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Scammers Do Their Homework

Scammers are adept at telling us what we want to hear. For instance, the scammer may say that his program is a legitimate business proposition in which you actually are sold some inexpensive item as part of the program. This factor, he says, is what differentiates his program from an illegal chain letter. Some purveyors of these particular scams even indicate in their written materials that the U.S. Postal Service approves their particular program. The truth is that the U.S. Postal Service never endorses or approves any particular business program.

Perhaps you respond to an advertisement to be a personal shopper or to do market research. You even receive a "certified check" to pay you for your efforts. Certainly, that check must be legitimate! However, the check is written for more than the amount you’re owed, so you’re required to send your own check back to the company to "refund the difference." The only problem is that the certified check that the scammer sends you is phony. Unfortunately, the check that you send is not.

Everyone loves to be a winner, and scammers know that fact as well as anyone. Lottery scams come in many variations. Some require you to send "processing fees" while you wait for the prize check that never comes. Other phony lotteries require you to pay to the company sponsoring the lottery the income taxes that you will owe on your prize. The problem is that legitimate lotteries never ask you for tax money. Either you pay the income taxes due on your winnings directly to the IRS, or the taxes are deducted from the prize before you receive it, in which case you receive a Form 1099 from the sponsor of the lottery informing you of the amount already deducted from your prize for taxes.

Whatever involvement you have with the federal government, from Social Security to Medicare to veterans benefits to the IRS, it’s just more fodder for scammers. They take advantage of the confusion many people suffer with the rules of these programs, and twist those rules to lure you into sending money to scammers posing as government representatives.

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