Every day, con artists tempt unsuspecting consumers with get rich quick schemes. Although new variations continue to evolve, the purpose of these scams is the same—to steal your hard-earned money.
In an effort to provide consumers with information regarding these schemes, Comerica Bank has detailed some of the most common scams. Educate yourself on potential scams and if you suspect you are a victim of fraud it is important to act as quickly as possible.
In this scam, consumers receive a phone call, email, or a letter stating that they have won a large sum of money in a foreign lottery. The winner is told that a check will be sent to them to cover part of the taxes they'll owe. They are then instructed to deposit the check into their account, withdraw a specified amount within a few days, and send the funds via wire or money transfer agency to the lottery office. The letter promises the sender that once the funds are received, the remaining prize money will be forwarded to the winner.
Shortly after the money is wired, the deposited check is returned as counterfeit to the consumer's account and no winnings are ever received.
Don't gamble with your money.
Ask yourself the following questions:
How could I win the lottery if I never bought a ticket or entered a sweepstakes?
Why do I need to send money to get my winnings?
Work at Home Scams
The "business", located outside of the United States, needs someone to process checks from their United States customers. The job applicant is to deposit the checks into their account and wire 90% to the “employer” keeping the remaining 10%. The wires may go to various foreign countries. The check turns out to be counterfeit and the "employee" is responsible to their bank for the entire amount. Ask yourself: Why does an international business need me to process checks?
The "business" needs goods available in the United States. The applicant is asked to ship them to an address overseas at their own expense. The shipping fee will be reimbursed (with a counterfeit check). The items to be shipped are usually stolen or purchased with a stolen credit card.
Use extreme caution when dealing with employers you are not familiar with. Do some research on your own.
This scam begins with the consumer receiving a fax, letter, or email from someone with a very confidential business proposal. The letter states that an individual, worth millions of dollars, has died without a will.
The writer is trying to keep the money from reverting to a corrupt government and requests assistance from the consumer. The victim is asked to provide an account number where the money can be transferred, and in exchange for this "service," the victim will make a profit.
A check is sent to the victim for deposit into their bank account. Then the victim is instructed to send funds back to the originator of the letter via wire, money orders, or money transfer agency in increments under $10,000, and keep the "extra" money in their account.
Shortly after the money is wired, the deposited check is returned as counterfeit to the victim’s account, no winnings are ever received and the victim is responsible for the entire amount of the check.
If it is too good to be true, ask yourself:
Why would the writer want to share the money?
Why do they want this transaction kept confidential?
Why do they want some of the money returned to them?
Elder Financial Abuse
Many innocent older adults are falling victim to financial exploitation and robbed of their life savings every day. Financial exploitation against the elderly is defined as any illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets.
Examples of exploitation can include stealing their personal information and making unauthorized withdrawals on the elder’s account, deceiving them into believing they have won the lottery or sweepstakes or abusing powers of attorney, conservatorship or guardianships for the detriment of the elder’s financial or physical wellbeing.