Scamming is one of the oldest professions in the history of the world. As long as there is something to take, there will always be individuals who will stoop to any lows in order to get it. And if you think that you are safe because you aren't rich enough to be scammed, you couldn't be more wrong. Anyone can be the victim of a scam no matter how smart and protected they think they are. All it takes is the right bait. Here are the seven most infamous scams in the history of the Internet, which made millions of victims.
7. Fake Charity Scam
As I already told you, there are people who will stop at nothing in the pursuit of money and wealth, even if it's taking advantage of the suffering of others without even a second thought. The way this scam works is pretty easy: every time there is a huge disaster such as 9/11 or the nuclear explosion in Japan, there will always pop up a few "charity" websites which claim to gather cash for helping the victims, but those in need never get to see a single penny. Furthermore, there are "actual" registered charity foundations that raise money for all kinds of noble causes, such as feeding the children from Africa or fighting cancer, but some only donate somewhere around 3-5% of their income. And they say that "you can't cheat an honest man"...
6. Rental Scam
This one is a bit less disgusting than the previous one, but just as evil. Rental scams use online real estate websites to present renting offers that are incredibly good. The ad will generally say that the owners of the place are leaving the country, and all they want is someone to occupy and take care of the location while they are gone. The rent fees are very low, and all you need to do to make it yours is pay for a few months in advance, and give a cash deposit. Usually, people find out that the house in question doesn't exist or is owned by someone else only after they send their money, in the meantime the wrongdoers have already vanished.
5. Free Trial Scam
Free is good, right? Wrong! And it's especially no good when the people who are giving out the "free" stuff ask you for your bank account information "just in case you decide to purchase" their product. I'm sure you've all seen ads with various products such as diet pills, weight-loss programs, muscle enhancement pills, etc. which the respective website promises to let you try for free. Even though they ask for your credit account information, you think that it's fine just because you think you have a free will to use the product and not actually buy it if it isn't good. The problem is that it works a bit differently than you were led to believe. Somewhere in the ad it says, in a very small print, that the first 15 or 30 days of the trial don't cost anything, but when the period comes to an end, your subscription for the product will be automatically renewed unless you cancel it. Besides that, by the time you catch on to what's happening, you might have already lost some money from your account, and once you terminate the subscription, the website will usually sell or simply pass your bank account information to another company for profit.
4. Lottery Scam
Congratulations, you've won the lottery! What, you've never played this lottery? So what! You still won. That's how lottery scams work with one small admixture: you have to provide your credit card information in order to receive the millions of "completely real money" that you have won. The worst scams even ask you to pay them for sending you the money. I know that this scam seems incredibly obvious, but you wouldn't believe how many people fell victim to it and either sent cash or offered their credit card information only to find out later that they made an outrageous amount of online shopping with the money from the respective card. I guess that after a certain number of digits, money can really cloud your judgement.
3. Make Cash From Home Scam
Remember when I said that you don't have to be rich to be a target? Well, if you are looking for a way to make money from your computer, chances are you aren't exactly Scrooge McDuck, but people still want to steal from you. The way this scam works is as follows: certain ads offer to teach you how to turn your computer into the golden goose and earn a large amount of cash from the comfort of your home with minimum effort on your part. All you have to do is buy a book to teach you how to do it or information from someone who actually amassed a great fortune from clicking on webpages. If you decide to pay, you will either never receive the respective product or receive information completely unrelated to making money from home. Moreover, the links that you were asked to visit were filled with malware that would eventually force you to reinstall your operating system.
2. Nigeria 419 Scam
Ok, this one was actually really clever. Let's be honest, how many people actually know what's going on in Nigeria? So when you receive a very officially-looking email telling you that a wealthy person is trying to flee the country and promises to reward you if you help them get their large amount of money (or gold in some cases) over the borders. This scam was based on an email in which a person form Nigeria requires your assistance in order to get a huge amount of cash out of the country. The mail itself looked very official and very sincere, and it even had some kind of "official" proof (often guaranteed by the presidency itself) that the person in question actually has the respective amount money, but for some weird reason needed a third party to transfer the money over the borders. After blinding you with her story (it was usually a woman's name), the person would naturally ask you for your bank account information in order to wire you the money. Sometimes, as a gesture of goodwill and insurance that you will not simply run with the money, you were asked to share access to the money on your account. But the scam didn't end there, once you agreed to help, the person would tell you that the bank asked for a few thousands of dollars in order to make the transfer, and since she can't access the account, you should send the money and then you'll get it back immediately from the sum to be transferred. You get no bonus points for guessing how this story ends, but I can tell you that an incredibly huge number of people believed that a perfect stranger would entrust them with millions of dollars.
1. FBI Scam
And we've finally reached the number one in our top. This is as much a scam as it is a virus, and I will immediately explain why it is one of the most insidious things I've seen. What the FBI scam virus does, is completely freezes your computer with a screen which states that the FBI has locked you computer, and you need to pay a $200 fine to unlock it. Furthermore, if you didn't pay in the following three days you will be incarcerated. The reason why this was so treacherous is that the text implied that you recently visited a website with child porn, child abuse or zoophilia content. Furthermore, it went on to announce that you had illegal pornographic material on your hard disk, and your computer has been used to spread spam messages with terrorist motives. So this scam didn't only lock you out of your computer and intimidate you with incarceration in order to extort money from you, but also made it very hard for you to share the problems that you've been facing with pretty much anyone. Don't think that this scam was restricted to the US. Hackers from all over the world modified, translated and put an "official" logo of their respective national police force.