The "Nigerian" Scam also called "Advance Fee" Scam
In this email the scammers request help to get large sums of money out of a foreign country. They promise you big profits in exchange for your assistance but before you receive anything, you'll have to provide money to cover the transaction, transfer and legal costs plus you'll need to provide them with your bank account numbers. The "Nigerian" Scam: Costly Compassion from the Federal Trade Comission (FTC) has more information.
Advance-Fee Loan Scam
These emails promise that a loan or credit will be approved even if you've been turned down many times already. But in order to get this loan you have to pay a fee. Advance-Fee Loan Scams: 'Easy' Cash Offers Teach Hard Lessons from the FTC has more information.
These emails promise a steady income with just a little work in your spare time. Common schemes are envelope stuffing, email processing, assembly or craft work, and medical billing. You may have to pay a "fee" for materials, instructions, or equipment. Fall for any of these offers and you'll probably be out of money instead of earning any. Work-at-Home Schemes from the FTC has more details.
These emails either promise great odds or indicate that you've won money in a lottery in another country. You will have to pay to get your prize or collect your winnings. International Lottery Scams from the FTC has more details. A variation on this scam assures you that you’ve won an iPad or other desirable product but, before you can collect it, you have to pay a fee.
Check Overpayment Scams
Someone responds to your ad or online auction posting, offering to buy your item. The catch is that for some reason, the check you'll receive is for more than the purchase price. They want you to wire them back the difference. Check Overpayment Scams: Seller Beware and Be Suspicious About Wiring Money Back After Cashing a Check from the FTC have more information.
Counterfeit Check Scams
These scams are another version of the Nigerian or advance fee scam. If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Is: How to Protect Yourself Against Cashier's Check Fraud from the American Bankers Association Education Foundation has more information.
These emails offer so-called investments with high rates of return and little or no risk. Usually there is little detail about the investment but lots of details about how much money you can make. Investment Risks from the FTC provides tips to help you spot these fraudulent pitches.
These sites describe these and other scams.
- OnGuard Online: Email Scams has more detail about spam scams and links to other resources.
- LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com describes these and many other scams on their fraud page.
- Test your scam knowledge with the quiz: Spam Scam Slam – Don't be Fooled. It's from OnGuard Online.