Consumer Fraud No Longer Shocking

The depth, breadth, creativity, and depravity of scams and the scammers that perpetrate them no longer shock or offend. From grandmother scams to online dating scams, identity theft, data breaches, and any form of phishing or advanced fee scams, when you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But the bad guys continue to find new ways to skin a cat.

The Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Sentinel Network received 725,000 consumer complaints of fraud in 2010. The defrauded consumers who reported fraud last year lost $1.7 billion.

Beware of the following scams.

Auction Scams: This ruse involves fake profiles advertising goods and accepting payments, with no intention of ever shipping any items. Scammers often contact potential victims within an auction website, but then bring communications to outside email or phone. Once the target engages with the scammer, social engineering commences.

Craigslist Scams: A scammer responds to a seller, claiming he wishes to purchase an item. He mails the seller a fake check for an amount in excess of the purchase price, with extra money included for shipping, and requests that the buyer deposit the check and then wire the payment to the shippers from the buyer’s own account. By the time the check bounces, the scammer has already received the seller’s money.

Dating Scams: Criminals pose as lovesick Romeos or Juliets, looking to sweep their victims off their feet while emptying their bank accounts. Marriage is often discussed within the first week of communications, and the word love is used as frequently as the victims’ names, which coincidently are two of the most important words a person can hear.

For consumers, education and awareness is key. For platforms on which the scams proliferate, one risk mitigation solution employed by auction sites, retailers, and dating sites is device reputation management. This not only keeps known bad computers or mobile devices from creating more fake accounts, but it also protects businesses against brand new devices that are behaving similarly to cyber criminals.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses Scambaiting on Fox News. (Disclosures)

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