Do you trust me because I speak Spanish? That sounds like a strange question, but in some communities – and in some situations – it could be enough for someone to trust a stranger.
At the Fraud Affects Every Community workshop recently held at FTC headquarters, we heard from panelists living and working in diverse communities about ways scammers are using language, shared customs, relationships and community practices to steal people’s money.
Selling your used stuff online has become commonplace. So have scams taking advantage of the good names of reputable online companies. At the FTC, we’ve heard from people stung by scammers spoofing PayPal. The scam generally goes like this: You post a high-value item, like a used car, for sale online. In no time at all, you get an email from a buyer willing to pay full price — or more! But he sets conditions; he is only willing to pay by PayPal or insists the sale must happen right away. What’s really going on? A ruse to steal your personal information, money or merchandise.
Here are some suspicious situations to look for and steps to safe selling online.
All of us are part of some kind of community, however we define that. Asian-American. Service member. Latino. Older adult.
Here at the FTC, we’re wondering what the marketplace looks like in different communities, and thinking about how fraud creeps in. We’ve seen some examples of fraud targeting specific groups. In fact, we recently filed a case against alleged phone scammers who targeted older adults, pretended to be from Medicare, and took millions from consumers’ bank accounts.
But we want to hear from people working in different communities directly: what does fraud look like where you are?
If you’re looking to run your own business, you might be tempted by ads that claim you can buy into a ready-made business opportunity and make a lot of money. But some companies touting big earnings are promising more than they can deliver, and the FTC is taking action to stop them.
I confess… I once was a mystery shopper. Decades ago, I shopped at stores to see what they were charging for certain products and visited restaurant chains to evaluate the food and service. I wrote up a report, sent it in, and received a check for my work. Nothing I could make a living from, but it helped fill the gas tank.
Back then, it didn’t occur to me that responding to a mystery or secret shopper ad could set me up for a scam. Now I know – if you’re looking to make extra money as a mystery shopper, it pays to do some homework to make sure the job is real.
The FTC’s second Spanish-language fotonovela is about scams that promise you can make money selling high-end products or brand-name merchandise. If the pitch sounds familiar, that’s because the story is based on facts from a recent FTC lawsuit against a company that targeted Spanish speakers nationwide. Income Scams tells the story of Fatima, a consumer who is looking for a way to earn some extra money.
The Federal Trade Commission works closely with legal services providers and consumer advocates to root out frauds affecting communities across the nation. Several of our partners have told us about an income scam that’s targeting Latino organizations -- even churches. Here’s how it works:
Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
The FTC joins with other federal agencies to celebrate Hispanic heritage from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 during our nation’s official Hispanic Heritage Month. But the FTC uses enforcement and education every day, all year long, as part of its mission to protect all consumers from unfair and deceptive practices in the marketplace, online and off. We use our enforcement authority to stop scams that target Spanish speakers, whether they involve fraudulent marketing practices, illegal debt collection practices, false advertising claims, or identity theft.
We deliver free information in Spanish on a wide range of consumer issues, in a variety of formats. Our resources in Spanish help Latino consumers recognize government imposters, protect their computers from malware and their personal information from phishing attempts, and avoid income scams.
You get an email from your boss’s boss requesting that you make a wire transfer to a new vendor. The email is marked urgent, so you ignore the 20 others that need your attention to take care of it. You handle wire transfers all the time, and you’ll definitely score points for responding so quickly, right? Maybe not.
In a recent scheme, sometimes called “masquerading,” a hacker poses as a senior executive and asks an employee to complete a financial transaction, like a confidential business investment or a payment to a vendor. Once money is wired to a bogus account, it can be nearly impossible to recover.