and internet experience (minimal) And please be informed that Everything is absolutely legal. If you are interested in our offer, please reply to the following email address: XXXXXX@XXXXX with your; (1)Your full names: (2) Contact address: (3) Tele/cell numbers: (4) Occupation: (5) Age: (6) Sex: Thanks for your anticipated action. And we hope to hear back from you soon.

Dear Sir/Madam, I am XXXXX XXXXX, Human Resources Manager of XXXXX located in XXXX. We deal in XXXXXXX articles such XXXXXX worldwide. Our website is XXXXXX. We are currently in search of a book-keeper/company representative who would assist us in receiving payment from our customers in America/Canada/Asia and other part of Europe. This offer is absolutely legal and you do not need any capital to start. Your Job description is as follows: (1) You would receive payment on our behalf from our various clients which would come in the form of cashiers checks, travelers checks and official checks. (2) You then get the payments deposited/cashed at your bank. (3) You then deduct a commission of 10% of each payment you would be receiving, as been our representative and then send the balance money via western union to any of our agent or offices that you would be instructed. HOW MUCH WILL YOU EARN? 10% from each operation! For instance: you receive 7000 USD via checks on our behalf. You will cash the money and keep $700 (10% from $7000) for yourself! At the beginning your commission will equal 10%, though later it will increase up to 12%! Our payments will be issued out in your name, as we would inform our clients to do so. If you are interested in this offer, kindly provide us with the below details. 1) Full name 2) Full house address Street/Ave, City, State and Zip Cope 3) Phone numbers 4) Age & Sex 5) Present Occupation PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL REPLIES SHOULD BE SENT THIS E-MAIL ADDRESS: XXXXXXXXXXXX Thanks for your anticipated action. And we hope to hear back from you. XXXXXX XXXXXX (Human Resources Manager)

Transactions specialist - part-time work opporunity. An international investment company is looking for communicative and skillful individuals to join the Receivables Team of our Finance & Infrastructure Group in the United States on part-time basis. This position involves monitoring and processing of our company's funds. Your duties will not involve any direct client interaction, and you will be reporting to the Receivables department manager in Russia. We are looking for numerate individuals who are also able to multi-task efficiently in a team. Relevant previous experience and/or education is a plus, but not a prerequisite. The position is entirely home-based, and no relocation is required from the successful candidate. This role does not involve any fixed working hours and is suitable for senior citizens or self-employed individuals. Estimated average salary starts from $3,000.00 per month. In order to qualify for the position, you must be a permanent US resident aged 21 and above and have a verifiable personal/business banking relationship with a US bank. Since most communication with the head office will be via email/fax/phone, you should have reliable access to these facilities and be reachable during regular business hours. To apply for this position or to request additional information on our company, please contact us at xxxxxxxxx@XXXXXXXX. Please make sure to provide your contact phone number. Please note that only applicants under serious consideration will be contacted.

REPUBLIC OF COTE-D'IVOIRE Dearest One, My name is XXXXXXXX and my Sister's name YYYYYYYYY we are the children of Late General ZZZZZZZZZZZZ the former Director of military intelligence and special acting General Manager of Sieria Leone Diamond mining coperation (SLDMC). I am contacting you to seek your good assistance to transfer and invest Five million seven hundred and twenty thousand united state dollars ($5,720,000.00) belonging to my late father which is deposited in a bank here in Abidjan. This money is revenues from solid minerals and dimonds sale which were under my fathers possession before the civil war broke out. Following the break out of the war, almost all government offices,coperations and parastatals were attacked and vandalized. The SLDMC was looted and burnt down to ashes, and diamonds worth millions of dollars was stolen by the rebel military forces who attacked my fathers office. Many top government officials and senior army officers were assassinated and my father was a key target because of his very sensitive military position and appointment in the SLDMC.Regreatably, my father was captured and murdered along with half brother in cool blood during a mid-night rebel shoot-out when our official residence in freetown was armbushed by Fordey Sanko the notorious rebel leader. My mother sustainded very sever bullet injuries which resulted to her untimely and painful death in a private hospital here in Ivory Coast. Now we are alone in a totally strange country without parents, relatives or any body to care for us at our tender ages. Before our mother died, she told us that our father deposited some money which he made from diamond sales and deposited it in a bank here in Ivory Coast and that we should pray and find a trust worthy foreign business partner who will help us to transfer and invest this money in profitable business venture overseas. She told us to do this quickly so that we can leave Ivory Coast with our cousin brother-Arthur who is here in the camp with us and, then settle down abroad. She gave us the bank document to prove the deposit and then told us that my father used my name as the only son to deposit the money in the bank. She told us that this is the reason why we came to Ivory Coast. My mother died after wards. May her spirit rest in perfect peace. I have gone to the bank to make inquires about this money and I spoke with the Manager of International remittance who assured me that everything is intact and promised to help me transfer this money to my foreign partners bank account as soon as I provide my partners foreign bank account for them. However, the manager is very concerned because of my age. I am 19 years old and as such advised that I should look for a matured person that will represent me at the bank. If you are willing to assist us, please let us know immediately so that you will arrange the transfer of the money to your account with the bank. Please note that we will offer you 20% of the total money as compensation for your noble assistance in accodiance with my mothers advise. We are interested in any profitable commercial venture which you consider very good in your country and you would also get a school for me and my little sister and cousin so that we can finish our college education in your country. Please there is urgent need for the money to be transferred to your account and I am hoping to hear your urgent response so that I can not look for another foreign partner. Thank you and may God bless you and your dear family. Yours sincerely XXXXX and YYYYYY ZZZZZZZ

Dearest. Reply in My E-mail:(XXXXXXXXXXX@YYYYYYY.ZZZ) I am Miss XXXXXX YYYYYYY. My reason of contacting you is that i need your assistance to receive the sum of (US$10.500.000,00 ) into your account for a profitable investment in your country. I have made all the necessary arraangement for successful transfer of this fund into your account without any problem I will give you full detail on how this process will be done. Itis 100% risk free. thanks.

Dear Sir/Madam I'm the C.E.O of XXXXX Textiles. We'd like to offer you additional earnings $2000 – $8000 per month. It's easy and will not take a lot of time. No costs, No Investments, Work Part Time or Full Time. Up to $2000 Part Time and $8000 Full Time. Work from Home with a Business Opportunity that no job could ever offer. Use your own computer to make money and make a CAREER as your own boss. I would like to know if you are interested. Work will consist of receiving of the payments from our clients in USA and Canada. All you would be doing is receiving these payments that would come to you via the mail system in your country, have them cashed and remit the rest to me. I would be willing to pay you 10% of whatever payment you process. These payments would come in different forms. We are always facing serious difficulties when it comes to selling our products to Americans; they are always offering to pay with Different Modes, which are difficult for me to cash here in the UK. Because of a hold of almost three weeks that would be placed on them before they clears the banks here in the UK. Unfortunately we can't open the bank accounts in all the countries we work with and because of that we seek for a representative/bookkeeper in USA and Canada. Respond only if you will like to work from home part-time/full time and get paid weekly without leaving or it affecting your present job. (PAY IS GOOD)If interested please reply with the information below to
FULL NAME...............
ADDRESS (P.O Box Not Accepted)...........
PHONE ....... CELL PHONE...........
PRESENT OCCUPATION ................
+44-999-999-9999 Best Regards,

The fraudsters then send fake checks or postal money orders, in the hopes that the victims will cash the fake money instruments and send money to the scammers before the fraud is discovered.

Because the fraudsters are often able to get the victim's personal information, including their Social Security number or bank account number, these scams often become phishing scams as well, leading to identity fraud.

Dating fraud

Online dating frauds are almost as old as Internet dating itself.[citation needed] Often referred to as a "sweetheart swindle", the con artist develops a relationship with their victim and convinces them to send money to the fraudster. The requests for money can be a one-time event, or repeated over an extended period of time. Most online dating services experience difficulties dealing with fraudsters and issue warnings to their users.[original research?]

Potential dating fraud indicators include:

  • Victims receive "I love you" messages immediately
  • Requests for money, or for the victim to cash a check or money order
  • Claims to be a U.S. citizen who is abroad, well off, or a person of importance
  • Claims to be a contractor needing help with a business deal
  • Claims to need money for a parent's "operation in the hospital"
  • The person will have an attractive photo posted on the website, but won't be willing to send any other photos.

International modem dialing

Customers of dial-up Internet service providers, such as AOL, use a modem to dial a local telephone number in order to connect to the Internet. Some web sites, typically containing adult content, trick consumers into paying to view content on their web site by convincing them to unwittingly make international telephone calls with their modem.

Often these sites claim to be free, and advertise that no credit card is needed to view the site. They prompt the user to download a "viewer" or "dialer" program to allow them to view the content. Once the program is downloaded, it disconnects the computer from the victim's usual Internet service provider and dials an international long-distance or premium-rate number, charging unexpectedly high rates to the victim's long-distance phone bill.

While one can usually request that their phone company block their line from making international calls in order to prevent this scam, there are loopholes that the scammers can exploit. In the United States and Canada, phone numbers are assigned Country Code "1" and a three-digit "area code" under the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). However, Bermuda and 16 Caribbean countries are also part of the NANP, so a phone number that has the same appearance as a domestic number may actually be an expensive overseas call. Scammers can also use a "Carrier Access Code" to override the user's default choice of long-distance company; this works around the international-calling block that the customer placed with that company.

Internet marketing and retail fraud

Internet marketing and retail fraud is a fast-growing[citation needed] area perpetrated by dishonest internet marketing and retail sites involving a variety of products and services. The victim is tricked, by a legitimate-looking site and effective marketing, into giving their credit card information and [card security code] (or sending funds by other means) in exchange for what they believe to be goods or services. The goods never arrive, turn out to be fake, or are products worth less than those advertised.

Where a credit card is involved, the perpetrators may also use the customer's credit card information to obtain cash or to make purchases of their own. A common example of this type of fraud would be pornographic websites that advertise free access, but require a credit card "for age verification purposes only". The scammers use the credit card information to make fraudulent charges.

Internet marketing and retail fraud involving health products may sell fake or worthless goods. These products might advertise a quick way to lose weight, a cure for a serious disease, or make other sensational claims.

Typical features of an Internet retail health fraud include:

  • grand promises, claiming they can "do it all"
  • claims to be a "scientific breakthrough", featuring fake doctors or scientists making claims for the product; may include technical jargon that experts in the field will recognize as being used inappropriately
  • features a long list of "personal testimonials", without sufficient information to verify them

Consumers find that once these types of scammers obtain their credit card information, fraudulent charge attempts will be made even after the card is cancelled. Credit and consumer protection laws in many countries hold the credit card company liable to refund their customers' money for goods or services purchased with the card that are not delivered. The credit card company then has to absorb the loss, but these costs are ultimately passed on to consumers in the form of higher interest rates and fees.

Internet ticket fraud

A variation of Internet marketing fraud offers tickets to sought-after events such as concerts, shows, and sports events. The tickets are fake, or are never delivered. The proliferation of online ticket agencies, and the existence of experienced and dishonest ticket resellers, has fueled this kind of fraud. Many such scams are run by British ticket touts, though they may base their operations in other countries.[3]

A prime example was the global Beijing Olympic Games ticket fraud run by US-registered Xclusive Leisure and Hospitality, sold through a professionally-designed website,, with the name "Beijing 2008 Ticketing".[4] On 4 August it was reported that more than AU$50 million worth of fake tickets had been sold through the website.[5] On 6 August it was reported that the person behind the scam, which was wholly based outside China, was a British ticket tout, Terance Shepherd.[6]

SEO fraud

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, fraud involves a supposed Internet marketing specialist presenting a prospective client with detailed graphs and charts indicating that the client's web site receives some number of "hits" per month. The specialist claims his services will increase web traffic, thus increasing the site's sales revenue. After payment, the scammer does not provide the proposed services.

Click fraud

Click fraud occurs when websites that are affiliates of advertising networks that pay per view or per click use spyware to force views or clicks to ads on their own websites. The affiliate is then paid a commission on the cost-per-click that was artificially generated. Affiliate programs such as Google's Adsense pay high commissions that drive the generation of bogus clicks. With paid clicks costing as much as US$100[verification needed] and an online advertising industry worth more than US$10 billion, this form of Internet fraud is on the increase.[citation needed]


Phishing is the act of masquerading as a trustworthy person or business to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details, that a victim might think reasonable to share with such an entity. Phishing usually involves seemingly official electronic notifications or messages, such as e-mails or instant messages. It is a form of social engineering.

The term phishing was coined in the mid-1990s by black-hat computer hackers attempting to gain access to AOL accounts. An attacker would pose as an AOL staff member and send an instant message to a potential victim. The message would ask the victim to reveal his or her password to "verify your account" or to "confirm billing information". Once the victim gave their password, the attacker could access the victim's account and use it for criminal purposes, such as spamming.

Fraudsters have widely used e-mail spam messages posing as large banks like Citibank, Bank of America, or PayPal in phishing attacks. These fraudsters copy the code and graphics from legitimate websites and use them on their own sites to create legitimate-looking scam web pages. These pages are so well done that most people cannot tell that they have navigated to a scam site.

Phishers will also add what appears to be a link to a legitimate site in an e-mail, but use specially-crafted HTML source code that actually links to the scammer's fake site. Such links can be often revealed by using the "view source" feature in the e-mail application to look at the destination of the link, or by putting the mouse pointer over the link and looking at the URL then displayed in the status bar of the web browser.

The small percentage of people that fall for such phishing scams, multiplied by the sheer numbers of spam messages sent, presents the fraudster with a substantial incentive to keep doing it.

See also: Anti-phishing

Examples of phishing attacks

Subject: Windows Account Alert™‏
From: Windows Microsoft™ Center (war.veteran @
Sent: Fri 4/30/10 7:58 AM
To: accountprotectteam2010 @ Microsoft Live Account Alert!!! Dear Account Owner This Email is from Microsoft Customer Care and we are sending it to every Hotmail Email User Accounts Owner for safety. we are having congestion's due to the anonymous registration of Hotmail accounts so we are shutting down some Hotmail accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. Please verify your account and let us know if you still want to use this account. If you are still interested please confirm your account by filling the space below.Your User name, password, date of birth and your country information would be needed to verify your account.

  • Username: ...............................
  • Password: ................................
  • Date of Birth: ............................
  • Country Or Territory: ................
Confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Information below after clicking the reply button, or your account will be suspended within 48 hours for security reasons. Sincerely,
The Windows Live Hotmail Team

An example of an email phishing for user's Hotmail account passwords

Hello ,

I know that this message might meet you in utmost surprise.I am really sorry to bother you with this email but i just want you to know what i am facing right now.I am sorry that i didn't inform you about my traveling to London UK for a Seminar,i am presently in London now but unfortunately for me i lost my wallet which contains my money and other valuable things in a taxi.I can easily access the internet for now but I do not have access to phone at all.I want you to assist me urgently with a loan of $2,500 to sort-out my hotel bills and to get myself back home. I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the matter effectively,i promise i will pay you back as soon as i return.Kindly let me know if you can be of help so that i can send you the details you will use to send the money to me here in London. Further details of the transfer will be forwarded to you as soon as i receive your return email.

Email "spoofing"

Sender data shown in emails can be "spoofed", displaying a fake return address on outgoing email to hide the true origin of the message, therefore protecting it from being traced. The Sender Policy Framework protocol helps to combat email spoofing.


Pharming occurs when a hacker redirects website traffic from a legitimate website to the hacker's fraudulent website by exploiting vulnerabilities in the Domain Name System (DNS). By corrupting a computer's knowledge of how a site's domain name maps to its IP address, the attacker causes the victim's computer to communicate with the wrong server—a technique known as domain hijacking.

By constructing a fake web site that looks like a legitimate site that might ask for the user's personal information, such as a copy of a bank's website, the fraudster can "phish", or steal by means of false pretenses, a victim's passwords, PIN or bank account number. The combination of domain hijacking with a phishing website constitutes farming.

Although many such sites use the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol to identify themselves cryptographically and prevent such fraud, SSL offers no protection if users ignore their web browsers' warnings about invalid SSL server certificates. Such warnings occur when a user connects to a server whose SSL certificate does not match the address of the server.

In 2004, a German teenager hijacked the domain.[citation needed] In January 2005, the domain name of Panix, a large New York ISP, was hijacked to a site in Australia.[citation needed]

Anti-pharming technologies are available.

Stock market manipulation schemes

Online stock market manipulation schemes, or investment schemes involve attempts to manipulate securities prices on the market for the personal profit of the scammer. According to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, the two main methods used by these criminals are:

Pump-and-dump schemes

In a pump-and-dump scheme, false or fraudulent information designed to cause a dramatic price increase in thinly traded stocks or stocks of shell companies is disseminated in chat rooms, forums, internet boards, or via email (typically as spam). This is called the "pump". As soon as the price reaches the desired level criminals immediately sell off their holdings of those stocks (the "dump"), previously purchased at the "un-pumped" price, realizing substantial profits before the stock price falls back to its usual low level.

Any buyers of the stock who are unaware of the scheme become victims once the price falls. When they realize the fraud, it is too late to sell; they have lost a high percentage of their money. Even if the stock value does increase, the stocks may be difficult to sell if there are no interested buyers, leaving the victim holding the unsalable shares for far longer than they desire.

Short-selling or "scalping" schemes

A short-selling scheme is similar to the "pump-and-dump" scheme. The swindler disseminates false or fraudulent information through the same methods, but this time with the purpose of causing dramatic price decreases in a specific company's stock. Once the stock price falls to the desired level, the fraudster buys the stock (or options on the stock), and then reverses the false information—or just waits for the effects of the fraudulent information to wear off with time, or be disproved by the company or the media. Once the stock goes back to its normal level, the criminal sells the stock or option at a profit.[citation needed]

Avoiding Internet investment scams

The Securities and Exchange Commission provides guidelines for avoiding Internet investment scams, summarized below:

  • The Internet allows individuals or companies to communicate with a large audience without spending a lot of time, effort, or money. Anyone can reach tens of thousands of people by building an Internet web site, posting a message on an online bulletin board, entering a discussion in a live "chat" room, or sending mass e-mails.
  • If you want to invest wisely and steer clear of frauds, you must get the facts.
  • The types of investment fraud seen online mirror the frauds perpetrated over the phone or through the mail. Consider all offers with skepticism.
  • Do not use your credit card number and card security code number (sometimes referred to as a CVV number) to buy products from lesser-known online merchants.
  • For online auctions, you need to know how the auction works and how the company will act if a problem occurs. Keep in mind that the method of payment is critical for when you have to send a payment.[7]
  • Feedback from previous customers is another thing to consider.[7]
  • Watch out for unexpected costs such as shipping and handling.[7]

See also


External links

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