One of the trickiest methods modern day scammers use to fool the unsuspecting public into
handing over their money and/or sensitive information is through the use of email. Internet email
scams are growing in number, and they are getting more and more stealthy in their way of doing
their deceptive business. Here are some of the most common email scams to watch out for, and a
few ways you can protect yourself from the fraud in your inbox.
One of the most successful email scams is called a phishing scam. Even a savvy web surfer can fall
for one of these if they are not careful. The scam goes as follows: The victim will receive an email
from, let’s say, eBay. The email will indicate someone has tried to break into your eBay account,
and thus eBay security has locked your account in order to protect you. All you have to do is go
to your eBay account, type in your name, password, bank information, and PIN number, and your
account will be put back to rights. Helpfully, they provide a link in the email to take you to your
sing in page. You click the link, put in your name and password, give over your bank information,
and your account is back to normal. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. You’ve just been phished.
Though the email looks as though it was from eBay, and may have even had “eBay” in the return
address, it was not from eBay. And even though the page you went to looked exactly like your
sign in page, it wasn’t. These scammers set up spoof email accounts and replica pages in order to
fool victims into giving them, not eBay (or Yahoo, or AOL, etc.) sensitive financial information.
In order to avoid these scams, never click on an email link in order to verify your account
information. If you receive an email such as the one above, open your eBay (or other web
account) page in a separate browser from your bookmarks in order to ensure you’re actually
going to the right page. Chances are, when you get there, there will be nothing wrong with your
Another popular email scam is a variation of the old con game, “The Spanish Prisoner”. This scam
typically originates from Nigeria. The scammer contacts the victim, relating a story of a fortune
they wish to extrapolate from their country. In return for the victim’s help with American legal
fees and other such bothersome petty costs, the scammer promises to share a portion of their
wealth, usually in the millions of dollars. Of course, there is no money, and the victim winds up
out whatever “legal fees” they have wired to the scammer. Though the con has been around a
long time, and seems almost preposterously too good to be true, its popularity is due to the fact
that many people fall for this every year. Don’t become one of them.
Finally, there is the overpayment scam. This is the one to watch out for if you are offering
something for sale on the internet. A potential buyer will contact you, wishing to buy the item.
They will pay your asking price, no questions asked. The way they would prefer to do business,
however, is to send you a cashier’s check for *above* the asking price. You could then refund
them the difference, and they will arrange to pick up the item at a later date. The cashier’s check
clears, everything seems good, and you send along the difference. Then, the bank informs you that
the check in fact has bounced, and suddenly you are out the “difference” you sent to the scammer.
This one is growing in popularity and seems safe until you know the details. Watch out for this
These are just three example of some of the more nefarious internet email scams out there. Watch
out for anything in your inbox that seems too good to be true, asks for any sensitive information,
or involves you doing something in a way that seems off in any way. Chances are, it’s a scam.