We’re often contacted by people who have been affected by one scam or another. As hard as it is, sometimes we can’t do much for them. While private investigators can help protect you against a scam – helping you after the fact is a different story.
If the scam happened from within the United States, we may be able to track down a possible offender. If it happened from outside the United States, the chances of tracking down the scammer are relatively low.
You may think that only the elderly are affected by scammers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Scams can happen to anyone regardless of their age, sex, race, or gender. In 2019, more than three million people reported fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The most common type of scam – imposter scams – involve individuals pretending to be someone of trust to get money or personal information from a victim. This includes personal information like your Social Security number or access to your finances. It doesn’t take much to convince someone to give you information.
We just went through Tax (Fraud) Season. Some of the top scams in the United States come from people who pretend to be from the government, a well-known business, or a romantic interest in need of help.
A few of the more common ones are:
- IRS Scams: The most common type of scam comes from people pretending to be from the government. They may call you and claim that you have an arrest warrant unless you make a payment over the phone, send them gift cards, or make a bitcoin payment to their wallet. Sometimes, these scammers send a notice through email, mail, or phone calls in an attempt to gain access to your tax or banking information to steal your identity and money.
- Social Security Scams: Individuals pose as benefits investigators claiming a problem with your Social Security account. At times, they will tell you your number has been suspended and give a false number to call in order to “resolve” the issue.
- Telephone Scams: Scammers try to steal money and personal information through phone calls, text messages or robocalls. They can convince you that you are getting free products or opportunities to invest your money or even get more.
- Charity Scams: Charity scammers take advantage of disasters and tragedies by pretending to be legitimate. Imposters create fake organizations mimicking real ones to entice the generosity of those affected emotionally.
- Romance Scams: These types of scams target victims into sending them money with promises of love. They’ll request money for plane tickets, emergencies, trips, etc. It can be someone who lives near you or someone posing as a doctor or military officer stationed far away. Be aware that people can create fake profiles on dating and social media sites in an attempt to find a match and convince you to help financially.
- Investment Scams: These scammers ask you to invest money to earn higher returns without financial risk. Companies then request you to bring more people in to do the same. They often need a constant flow of new people investing in order to make money. Ponzi and pyramid schemes are great examples of investment scams.
- Bitcoin Scams: The list of bitcoin scams is too long to fully write out on this article, but it typically has an element where you’re asked to buy bitcoin and send the money to a wallet. Typically, they’ll claim that your computer was hacked and they have compromising pictures. They’ll claim that if you don’t send them the money, they’ll send the images to your family – this is rarely true.
While not all scams are created equal, they all share one commonality with one another – they target people with plausible scenarios: Promise of Love, Financial Growth, or fear of Criminal Charges, and Injury.
Most Americans have been targeted or even lost money or personal information as a result of scams. The old adage “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” is going to be your best friend at identifying a possible scam. If you suspect that you may be in the process of getting scammed, call our investigators. We can help you determine whether or not you may be in danger.