There are tons of schemes out there to convince consumers that they've "won a lottery" or are a few dollars away from receiving a package. But if the con artist is using a form of wiring money, it doesn't matter what the story is -- you'll still be out of cash.
Viewers have often sent us detailed accounts of how they were approached by scheming folks out to drain their pocketbooks.
Here’s how one long-running "lottery" scheme works:
An e-mail is sent from the schemer telling the victim they’ve won money in a foreign lottery. All the victim needs to do is pay transfer fees, taxes, or provide their account information to receive the money. Soon after, the scheme organizer may send a money order or cashiers check to the victim, who, once they’ve cashed the check needs to send some money back to the schemer.
If the transfer is completed, it’s the schemer that really won the lottery. Giving out personal account information allows them to buy things using your money or credit card.
When schemers send money orders or checks, they are usually fraudulent, which will cause a bounced check. That means you won’t get the money you’re expecting, and the bank may charge you for the difference or additional fees for a bounced check. If you’re sending some of that money already back, you’re responsible for that cost from your bank account.
Though that's just one example of the story and method of online or telephone schemes, the Federal Trade Commission has heard of lots more. Their online guides covering money wiring schemes, impostors that pose as government agencies, and "mystery shopping" schemes.
Visiting their website is a great way to double check if what is in your inbox is too good to be true. Additionally, if there's a new scheme you've heard of, contacting the FTC is a great way to make sure others aren't bilked by the same story.