Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The U.S. Consular Affairs Bureau receives a ton of daily calls regarding internet scams.  Not only the U.S. but also Australia and Canada seem to be major targets for online criminals, who usually cover their true intentions behind a false veil of kindness and success. From employment offers to Hollywood type romance, fraudsters always promise some gain in return –after gaining some dollars out of your pocket, or even ruining you financially, of course. And you can be next as there is no age or income group immune to internet criminals and their fraud tactics.  Increasingly, consumers and businesses are turning to international background screening to be safe.

Advance- free fraud, business fraud, investment scams and romance scams target those eager to profit or who have wishful thinking in a business deal or personal romance.   Victims all too often  believe there’s something of great personal or business value to be had, e.g. endless love and happiness, financial independence, business expansion and other promises and potential.

Scams evolve constantly and the list is endless. But some of the most popular frauds to watch out for are romance scams, investments, international financial scams, gold scam and precious metals, China stock market scams, and identity theft.  Though there are several variations like mobile extortion, phishing and even calls claiming a loved one has been abducted, the common factor is always the request for money.  In Latin America, criminals take on more aggressive tactics, and often call their potential victims claiming that a family member has been kidnapped, and if they want to see their loved one again, they had better deposit money in a bank account.  Surprisingly, the person who is supposedly abducted is at work or school, a situation all too common in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.  Risk from scams is at its highest level in international relationships.  

What to do to avoid these atrocities? International private investigators suggest the following guidelines to prevent being a victim:  1) Never reveal your personal data to someone you’ve never met, 2) Never send money to any person or entity overseas who has not been verified, 3) Get a professional due diligence service to verify any potential business partner, contact or entity that is in a foreign country, and lastly 4) If something does not feel right, or if something seems too good to be true, listen to your instincts, and contact a professional private investigator.

Online scams can be reported to authorities like the FBI sponsored website, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or embassies around the world, but usually these cases receive little attention, if any.  The volume is simply too high, and law enforcement lacks the resources to track these criminals down, who often hide behind proxy servers and random internet cafes.

The internet is here to stay, and its value is great.   People around the world enjoy the value added by networking, socializing and even doing business online.  For every case of fraud, there are 9 cases of success.  To manage the risk, and to make sure you don’t fall into that 10% category, more businesses and individuals are using international background checks to be safer online.

Best of luck,

A. Hathaway
© 2011 A. Hathaway

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