Don’t be tricked by promises you’ll get rich quick
by Attorney General Roy Cooper
Easy money can be hard to resist, especially when times are tough and families are struggling to make ends meet. You may be tempted when offers to help you get rich quickly and easily turn up in your mail box, your email account, on websites, or over the phone. Unfortunately, the only people getting rich off of these offers are the scammers.
While new get-rich-quick schemes continue to pop up, some of the most common ones are described below:
Nigerian Letter Scams
Nigerian letter scams are strangely worded letters or emails sent from overseas. The writer, who often claims to be a former government or bank official, asks for your help getting millions of dollars out of his or her country. All you have to do is provide your bank account number so the funds can be transferred and you’ll get a cut of the money.
But if you share your bank account information, the scammers will take your money instead of giving you any. These schemes started in Nigeria but now come from other countries, too. They often include current events like wars or natural disasters to make the situation sound real.
Work-at-home scams advertise on flyers, signs and television, in newspapers and magazines, and over the Internet. They sound like the perfect job: earn thousands of dollars in your spare time, from home. The company asks for an up-front fee before you can start working, such as a registration fee, a deposit on materials, or payment for instructional books or computer disks. Once you pay the fee, you’re very unlikely to make much money.
Secret shopper ads are also very popular work-at-home scams. These are even more tempting because you are mailed a check and asked to go shopping to evaluate a store’s performance. Unfortunately, after you deposit the check and make your purchases, the check will be returned and you’ll be left footing the bill.
The truth is that work-at-home schemes simply are too good to be true. If it were that easy to get rich this way, then everyone would quit their jobs and work from home.
Wouldn’t you like to get a government grant worth thousands of dollars to spend however you’d like? There are many companies that claim to know how to help you win such a grant. All you have to do to win your grant is pay the company a fee.
In reality, legitimate grants are competitive, and there are very few grants available for individuals. Once you pay a fee for help winning a grant, you’ll likely get little more than a list of government agencies or websites to visit. A variation of this scheme starts with a call or letter telling you that you’ve already won a grant. You’re asked to pay a fee or provide your bank account information before you can get the funds.
To avoid falling for these scams:
- Beware of anyone promising free or easy money in exchange for an upfront fee.
- Be skeptical about earnings claims that sound too good to be true.
- Never pay for information about a work-at-home offer, or for any kind of start-up kit, instructional booklet or list of clients or grant opportunities.
- Don’t answer suspicious emails. Responding will confirm that your email address works and you may get other fraudulent emails. Instead, report suspicious emails to your Internet Service Provider and forward the email to email@example.com.
- Don’t be fooled by telephone calls or official-looking letters that tell you that you’ve unexpectedly won grant or other money you didn’t apply for.
- Never agree to give out personal information such as Social Security or bank account numbers to anyone you don’t know who calls or emails you.
- If you respond to one scam, be prepared to get flooded with other suspect offers. Report possible scams to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or online.