Warning! These are Scary Scams You Might Accidently Fall For

When it comes to scams, people like to think they are smart enough not to fall for them. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Email scams usually target the older generations who are unfamiliar with all the latest technology.

Portrait of a grandfather holding his piggy bank trying to protect his savings from being stolen.
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It may be surprising to hear, but millennials get scammed too. Sometimes it’s through romance, money, or even fear. Here are some of the most common scams. Some are well-known like the Nigerian Prince, while others are less heard of.

The Nigerian Prince

The Nigerian Prince is the oldest scam in the book. If you were born in the email generation, you have definitely heard of this one. In the email, the Prince informs you that he got an inheritance but has to leave the country.

Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall starring in the movie 'Coming to America.'
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Long story short, he decided you would be the perfect person to help him store the money in an offshore account. Here’s the scam part: he promises to share his royal inheritance with you as long as you help him with taxes and legal fees so that the deposit can clear. Spoiler alert: you don’t get any money.

The Classic Phishing Scam

This is a scam that even the biggest skeptics can fall for. You receive an email from a seemingly reliable source such as the bank or Amazon telling you that there is a problem with your account.

A screenshot of an email inbox full of spam messages.
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There is a link attached to the email saying click to update information, or “your account will be suspended.” However, by clicking on the link, you may unintentionally download malware or accidentally provide the scammer with personal details.

The Perfect Girlfriend/Boyfriend

Imagine randomly getting a message on Tinder, or even on Facebook, from an account with an attractive profile picture. And better yet, the person seems super into you, telling you how smart and funny you are and wants to meet you in person.

A young woman having an online date with a fake boyfriend.
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Here’s the catch: money. It may seem obvious that you shouldn’t give money to strangers you meet online, but it can get a bit tricky when your hormones and feelings are involved. We all want to find love, but if someone asks you for money before you even met, it’s probably a scam. At the very least, it’s a huge red flag!

Texting Scam

This scam is very similar to the phishing ones. The only difference is that instead of an email, you receive a text message. The text message seems urgent, telling you to click the link to sort out the problem.

A young woman holding a cell phone and seems annoyed by spam.
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Pay very close attention to these random text messages. You don’t want to accidentally provide a scammer with your personal account information. If you receive one of these messages, I recommend calling the bank before opening any links.

Credit Card Pre-Approval

If you’re anything like me, you may not have the most impressive credit. Therefore, getting pre-approved for a new fancy credit card can be quite exciting. Of course, there is one tiny catch…

Senior woman giving her credit card details out over the phone.
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All you have to do is pay the annual fee upfront. Don’t do it. Never trust anyone or any company that makes you pay upfront unless you have a reliable receipt. If you pay that fee, you will never see that credit card.

“Work From Home” Mailed Check

When you receive a pop-up ad promising $2,000 a week for working from home, chances are it’s a scam. After clicking on the link and applying for the job, you may get a check that got a few hundred dollars from the “boss” before you even started working.

A young woman working from home on her couch.
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The “employer” will then tell you that it was a mistake and to wire it back. Don’t do it! The check will bounce! This is a classic scam that many people get tangled in because $2000 a week for working from the living room seems like an ideal situation.

“Work From Home” Upfront Fees

Similar to the previous scam, this is another variation of the “work from home” rip-off. In this case, your new fake employer will ask you for an “activation fee” to cover training. Eager to start a new and exciting job, a lot of people won’t think twice about this.

An older woman being lured into an online scam that promises easy money.
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I mean, if this were real, it seems like a worthy investment. Unfortunately, as soon as you pay this activation fee, your new boss will disappear along with your money.

Overpaying Craigslist Scam

Let’s say you are selling your bike on Craigslist when you get a message from a buyer offering to pay more than your asking price. The only catch is that the buyer on the other side of the message is in a different country and needs you to send it through their shipping company.

Craiglist website under a magnifying glass. There are advertisements for jobs, housing, sale, services, and community listings.
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This should be an immediate red flag! To make this seem fair, the buyer sends you a $2000 check instead of the $900 you initially asked for; all you have to do is wire $600 to the shipping company. Needless to say, you’re $2000 check is fake, and you just lost $600.

All-Expenses Paid Vacation

Everyone loves a good vacation! That’s why a lot of people get way too excited when they receive a call or email telling them that they have won a fully paid vacation in the Caribbean or some other exotic location.

Photograph of a family of four on vacation on a beautiful beach.
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As you’re packing for the trip, you will get a call saying they need your credit card information so that they can hold your reservation. Don’t expect to hear from them again, and unfortunately, your much-needed vacation.

You Won the Sweepstakes!

Another classic scam is when you get an alert that you won the sweepstakes or even more suspiciously, the lottery. The first red flag should come when you realize you never even entered a contest!

A woman holding an open red envelope with a letter stating 'Congratulations You're a winner!'.
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They will ask you to send a few hundred dollars for taxes and then send you a much larger check. Sadly, you will not receive any check, and you are now out a couple hundred dollars.

The Bill Gates Scam

The Bill Gates Scam is very similar to the Sweepstakes scam. Bill Gates himself chooses to give you $5 million as part of his charity project. Basically, he selected 10 people from all around the world, and you happen to be one of them.

A photo of Bill Gates holding a piece of paper which shows he is giving away money if you click on a link.
Source: Pinterest

All you have to do is pay a few hundred dollars for delivery. First of all, you don’t have to pay delivery for a check, and even if you did, if this was actually Bill Gates, he would have covered it for you.

Infection Detected

Whoever thought of this one is kind of funny. Using your own fears of getting a virus against you. Here is how it works: you will get a pop up with scary-looking graphic, such as a huge red X on your screen.

An exclamation point in a yellow triangle on a computer screen with a virus detected alert showing up.
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The alert notifies you that your computer is infected with a virus. However, you can clear out the system and solve the problem by clicking the link and paying $50. DON’T DO IT! Not only will you be out 50 bucks, but your perfectly good computer will now be filled with viruses.

Discount Concert Tickets

Some people consider “service fees” on Ticketmaster as a scam, but this one is much worse. This scam usually comes in the form of an email or an ad, notifying you about discounted tickets to an awesome concert!

Close up of a girl's hand, placing the last puzzle piece over the word 'Fees.'
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Since this one is not completely free, it might sound legit. It’s even more believable when the tickets come through after entering your credit card information. Unfortunately, when you get to the concert, security will turn you away since these tickets are totally fake!

Counterfeit Tickets

This scam is very similar to the previous scam, but there are a couple of differences. In this scam, hard-to-get tickets appear on Craigslist for way less many than they are worth. Considering this is a sold-out concert, you don’t want to miss out on such a bargain!

Two fake tickets to a Pink show at Boston Garden.
Source: WBZ-TV

Unfortunately, you’re going to miss out anyways. After you pull out your credit card and receive the tickets, try not to get your hopes up. Just like the discounted tickets, these will also be fake, but you won’t even know it until security escorts you out.

IRS Calling

I’m going to let the IRS explain this one. “Con artists make unsolicited calls claiming to be IRS officials. They demand that the victim pay a bogus tax bill. They convince the victim to send cash, usually through a wire transfer or a prepaid debit card or gift card.”

Photo of a hand holding a phone with an IRS scam call.
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They continue telling us what to do, “threated to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying; demand that taxes be paid without allowing taxpayers to question or appeal the amount owed…” There you go, straight from the IRS’s mouth!

“See Who’s Viewed Your Profile”

This is a pretty straight forward one that many millennials fall for. It promises to show you who has been looking at any of your social media platforms. However, when you click, it asks for personal information.

A screenshot of a scam to see who has viewed your profile on facebook.
Source: WordPress

We all want to know if our crush is viewing our profiles, but we need to get over it! It’s not worth falling for this scam. This can really lead to sensitive information being compromised or infect your computer with viruses.

Free Gift Cards

We all love a good gift card. From Starbucks to Target, gift cards have become really popular in recent years. What you may not know is that they are even more popular with scammers!

Two young women at the mall with shopping bags and gift cards in hand.
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If you receive an offer for a free gift certificate, don’t trust it! Chances are, it’s a scheme trying to get all your personal information. You definitely don’t want to fall for this one!

The Mover Up-Charge

As exciting as it is to move homes, it can be very expensive and stressful. That’s why when a moving company offers to move your furniture for a low and price; it’s easy to jump on the opportunity.

Three men in blue onesies unloading a moving van.
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Considering the price exchange happened over the phone, you probably won’t hear about the cost again until your stuff is already moved. Suddenly the price will double. The company has plenty of reasons on the go as to why the price changed, leaving you with no option but to pay.

The Vanishing Movers

This moving scam is even more devastating. Typically found through Craigslist, the mover packs up all your furniture onto his truck, only to disappear with it. That’s right. He drives away with all your stuff, never to be seen again.

A photo of boxes and belongings thrown on the side of the street after movers took what they wanted.
Source: CBC

Whenever you need a mover, are any kind of service, make sure to check that the company is legit to avoid these types of situations. BBB.org will help you make sure that your working with a dependable moving company.

The Broken Bottle Scam

Okay, this one is a little bit more personal and usually takes place in big crowded cities. What happens is, you accidentally bump into someone, and they drop their bag, breaking a bottle of expensive wine or liquor.

A brown glass bottle of alcohol broken on the floor of a sidewalk with blurred people in the background.
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They demand you pay for it, so to avoid causing a scene, you give them the 80 bucks so you can just leave the situation. As you walk away, the guy bumps into someone else and does this scam all over again.

“Payment Requested”

With all the money that goes into bills and expenses these days, it wouldn’t be too surprising to get a notice warning you about an outstanding bill that will go to collections unless you take care of it right away.

A form for request of payment on a blue clipboard sitting on a desk.
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I’d probably believe it and so would other people, which is it’s important to be careful! If you send a check or a credit card payment, you may be handing your money over to a scam without even knowing it.

Too-Good-to-be-True Rental

If you are looking to rent an apartment and come across a nice place with a great deal, you would jump on the chance, and I can’t blame you. However, if you are apartment hunting on Craigslist or any other sketchy website, you should slow down.

Photo of a large brick mansion with white columns and a for rent sign showing
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Before you give anyone any sensitive information or a deposit, make sure you at least see the apartment. If the price is “too-good-to-be-true” don’t put down money right away.

Facebook “Dislike”

Since Facebook tries to spread positivity, they don’t have a dislike button. If you feel like things are too cheery in your social media world, an ad to enable a “dislike” button might sound appealing.

Close up of the Facebook logo with the dislike icons surrounding it.
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However, most social media platforms, including Facebook, don’t have the option of enabling a dislike button. By clicking on it, you may accidentally download a virus or worse, expose your personal information.

Fake Celebrity News

Sometimes, all it takes is a shocking headline about a famous celebrity to get you to click on a pop-up ad. You assume the link will take you to an article when, in reality, it takes you to a malware download.

A screenshot of fake news that Brad Pitt was found dead in an apparent suicide.
Source: Facebook

If your favorite star got in a car accident or got arrested, you probably don’t need a pop-up ad to hear about it. Be careful with these headlines because downloading a virus can cause serious problems for your computer.

Charity Chicanery

The most deceitful and effective scams are those that target your desire to do good. After a significant tragedy such as a destructive hurricane, it’s common to receive emails asking for donations.

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Although the charities seem to be legitimate, you should be smart enough to go directly to the site and explore the charity. Even though your intentions are good, you don’t want to give your hard-earned money to a scam!

The Scandalous Photo

Getting a Facebook message from a childhood friend can be intriguing, especially when they say something like, “I can’t believe this photo is you.” It’s understandable for it to pique your interest but, don’t click on it!

Photo of a spam message on facebook from a friend who can't believe this video is yours with the link shown underneath.
Source: Twitter

Instead of taking you to a picture of you back in middle school, it takes you to a weird file-sharing website that can install viruses on your computer.

Account Cancellation Notice

It can be very alarming to receive an email with a notice telling you that your credit card has been canceled. I would be concerned enough to follow instructions and click the link to my account.

A hacker in front of his computer with a black hoodie on.
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However, if you enter your username and password, you may have unintentionally handed your login info to a scammer. When you receive emails like this, it’s always safer to call your bank and speak with them directly.

Confirm Your Email Account

This scam is almost identical to the previous scam. If you receive a request to confirm your email address from your bank or any other “reliable” company, it doesn’t hurt to make sure the email is legit.

A login screen on a smartphone With spaces for Username and password.
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Clicking through and filling out your personal information is exactly what the scammers want you to do! Always double-check with the bank before giving any personal information online.

Stranger Friend Request

If you are a friendly person, then getting a friend request from someone you have no mutual friends with is just another way to make friends. I shouldn’t have to be the one to tell you this, but don’t accept strangers.

Facebook notifications of friend requests, messages, and notifications on a smartphone.
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Accepting a friend requesting from someone you don’t know can expose a lot of your personal information. The scammer now has your family member’s names, your birthday, and other information that can help them hack your accounts!

Duplicate Friend Request

Have you ever received a friend request from someone who you could have sworn you were already friends with? Similarly to the stranger request, this is possibly a scammer.

Screenshot of a person posts on facebook saying,
Source: Tumblr

If you’re too smart to accept a stranger, the scammers get creative and make a profile of someone who you would accept, in fact, you already have. If you think you are getting a duplicate friend request, it doesn’t hurt to trust your gut and make sure.

Strange Request From a Friend

The most effective scams out there come from someone you know. It’s way easier to trust a friend than a stranger. So if one of your friends asks you to help them with medical bills or to tell you to click on a link, it doesn’t seem very suspicious.

A friend reaching her hand out to help someone who seems to be on the floor.
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If you don’t know that they are undergoing medical treatments, you probably shouldn’t send them money. Be careful! It could be that they were hacked and that the hackers are trying to get you next!

Mugged on Vacation

One of the most common and doubtful scams out there is the “mugged on vacation” scam. This is when a friend randomly messages you, telling you that they were mugged and lost everything.

A man's hand reaching into a woman's backpack stealing her wallet on a train station platform.
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Considering they don’t have a phone or credit card, they need your help getting home. Of course, they promise to pay you back as soon as they get back. Don’t fall for this one. It’s common and preys on good intentions.

Job Scams

This scam is aimed towards people who posted their resumes on job sites. The victim receives a job offer with a convincing (but fake) company logo in a foreign country. To continue the process, guess what you have to do.

A man with his resume on his desk next to his laptop before sending it in to find a new job.
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That’s right. Send money. Apparently, the money covers the paperwork and work permit. Unfortunately, some people are so desperate for a job that they end up falling for these types of scams.

Caller ID Scam

This scam is another one that works on a person’s natural instincts. You get a call from an unknown number, but the person on the line says he’s with the local police and needs some information to rule you out as a suspect.

A smartphone receiving a call from an unknown phone number.
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A call like that can cause panic, and it’s instinctual to follow directions. However, the best way to make sure this is legit is to ask them if you can call them on that number. Scammer’s phones don’t usually get incoming calls, but the police definitely do.

One-Ring Scam

You may get a call from a number you don’t recognize. It rings once and then stops. Thanks to your curiosity, you are eager to know who could have possibly called you.

A smartphone with three missed call notifications.
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No matter how tempting it is, don’t call back. If you call back, you will later notice that you were automatically charged, even though this is a service you clearly didn’t ask for.

“Look at This Resume”

For this scam, you will receive a pretty official-looking email from a name that you don’t recognize. It comes with an attachment and sounds important. Like it has something do with something you’d forgotten.

A hacked phone with hologram data around it.
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“Here’s that presentation.” “Look at this resume.” Invoice attached.” Take the time to wonder why you are getting this email. Once you click the attachment, you exposed your computer and possibly your company’s to malware.

The Kidnapping Scam

The kidnapping scam is very similar to the “mugged overseas” scam. In this case, someone you know tells you that either they (or one of their family members) have been kidnapped from ransom.

Close up view of a woman's hands tied in a knot with a rope behind her back with white smoke in the background.
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Although this can be alarming, instead of wiring money right away, don’t panic! Try to contact your friend in other ways, and you will find out that they are probably perfectly safe! This is a scam you do not want to fall for.

Court Notice

Getting an email from a lawyer telling you to appear in court is sure to catch your attention. This scam includes a link to your “court notice,” which you should avoid clicking on.

Judges gavel on a document of prosecution in a brown envelope with 'Notice' written on the top of the paper inside.
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This is a common scam, and there is no court order. If there were, there are other ways to contact you. Clicking this link will infect your device with viruses. Here is your warning.

Fake Tech Support Calls

If you get a call at your office and the person at the other end of the line claims to work at Microsoft and is investigating a malware attack. This sounds innocent enough, but hang up immediately.

A tech support agent in a headset consulting with someone on the phone.
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Next, they will ask for access to your desktop, and this is where it becomes dangerous. Once they are in, they can quickly install ransomware and log you out. You and your company will have to go through a lot to get those files back.

Free Stuff

Everyone loves free stuff, and this scam preys on that part of human nature. These scams promise you anything from free pizza to free movies! However, to claim these freebies, you have to click on the link.

A man standing next to a table with a laptop sitting on it showing 'free stuff' on the screen.
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I probably don’t have to tell you this, but don’t click on the link. It very rare for companies to give you stuff without receiving something in return. The only thing you will get for free is a computer virus.