Born and raised in this modern, high-tech world, today’s teenagers assume they are not susceptible to scams and theft on the Internet. The harsh reality just so happens to be that no matter what age you are dangers lurk around every virtual corner when you’re online.
Scammers are out there trying to take advantage of you in every way possible. It can be when you’re trying to buy something off of Craigslist. Here is a scamming incident that I watched unfold firsthand:
A very good friend of mine was browsing through Craigslist in search of a new car when he stumbled upon a 2004 Mustang for a very decent price. The post stated that the car was located in Arizona, which wasn’t too far away, so my buddy decided to keep on watching the activity with the car.
Emails were exchanged back and forth between the seller and my friend, boosting my friend’s level of trust. What my friend was unaware of was the lack of personal information this seller was distributing. No phone numbers were ever given and no name was ever given.
The next step that occurred was the parents contacted the seller through email to finalize their decision. This seller then requested that the money be wired through a money wiring service to make the transaction smoother.
My buddy then went down to Arizona to the address that was provided by this so-called seller, where to his dismay, he found no Mustang. He was crushed. To this day, he still says how foolish he was for falling for this scam. Most importantly his parents were down $6000 just like that.
It’s just sickening to think that these people are out there capitalizing on the trust of teens and their parents.
- Deal locally with folks you can meet in person – follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts
- Never wire funds via Western Union, MoneyGram or any other wire service – anyone who asks you to do so is likely a scammer
- Fake cashier checks & money orders are common and banks will cash them and then hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later
- Craigslist is not involved in any transaction, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer “buyer protection” or “seller certification”
- Guard your financial information – do not email or post online bank account number, Social Security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.
- Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services and know that only a scammer will “guarantee” your transaction
- Do not rent housing without seeing the interior, or purchase expensive items sight-unseen – in all likelihood that housing unit is not actually for rent and that cheap item does not exist
- Do not submit to credit checks or background checks for a job or for housing until you have met the interviewer or landlord/agents in person
It may be an old cliché, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. So, always make sure you know who you’re talking too, before you invest your time, money, and energy. And know what you’re buying.
Crimes like this do not have to happen. And won’t happen to you, if you take proper precautions.
Ben Maxwell is a summer intern at Trend Micro and enjoys helping us with our social media postings. This is his first blog for the Fearless Web.
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