International Money Transfer Scams: How To Avoid
The money transfer scams are in full swing these days. In 2021, consumers lost approximately $770 million to fraud, just for fraud initiated on social media, such as investments, romance, and online shopping. Meanwhile, close to 60 million Americans have fallen prey to phone scams, with each person losing around US$502 dollars to scammers.
Furthermore, common internet and money transfer scams, such as tech support fraud and romance scams, have caused over 100,000 older Americans to lose close to $1 billion in 2020. On average, these elderly victims lost more than $9,000, with almost 2,000 older victims reportedly losing more than $100,000.
These figures, albeit dire, paint an accurate picture of scams and the damage they do. One way to protect yourself against scams like money transfer fraud is to know more about them. Read on to learn about 9 common money transfer scams and what you can do to protect yourself and, of course, your loved ones against such threats.
1. Email Scams
Email scams are an offshoot of phishing. With email scams, cybercriminals use email to get a victim’s personal information, including passwords and bank account details. Often, these emails are cleverly disguised, making them seem like they’re coming from legitimate sources. For example, a PayPal scam email will look like it came from PayPal. However, clicking the URL in the email will redirect you to a fake website that can be used to steal your data.
2. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams trick victims into giving out their personal information. Common phishing methods include email, social media, calls, and SMS. The scammer asks the victim to confirm or provide their personal data, fill out a form in exchange for a reward, or send an alert informing them about suspicious activities on their account.
Often, scammers will use messages and elements like branding assets to make them seem real.
3. Fake Lottery and Sweepstakes
Victims are informed that they’ve won a prize. The scammer will then ask the victim to wire money to cover the costs associated with the reward (taxes, customs, and other fees). This is one of the most common international money transfer scams, so beware.
Scammers now claim to be even lottery winners giving away part of their earnings.
4. Online Dating Scams
In romance scams, cybercriminals use fake profiles on dating sites and apps. They will either steal a victim’s identity or cook up a compelling story, such as a family emergency, and then ask the victim for money.
They approach the marks on platforms like Google Hangouts, Facebook, Instagram and more.
5. Online Shopping Scams
Scammers use fake websites that resemble legitimate online shopping websites. The victim will then place an order and pay via wire transfer or a mobile payment app. The thing is, the victim will never receive the items they’ve already paid for.
You can check if a website if fraudulent or not by using our Scam Detector’s website validator:
6. Real Estate Scams
Cybercriminals will pretend to be real estate professionals or real estate representatives. They may send the victim an email or call them, telling them to wire money to avoid losing their property.
Another common real estate scam involves fake apartment ads. Victims will be enticed by great prices. The scammer will then contact the victim, asking them to pay for the application, security deposit, or other fees, usually via wire transfer, for a non-existent space. Here is a list of real estate scams.
7. Family Emergency Scams
Victims will receive a message or call from someone pretending to be a relative or a friend who is stranded or in desperate need of money. Crooks will hack people’s social media profiles and start contacting the acquaintances listed on their lists as family members.
If you receive a shocking text OR a tempting offer on your social media from one of your family members, call them rather texting back.
8. Charity Scams
Scammers will pretend to be a charitable organization to ask for money. If you receive a message or phone call asking for money from a charitable organization, make sure that you check if such an organization exists to avoid getting scammed.
9. Tech Support Fraud
In tech support scams, cybercriminals will contact their victims, claiming they can fix the victim’s computer issues, such as viruses if the victim wires money. Another common tech support scam involves scammers offering their victims a “refund” for a product or service that the victim didn’t even make in the first place.
You probably know the classic Microsoft Tech Support scam, right?
How to Protect Yourself From Money Transfer Scams
a. Know the Warning Signs. Perhaps the best way to protect yourself from money transfer scams is by looking out for red flags, such as:
- Grammatical errors or typos in communications;
- Unrecognized links;
- A sense of urgency, asking you to wire money immediately;
- Lack of identity verification.
b. Use reliable money transfer services, such as Boss Revolution, when sending money to family or friends overseas. These reputable providers offer robust protection to ensure your money is safe and reaches its intended recipients.
c. Report scams to the FTC. If you spot a fraud, such as a Western Union money transfer scam or a Venmo one where they send you money “by mistake” and then ask you to send the money back to them, don’t engage. Report the incident immediately to concerned agencies and the FTC. If you’ve been scammed, make sure to follow these tips from the FTC. See below.
How To Report Money Transfer Scams
Let your family and friends know about this guide on how to avoid money transfer scams by sharing this article on social media. You can also officially report money transfer scammers and any suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using this link:
Protect Yourself More
If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodic emails – we promise not to spam.
Meanwhile, educate yourself with some other money transfer fraud-related articles right under this paragraph, so that you know how to stay safe online. Last but not least, use the comments section below to expose other scammers.
How Money Transfer Services Are Regulated
Verify a website below
Are you just about to make a purchase online? See if the website is legit with our validator: