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January 24, 2017

ScamWise – “How Could They Fall For That?”

It’s easy to point fingers and say “I’d never fall for that . . .” until it happens to you or someone you know.


When so much information exists on preventing scams, it's hard to believe that people still fall victim. But, just as the business world and technology are always evolving, so are scammers and their schemes.

A little help?

A common fraud tactic involves making victims feel like they're "helping out" by acting as go-betweens. Many victims assume there's no harm in helping since they're just handling someone else's money. In actuality, however, the scam is going to hit them right in their own wallets. Here are some ways this can happen.

  • Serving as a conduit. Scammers often ask their victim to serve as a go-between for a transaction, using various excuses as to why they can't use their own account (such as being from or in another country). They might say something like, "I need to get this money to someone but I'm overseas and don't have a bank account there in Tampa." The scammer sends a legitimate-looking check to the victim, the victim deposits it into their own bank account and then sends the money to a third party—only to find out later that the first check was a fake. The victim is then liable for repaying the money that should have passed through their account.
  • Giving an all-access pass. To further convince their victim that all they need is a little help, the scammer might offer to deposit money directly into their victim's bank account...all they need are the victim's login credentials. Once the victim shares their online banking access, the scammer has full license to do whatever they want with their victim's money.
  • Swayed by big dollars.One of the biggest red flags is when a scammer sends a very large (fake) check to their victim and then asks the victim to send that money using a third-party money transfer company. These types of transactions can cost victims thousands of dollars.

You're already a winner!

Legitimate entities, such as the Florida Lottery, would never randomly mail you a check and demand payment before the rest of the prize is awarded. Be leery of any prize that requires a financial contribution.

Stay smart

These examples are just a few ways that seemingly innocent transactions can have detrimental effects. The fact is that scams can take many forms, so it's always a good idea to stay educated on the latest ploys and to carefully review your credit card and bank statements.

MIDFLORIDA can help

If you're suspicious of someone you're communicating with online, contact us to discuss the situation and get some advice on how to research it further. Be sure to visit our Security page for scam alerts, safety tips and security notices so you can be on guard against activity that could lead to identity theft or fraud of your account.

Helpful Links

Internet Crime Complaint Center
Federal Trade Commission
Fake check information and anti-scam resources