Top 10 Consumer Scams--You've Won $1 Million!
The Nigerian scam artists and the phony bank phishing scammers need to work harder if they want to improve their rank in the latest scam standings issued by Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell.
McDonnell, who is doing the best job I've seen in years of lining up a gubernatorial run from a lesser statewide office, is developing an Eliot Spitzerish knack for media-friendly interpretations of his office's role. Now he's out with his Top 10 list of the scams most frequently reported to state authorities, and the big surprise is that federal grants scams are at the top. I've not been lucky enough to receive these invitations, which apparently start off with a phone call announcing that you've won a federal grant that you didn't even apply for. Maybe these scammers focus exclusively on old folks, or maybe they are inexplicably honoring the feds' Do Not Call list, but I've managed to escape this one even as my email inbox continues to fill with Nigerian scams and their various cousins and offspring.
Here's McDonnell's list:
1. Federal Grant Scams
3. Foreign Lottery
4. Identity Theft
6. Advance Fee/Nigerian Letters
7. Medicare Scams
9. Online Shopping
10. Home Improvement Fraud
Given all the hype around identity theft, it's a bit of a shocker that it isn't at the top of the hit parade. I don't see anything particularly new in this list, either, suggesting that the first wave of online scams is so wonderfully profitable that the world's best con artists don't see much call for innovation in their field.
Or perhaps it's just that Virginia isn't on the cutting edge of scammery. A similar list from British authorities is much heavier on lottery-related scams, and a U.S. government list has some more creative-sounding scams, such as the golden oldie check overpayment scam and one of my personal faves, the one in which "you've been 'pre-qualified' to get a low-interest loan or credit card."
But the best list I've found of current top scams includes the negative-option scam (in which supposedly legit businesses such as American Express offer you "free" magazines or products, but when you fall for it, you find that you've actually signed up to receive and be billed for that magazine in perpetuity, unless you take positive steps to unsubscribe.) And then there's the phony job scam, which is a variation on the good old advance fee scam that takes special advantage of people cruising careerbuilder.com and other employment sites.
Are you seeing anything new and different on the scam front?
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