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Recognize and Report Online Fraud

Do You Know How to Detect Online Fraud?

Online fraud has become so prevalent that many agencies and businesses are now devoted to the issue. Government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and companies like eConsumer Services® work to help consumers report online fraud and fight back.

The fact that so many public and private resources are devoted to online fraud means that the problem is serious. And it’s growing.  In fact, every day dozens fall victim to internet fraud; the United States is leading the way, reporting more cases of fraud than other countries around the world.

Statistics & Prevalence

Online fraud statistics in the United States suggest that we are leading the way in cases of fraud. This translates to a monetary loss of $1,800 for each victim and a combined loss of more than $525 million.

While many are wary of the Nigerian prince in need of a favor, or the long lost lover that can never quite find time to video chat, most scams aren’t always obvious or typical–and many are growing in sophistication.

Common Scams

In order to recognize online fraud, you must first know what kinds of scams are common in order to quickly identify red flags before it’s too late. Let’s review a few common fraud techniques and scams.

  • Business: If you spend any time online you’ve likely run into someone claiming to make a lot of money on the Internet. Although many of these “my sister makes $5,000 a month and you can too” comments are written off as spam, some are more convincing. This common scam may seem innocent, but for those that take the bait, it can quickly turn into a nightmare scenario. You’ll be asked to pay for training, equipment and membership dues, all while receiving nothing in return.
  • Identity Theft: Among the top of the consumer complaints list last year was identity theft, and for many it’s the scariest. Cyber criminals can easily access your bank account and credit lines, as well as create new ones.
  • Imposter:  This scam preys on your willingness to help a friend in need. Scammers typically send an email, pretending to be a friend who has been robbed or suffered some other misfortune and needs money wired via Western Union. In the end, it is not your friend but an imposter.
  • Investment: Even the trustworthiness of investments can be a sly scam in disguise. This is true in offline investments as well. Even so, unsolicited emails with promises of profitable investments are almost always a scam.
  • Romance: One of the oldest scams around is the romance scam. It’s evolved and grown with modern technology to offer scammers a broader reach and increased access to potential victims. The goal of the scammer is to lower your defenses through establishing a relationship with you. They then ask for gifts, money, or other favors, and eventually leaving you behind to move on to the next target.
  • Foreign Transactions:  Ordering items from a foreign country can be taxing. There’s the issue of payment and exchange rate, as well as package tracking limitations and customs forms. While there are many legitimate business located in countries across the globe accessible online, all are not what they seem. Once your item is ordered, all communication turns cold and your merchandise is nowhere to be found.


While online fraud is prevalent, there are things that you can do to protect yourself and legal recourse. There are also actions you can take if and when you or someone you know is ever a victim of Internet fraud.

Report scam emails when you receive them. You may be tempted to send them to your spam folder and move on, but others may not. It is important to notify officials and spread awareness.

If a business is the perpetrator, take action too. Fight back and file a complaint against an online business in an effort to recover your losses.


Above all, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you are a victim. Stand up for yourself and others. Learn from the experience and equip yourself with the tools necessary for present and future protection.