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Top 10 Online Money Transfer Scams to Watch Out For

Sending money online has always been seen as uncertain – after all, you have very little control over the transaction once it leaves your account. Fraudsters and scam artists are well aware of this and have a number of tricks to bleed victims of their hard earned cash. We’re going to take you through the most popular of these international online money transfer scams, so that you can spot and avoid them.

1. Phishing

The victim is sent an unofficial email from a fraudster, claiming to be a bank or money transfer provider. The email includes a link which, when clicked, takes the victim to a phoney recreation of the company’s official website. The victim is then asked to log in with their account number or email and password. The information is then collected by the fraudster and used to steal from the victim. These emails often come with nasty attachments that install viruses or key loggers (which record everything you type into your computer) to help them gather the victim’s information.

Lesson: Be skeptical about emails and links that you receive online. Type addresses into your web browser instead to bypass information fraud. Most companies now warn their users against this kind of theft and make a point to never ask for confidential information via email. Scammers often make mistakes in these emails and fake websites – so spelling errors or unprofessional looking websites are a huge giveaway.

2. Relationship

This scam starts off happily enough – two people meet on the internet. Things are great – emails, phone calls, plans to meet up.

And then comes the partner’s sick mother who needs money for an operation or the request for a flight money loan. The requests keep coming – for as long as the victim keeps paying. Unfortunately there’s no fairy-tale ending, at least not for the victim.

Lesson: Be wary of online dating. Meet the person, and expect to know them for a reasonable period of time, before even considering responding to a request for money.

3. Lottery!

The victim receives a phone call telling them that they’ve won the lottery (or some other large sum of money), conditional to sending a small deposit back for “taxation and fees”. The victim sends the money but never receives any winnings or payment of any kind.

Lesson: “You’ve got to be in it to win it,” goes the surprisingly accurate saying, followed closely by “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!” You’re very unlikely to win an unspecified large sum of money – even when you do buy a lotto ticket, so be very cautious of anyone telling you that you have “winnings” out of the blue. Also, many countries don’t actually tax or charge fees for lotto winnings, (New Zealand, for example) so if you do win, you technically shouldn’t have to pay a cent!

4. Employment

“No experience needed” and “work from home and earn thousands of dollars a month” sounds like a great offer, right? Unfortunately, this is often a guise for fraudsters to lure a victim. The victim is given a fake cheque to pay for start-up expenses for the advertised position. The victim deposits the cheque and buys supplies – wiring the spare money back to the “employer”. The bank later rejects the cheque and the victim has to foot the bill.

Lesson: If you’re looking for employment, try to research the employer to the best of your ability – if it’s a company you’ve never heard of, be highly suspicious. Most employers won’t actually ask you for payment when you begin a job, so this can also be a tell-tale sign.

5. Advanced Loan Payment

A fraudster offers the victim a loan – with an initial start-up fee. The victim transfers the fee, but never receives the loan money. Scammers often change their business name frequently to avoid detection.

Lesson: Attempt to get a loan from a reputable provider – usually big local banks are the best place to start. Avoiding borrowing money from an online vendor and opt for a brick and mortar store instead, as they’re more likely to be a legitimate lending business.   

6. Mystery Shopper

The fraudster advertises “mystery shopper” positions online. They give the respondent a cheque to “evaluate” an online currency transfer website, such as Western Union or PayPal. The victim wires the money, but the cheque bounces a few days later, leaving the victim out of pocket.

Lesson: There’s a pattern here – cheques. Avoid accepting a cheque from anyone you don’t know. Otherwise, ensure that it clears before taking any further action.

7. Anti-Virus

The fraudster contacts the victim and tells them that their computer has a “dangerous virus”. They offer to remove this for a fee. The victim either transfers this fee, just to have the money kept by the scammer, or the fraudster directs the victim to “fix” the virus by installing malicious software onto their computer. This software records their information and can be used to steal from them.

Lesson: Strangers cannot detect viruses on your computer remotely. Install a good anti-virus software to combat any legitimate threats facing your computer.

8. Rental Property

A victim, who is looking for a place to stay, is offered to rent a property by the scammer. The victim is required to pay a deposit or a bond, which is transferred and never seen again.

Lesson: Meet any prospective landlord before making any financial commitments.

9. Overpayment

A buyer of an item sends the victim seller a cheque for a higher amount than the agreed sale price. The victim refunds the difference but the cheque doesn’t clear, leaving the victim out of pocket for the refund value.

Lesson: Again – be suspicious of accepting cheques from strangers until they’ve cleared.

10. The Nigerian Prince

A “prince” contacts the victim, telling them that they are in trouble and need money to retrieve their family fortune. They offer the victim a share of the fortune for a small transfer “in their time of need”. Unfortunately, the scammer keeps the deposit and never contacts the victim again.

Lesson: Avoid transferring money online to a stranger.

We are dedicated to the cause of online-fraud awareness and providing 100% safe and secure international money transfers that you can track online, every step of the way. Check out our calculator on the top right-hand side of the screen to find out how much you could be saving!