Keep your eyes open for Advance Fee Scams

Criminals continue to find new and different strategies to gain your confidence in order to separate you from your money. A quick internet search for “scams” will yield millions of results of news articles, variations of scams and victims’ distressing impact stories. Often, there is an Identity Theft component in addition to the negative financial impact. The two most prevalent categories of scams are Advance Fee and Overpayment Scams. In this post, we hope to raise your awareness of Advance Fee Scams so that you may identify the scam and avoid being a scam victim.

What Is An Advance Fee Scam?

Much as it sounds, Advance Fee Scams are scams that require victims to make a small advance or upfront payment for goods, services or financial gain that promises a significant reward that never materializes. There are many Advance Fee Scams that you may have already heard of; Work from Home Scams, Lottery Scams and Romance Scams. Do you know how to identify the specific characteristics of a scam?

While checking your email, you notice a message with the subject line, Luxury Vacations and open it to read more. In the email, the message indicates that by purchasing travel vouchers in advance, you can save thousands on luxury overseas vacations — without travel restrictions. The email provides a link with further information about the voucher system. The website has picturesque photos of islands, snow covered mountains and historic locales. The site has numerous customer testimonies touting the value of the vouchers and detailing the amenities they received while traveling. The site offers discounted rates for vouchers to first time buyers. It all looks too good to be true.

If it sounds or looks too good to be true, it probably is. In the above example, there are several items that should cause you to be skeptical.

First, the email itself; did you solicit an email from a travel company? Have you recently searched travel sites looking to book a vacation? While not too concerning that you received it, it is always important to consider the validity of the source of the email.

Second, the offer; what legitimate travel agency offers pre-paid vouchers without restrictions? Most legitimate sites have disclaimer language and most will have travel date restrictions.

Lastly, the testimonies; when was the last time you saw anything online with only positive reviews? The site is most likely completely fabricated, just like the reviews.

The best scams are ones that appear the most credible; be aware of the warning signs for Advance Fee Scams:

  • You receive an unsolicited email, phone call, text message, letter or visit from a salesperson promising an exciting or valuable opportunity for a small advance payment or fee.
  • You are asked for an advance payment to cover administration fees, taxes, postage or shipping.
  • You are offered a generous reward once a small upfront payment is made.
  • You have to pay a small fee to help someone you have been corresponding with online, but have never met in person.
  • You have to pay a small processing fee in advance of obtaining a loan with a low interest rate and extended terms.
  • Your new job requires that you negotiate checks and process payments to unknown individuals located outside of the area.

In the last example, you can not only expect to lose money, but you could also be held liable for perpetrating check fraud.

Investment opportunities with amazing rates and promising returns no one else is offering…jobs that promise simple tasks and abbreviated work schedules with generous compensation…vacation rentals in stunning locations for discounted prices…they all sound like amazing opportunities — to become the victim of a scam.

BFSFCU is committed to helping you protect your personal information from scam artists; with your diligence, we can work together to prevent fraud.