Top 10 Scams of 2007

The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois has released its top 10 scam list for 2007. Even though this is a regional list, it fits nicely with what we’re seeing here at Fight Identity Theft:

1. Check Scams

Would-be victims receive a check in the mail, allegedly for winning a sweepstakes, lottery or promotion. The check supposedly covers taxes or other fees (see the text of the letter below). Here’s how the scam works:

  • You deposit the check in your bank.
  • You then pay the fees described in the letter via a money transfer.
  • Unfortunately there isn’t any prize money and your bank eventually will tell you that the check you deposited is a forgery.
  • You now owe the bank the money ($2,998.65 in the example below).
  • You try to track down the money you sent out via money transfer, which is just about impossible.
  • The scammers are now richer and you are poorer.

Here’s a sample of a check one of our readers received in the mail. The scammers will often place a reputable company on the forged check:

2. Advance Fee Lenders

These frequently will contact people by phone after they’ve filled out an online loan application or have found an advertisement in a local newspaper.

This is a similar scam to the check scam described above.

3. Online Employment Offers

Offers that look for “shipping” or “billing managers,” “payment processors” or anything with a financial sounding name very frequently turn out to be fraudulent listings that are, in actuality, looking for victims to commit money laundering.

Other bogus online employment offers request money for travel, work visas, etc. Some scammers don’t ask for money, but instead ask for your personal info (name, DOB, SSN, address, mothers maiden name) in order to steal your identity or sell your info to someone that will.

Be extremely careful when dealing with online employment. Don’t send money to anyone. Use a company’s main number and then ask for your contact within the company vs. just dialing direct to the number you’ve been given in order to verify your contact really works at the company you’re interested in.

4. Lottery/Sweepstakes Notification Letters

Epidemic in proportion, these are very much like the fake check scams.

5. Overpayment Scams

These usually are found in forms of online ads and typically in places such as Craigslist or other classified forums on the Internet.

Same kind of scam as #1 with a slight twist.

A check overpayment scam begins when a scam artist replies to the classified ad or auction posting and offers to purchase the item for sale with a check, then comes up with a reason for writing the check for more than the purchase price for the item. The scammer asks the consumer to wire back the difference after the check is deposited. Later, the scammer’s check bounces, leaving the consumer liable for the entire amount.

6. Mortgage foreclosure rescue scams

Scammers contact residents and offer them a desperate plan that is affordable and supposedly allows them to keep the home. Here’s how it works:

The scammers will offer to lower your monthly mortgage payment while also promising that in a short time you can own your home free and clear of any debt. The con artist claims to offer or arrange for a new loan but instead tricks the homeowner into selling the home to the con artist or a third party and agreeing to either lease the home back or purchase it back on a land contract.  The con artist or third party will pay off the existing mortgage or take out a loan. If the scammed homeowner lived in the home for a number of years, he or she likely built up and is surrendering significant equity. Equity is the market value of the home minus the value of all mortgages and other liens on the home. The con artist now owns the home and has stripped or taken the equity out of the scammed consumer’s home.

Consumerlaw.org has a great pdf which covers this fraud in detail – http://www.consumerlaw.org/news/ForeclosureReportFinal.pdf

7. Marketing/Investment Scams

People are solicited by mail or e-mail and told they can make thousands of dollars working from home by buying a special kit, book or tape collection.

8. Inheritance Scam

An e-mail or letter is sent to the victim from someone claiming to be related to them, or from somebody that claims to know that the victim’s distant relative is either very sick or has died and left inheritance money.

9. Phishing Scams

Generally, e-mails are sent from what looks like a legitimate bank or financial institution, asking for confirmation of account numbers and personal information.

– See some examples of a typical phishing email – Paypal phishing scam.

10. Nigerian Scam

E-mails or letters are sent from someone claiming to be an official or agent from a foreign country, informing the recipient he or she is seeking a foreign company or individual into whose account they can deposit funds left over from government funds, a business bank transaction or a confiscated family inheritance.

– See some examples of a typical Nigerian Email Scam.

Author: Dave Nielsen

I started using computers in 1978 on the Apple II and was first online (using my “high-speed” 1200 baud modem) in 1989. I’ve managed web sites for several Fortune 500 companies and for internet start-ups. Working for one of those start-ups is what brought me into the world of credit. I was part of the the executive team that ran QSpace, the first company to offer credit reports over the internet.

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49 Comments

  1. I got the same one today from Staff drive for Kreateeve Solutions…….Thank you guys for posting, it looked suspicious, I just printed the “Contract” and Googled the company name and it let me right here to this blog..

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for saving me from potentially making a huge mistake.

  2. I actually went as far as to receive a money gram for “Toray Textiles” and listed a bogus name. Just wondering what I could do to bust this guy!!!

  3. HERE IS ANOTHER SCAMMING EMAIL:

    From: Lady Rebecca Thatcher.No:36 Old Shrewberry Street,London England. Beloved,i am Lady Rebecca Thatcher., suffering from cancerous ailment..Iused to be married to Sir Jeremy Thatcher an Englishman who is dead andresting peacefully. My husband was into private practice all his lifebefore he passed. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum ofTwenty Million Pounds (20,000,000.00 Million Great Britain PoundsSterling)which were derived from his vast estates and investment incapital market with his bank here in UK. Presently, this money is stillwith the Bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that I have limited days tolive due to the cancerous problems I am suffering from. Though what bothers me most is the stroke that I have in addition to thecancer. With this hard reality that has befallen me, I have decided todonate this fund to you and want you to use this gift which comes from myhusbands effort to fund the upkeep of widows, widowers, orphans,destitute, the down-trodden, physically challenged children, barren-womenand persons who prove to be genuinely handicapped financially.I took thisdecision because I do not have any child that will inherit this money. My happiness is that I lived a life worthy of emulation. Please assureme that you will act just as I have stated herein. Hope to hear from yousoon.You can contact me through my personal email addressat:thatcher_ladyreb@yahoo.co.uk Stay Blessed. Sincerely yours, Lady Rebecca Thatcher.

  4. THERE APPEARS TO BE ANOTHER ONE…PLANERA PROJECT SOLUTIONS associated with the same bunch of scammers…they didn’t bother to remove “Kreateeve Solutions Inc”; wanted me to add the “Planera Projects Solutions, Inc.” name in its place. They appear to be working with/through “TheCareerPlanet.com”. I’ve cut out the middle of the contract as it is available on an ealier submission.

    INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT This Independent Contractor Agreement is made effective for all purposes and in all respects by and between Kreateeve Solutions Inc. (hereinafter known as “Principal”) and (hereinafter known as “Contractor”) who shall collectively be known herein as “the Parties”. RECITALS WHEREAS, Principal desires to engage Contractor, on an independent…………………….
    IN WITNESS WHEREOF and acknowledging acceptance and agreement of the foregoing, Principal and Contractor affixes their signatures hereto. PRINCIPAL INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR
    PlaneraProgectSolutions Inc. Name : _____________________________
    By: John Swanchen Address: ___________________________
    Title: President ___________________________________
    Address: Finlandsgatan 16, SE-164 74 Kista,Sweden Phone #: ___________________________
    Phone: +46-031 799 59 48 Date: ______________________________

  5. I receive at least 2 sorts of scam emails a day.
    What I like to do is reply to their message by typing
    “Your Under Investigation” in the subject line;
    then sending them a similar scam email by
    copying and pasting the same type of scam someone else
    had sent me.
    (Hoping it may scare them I know it will not make them
    quit but possibly slow them down by having to set up
    new addresses and such.)

  6. Out looking for a job??– this is group (Stanford-Dale Recruiters)after your info to sell to 3rd parties. If you go to their site and to try to sign up or apply for a job,they take your info but let you any further to “veiw” their job bank!! Then you start getting all the crap offers! Hopefully, they give it some really bad dudes.

    “From: JOBS Stanford-Dale
    Subject: I saw your resume… please complete application. SD
    Response to your resume posting.
    We have received your name and email from your resume posting service while reviewing your information. We may have some job opportunities that will interest you.
    Please go to: Stanford-Dale.com, Job page.
    If your are interested in our open positions you can apply on-line.
    To view jobs, click this link. Available Jobs.”

    APPEARS TO BE TOTALLY BOGUS FROM A JOBS PERSPECTIVE

    ——————————————————————————–

  7. i received some e mail from swedish company about job ofer. Something fishy is going on here and i wont go on with it. it is kind sad that i cant even post resume online without thinking who might misuse it. i gues only way is old fashion way, go out look for hiring signs and newspapers.

  8. I THINK SOMEONE IS TRYING TO SCAM A COMPANY PLANERA PROJECT LOCATED IN SWEDEN , I DID SOM RESEARCH , THEY ARE TRYING TO SCAM ME, SAID THAT GOT MY INFO FROM CAREEER BUILDER.

  9. OH MY GOD G2 I RECEVED THAT SAME CONTRACT. THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP

  10. I got a brochure today on what to do. Very useful.

  11. From: Elsa.Norberg@thecareerplanet.com

    Subject: [SUSPECTED SPAM]Re[2]: Job offer
    Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2008 17:30 EST
    Dear Kevin,

    I am so sorry for my long reply.

    Thank you for your answer, I’m glad that our offer is interesting for

    you.

    I want to give you more information about this job.

    Our Swedish partner, Planera Project design studio, looking for

    candidate for the position of Assistant Director. And we should to

    find the candidate for this position use their requirements.

    Planera Project provides their customers with wide variety of design

    services for many years and has a great experience in this sphere.

    Recently, the management of the company has decided to develop US

    market, and for this purpose they need an associated business unit in

    US. This decision is also motivated by having difficulties for

    European companies with the ability to sell products and services for

    US customers as well as intention to avoid heavy domestic taxes (as

    you could know, Swedish taxation is probably one the heaviest in the

    Europe). So they are going now to file an LLC in US. They will apply

    to the company specializing in company formation in US. After the LLC

    is formed, they will need a Assistant Director, who is to represent

    this associated company in US. Maybe it sounds too complicated, but

    actually the duties are quite easy.

    Planera Project is planning to create a Web-store for US company to

    sell their original products online. They are provide this products

    with online marketing, hosting, web development, print graphics or

    support. To accept payments online, it will be necessary to have a

    merchant account. Unfortunately it is impossible for European company,

    which has a merchant account in European bank, to accept payments

    online from US customers (basically, it is possible, but with a lot of

    limitations that make it impossible). So the Assistant Director, as a

    company representative, will need to arrange a merchant account in US.

    Planera Project will provide him with all necessary information and

    instructions. It is expected that the US business unit Planera Project

    is applying for will have a business bank account, but to the moment,

    they are not sure yet, so maybe Assistant Director will also need to

    arrange a business bank account for the associated company.

    So, the primary Assistant Director’s duties are:

    a. You should to register LLC. Planera Project will pay for all

    process and you will receive $500 as soon as your LLC will be create.

    Planera Project will register LLC for used on-line services.

    b. Business bank account and Merchant account maintaining and

    monitoring;

    c. Handling business correspondence and transmitting it to Planera

    Project by fax or by mail (all expenses are reimbursed).

    d. Being in touch with Planera Project’s representative by e-mail and

    folowwing his/her instructions.

    It will take 1-2 hours a day max to handle all of these duties.

    The Assistant Director will get a commission, 5% on net profit of the

    associated company’s Web-store. The lowest guaranteed commission is

    $10000/year.

    Please let me know about your decision about this applying to this

    position and feel free to ask any questions you have.

    Sincerely,

    Elsa Norberg

    TheCareerPlanet Inc.

  12. We have been scamed by Phillipe Gonzalas he had notified my wife as the next of kin to Stanilus Holtmeier. Phillipe told us that he was the personal lawer and close friend befor he had died.Phillipe told us that befor he past he had deposited 16.8 million into a safe deposit company (Germinis Safe keepings) they kept asking for money for filing fee for the advicate we told him that we didnt have the whole amount he sed he would pay the remainder to the high courts.Once he had the proper papers he presented the papers to the vault co. The vault co called us to interview my wife to prove that she was a realitive so that we would pass theinterview Phillipe provited us with informotion about Mr. Holtmeier then they told us that we needed to pay the taxes on the vault so the vault could be released to my wife. I thank god that we only lost 250.00 befor we caught on to there scam….

  13. I just wanted to add one more these scammers
    Please dont believe these things
    I dont know who would belive them.

    Dear Kerim,

    Thank you for your answer, I’m glad that our offer is interesting for you.

    I want to give you more information about this job.

    Our Swedish partner, Planera Project design studio, looking for candidate for the position of Assistant Director. And we should to find the candidate for this position use their requirements.

    Planera Project provides their customers with wide variety of design services for many years and has a great experience in this sphere.
    Recently, the management of the company has decided to develop US market, and for this purpose they need an associated business unit in US. This decision is also motivated by having difficulties for European companies with the ability to sell products and services for US customers as well as intention to avoid heavy domestic taxes (as you could know, Swedish taxation is probably one the heaviest in the Europe). So they are going now to file an LLC in US. They will apply to the company specializing in company formation in US. After the LLC is formed, they will need a Assistant Director, who is to represent this associated company in US. Maybe it sounds too complicated, but actually the duties are quite easy.

    Planera Project is planning to create a Web-store for US company to sell their original products online. They are provide this products with online marketing, hosting, web development, print graphics or support. To accept payments online, it will be necessary to have a merchant account. Unfortunately it is impossible for European company, which has a merchant account in European bank, to accept payments online from US customers (basically, it is possible, but with a lot of limitations that make it impossible). So the Assistant Director, as a company representative, will need to arrange a merchant account in US.
    Planera Project will provide him with all necessary information and instructions. It is expected that the US business unit Planera Project is applying for will have a business bank account, but to the moment, they are not sure yet, so maybe Assistant Director will also need to arrange a business bank account for the associated company.

    So, the primary Assistant Director’s duties are:
    a. You should to register LLC. Planera Project will pay for all process.
    Planera Project will register LLC for used on-line services.
    b. Business bank account and Merchant account maintaining and monitoring; c. Handling business correspondence and transmitting it to Planera Project by fax or by mail (all expenses are reimbursed).
    d. Being in touch with Planera Project’s representative by e-mail and folowwing his/her instructions.

    It will take 1-2 hours a day max to handle all of these duties.

    The Assistant Director will get a commission, 5% on net profit of the associated company’s Web-store.

    Please let me know about your decision about this applying to this position and feel free to ask any questions you have.

    Sincerely,
    Hanna Berit

    TheCareerPlanet Inc., thecareerplanet.com

  14. I don’t know why you think Planera Progect is scam – I work with them already 14 months and I have never had any problems with them. Anybody can prove me that it’s scam?

  15. Planera Project is deffenitley a scam. They are a big waste of your time trying to have you open bank accounts.
    If they our such a good company and reliable don’you think they should know how to use spell check. LOL
    SCAMMERS!!!!!!!!

  16. How can you prove you have been working for them for the last 14 months?

  17. I’m know, there are a lot of different scammers in internet and sometimes it’s very hard to distinguish the truth from lie. But how can you discredit company if you didn’t work with them? First mind is not always right!

    Rosa, what proof you want? I was in their main office in Sweden in April, 2007 and had a personal meeting with John Swanchen (president of Planera Project). So, now I’m sure in my work.

    Jude, they are people like you and me and they can make mistakes because they are people! And Jude, it seems you don’t know how to use spell check too, may be you are a scammer too?

  18. Jude, we all are people and could make a mistakes. So you did a mistake in one word in your post, may be you are scammer too? Or you are blind and don’t see red lines under words with mistakes?

    Rosa, I was in Planera Project main office in Sweden and had a meeting with John Swanchen (president of Planera Project Inc.) last year. Now I’m absolutely sure in this company and earn not bad money with them.

    Now there are a lot of scammers in internet and it’s very hard to distinguish the truth from lie. But if you didn’t try to work with someone, don’t call him scammer, and don’t discredit company’s name, because you don’t have any proofs!

  19. What kind of work are you doing for them?? How come they dont offer a telephone number to communicate with them?

  20. what kind of work are you doing for them???? Do you have a telephone number?

  21. Ellis
    In what state are you located???

  22. Ellis, I sell Planera Project goods in internet. I think you didn’t asked them to give you phone number to communication. But they don’t communicate with candidates by phone, because there are many people who want to work with them and speak by phone to know more about the job.

    Rosa, I sell Planera Project’s goods. Yes, I have phone. I live in Alaska.

  23. Ella, i keep asking you to post your website. I guess it is not real like your are saying. Why do you keep erasing the question?

  24. I probably shouldn’t tip these clowns off, but notice how Ellis Rowe doesn’t use prepositions in his sentences? He/She should learn (the) English language better (if) you want to run (a) scam. This is a glaring red flag in the fraud industry. I worked for a large bank, I’ll spare the details, but this is something we were taught. A perfect example was the Nigerian government funds scam. Prepositions are hard to define and do not translate in certain languages, hence the choppy, incoherent speech. Pretty pathetic actually.

  25. P.S. Has anyone gone to planera’s website? They have a section in which you can send e-mail comments to the company. However, the submit button is not even a link, it’s simply HTML code that does nothing. You can even erase the word submit. I wish people would get an honest job or go to jail.

  26. Can anyone tell me about planera project and the career planet because i’m receiving emails from them too. Ellis Rowe, can you help with more info and maybe a phone number ? thx

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