Scam alerts: government websites you should know about

online fraud

Online fraud

Most people work for a living at an honest job, or at least want to. As for the rest, the number of ways they invent to steal from the rest of us is truly breathtaking.

In this installment of my running series of government websites you should know about, I have chosen not to examine a specific site. Instead, I went to http://www.usa.gov and typed “scam” in the search box.

It is a page of links, and if you’re reading this close to the time of publication, here’s the latest from the blog at USA.gov: Top 5 summer scams and how you can avoid them.  I’m fascinated to see that airline baggage charges are no. 5 on the list. Right up there with phony fuel additives or unlicensed contractors going door to door.
The site as a whole has at least four pages of links. I stopped looking after that. Numerous federal agencies post fraud and scam warnings. So do some other federal government sites. Here are the ones on those first four pages

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • OnGuardOnline.gov
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Office of Federal Student Aid
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • American Embassy in Ghana
  • Consumer.gov
  • American Consulates in Toronto, Canada and Istanbul, Turkey
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Bureau of Consular Affairs
  • US Army
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

I have written them in the order in which I found them.  The first three are well represented on every page, but even the fourth page contained links to agencies appearing for the first time.

This list is not limited to federal government sites. Other well-represented sited include various state agencies and the Red Cross.

I can’t determine any reason for the order of entries. It can’t be the most recent at the top of the list. The first page has a page dated 2011. Conceivably the order is a little different with every search.

Email scam

Email scam

That 2011 page is a list of common online scams. Online. That means it doesn’t include telephone scams or other offline fraud.  Here are the links found there:

  • Work at home
  • Weight loss claims
  • Lotteries and sweepstakes
  • Fake checks
  • Imposter scams
  • Mystery shoppers
  • Bogus apartment rentals
  • Miracle cures
  • Debt relief
  • Pay in advance credit offers
  • The “Nigerian” email scam
  • Online dating
  • Money transfer
  • Tech support

I’m sure anyone who has ever dealt with their own employer’s tech support—or web hosting or any number of opportunities to go round and round and not get much help—smiled knowingly at that last one. But the site refers to real fraud, the kind of “tech support” that call you with virus warnings.

Since I hardly ever check my spam folder, I’m not sure if the “Nigerian” scheme is still making the rounds or not, but all the entries on the entire list have been around for years. Crooks keep working the same scams because they work. Trying to shut operations down is like playing Whack a Mole. They simply find another name and design another page.

I suggest you at least follow the link of my “scam” search and look at the headlines for a page or two. It will give you your own feel for the kinds of fraud lurking to catch the unaware.

Be careful. It’s not a jungle out there; jungle animals are concerned only with eating, mating, and protecting their territory. Calling these scammers rats or snakes simply slanders innocent animals.

Photo credits:
Online fraud. Some rights reserved by Don Hankins.
Email scam. Some rights reserved by o5com. (Link no longer works. August 19, 2016)


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