When dealing with romance scams, online shopping scams, or other types of scams, scammers have become clever when it comes to tricking us out of our funds. That is why many of them request that we use a wire transfer service to pay them. This is because if we wire transfer our money, there is no way to request our money back once we realize it’s a scam. Our money becomes untraceable once it is given to the scammer, making it nearly impossible to get our stolen funds back. This is why it is important to watch out for the different types of wire transfer scams.
Types of Wire Transfer Scams to Watch Out For
Almost any type of scam that you encounter could be considered a wire transfer scam. As long as it requires using a money transfer service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram, to wire money to a scammer, then it could be considered a wire transfer scam. Below, you will find some examples of a few popular wire transfer scams that have been going around.
Fake Check Scams
Someone sends you a fake check due to a contest you supposedly won, you supposedly agreeing to be a mystery shopper, or purchasing an item that you are selling. They then ask you to send back some of the money that you have received, claiming that they accidentally overpaid you and need their money back.
You comply and deposit the check then wire the portion the scammer asked for over to them. A few weeks later, your bank calls you and claims that the check you deposited was fake. You then become responsible for the amount that you withdrew from the bank and have to pay back all the money, including the money you gave the scammer.
Family Emergency Scams
You get a text or phone call from someone claiming to be your family member or friend. If they call you, they are most likely using voice cloning technology which is when a scammer uses technology to mimic your family member’s or friend’s voice and then talks with that voice on a phone call.
Because most people believe it’s actually their loved ones, they become scared and wonder what they can do to get them out of trouble. The scammer pretending to be the loved one requests that the victim wires them a lot of money to free them. Once the victim does, the scammer blocks them and the victim realizes it was all a scam.
Telemarketing Purchase Scams
While there are legit telemarketers out there, most of the robocalls you hear are scams. If someone is asking you to buy something over the phone via a wire transfer, then it is definitely a scam.
According to the Telemarketing Sales Rule, it is actually illegal for someone over the phone to ask you to pay for an item using a cash-to-cash transfer (wire transfer). Since the caller would be breaking the law if he asked for a wire transfer, then you can be reassured that this is a scam and hang up immediately.
Scammers will go on rental sites, and list existing listings from real estate sites with changed contact information. They usually catch their victims’ attention using rent that is too-good-to-be-true, so many victims call the scammers for more information. Once the victim is interested in the property, they ask how they can go about securing it.
The scammer instructs them to wire over a security deposit, first month’s rent, and an application fee over to them. The application that the victim fills out asks for personal information, which can allow for the scammer to commit identity fraud. Once the money is wired over to them and they have your personal information, they block all contact with you and you’re left without a property.
Scammers go onto dating apps and social media profiles, looking for perfect victims for their romance scam. Once they find someone who is single, they message them claiming that they are the most beautiful person they have ever seen. Once the victim responds, the scammer does everything they can to make the victim fall for them as fast as possible. They have a scammer’s playbook with all the flirty phrases a scammer is supposed to say to lure their victims in.
Once the victim has fallen in love with them, the romance scammer creates some fake emergency or job scare to where they need money to fix it. The scammer asks their victims to help them by wiring money, and the victim complies thinking the scammer loves them and will pay them back. The scammer keeps asking for more money until the victim becomes suspicious and realizes they won’t be getting their money back.
The scammer pretends to be a young cute girl, wanting to “have some fun” on a dating app. The guy victim gets lured in, and the scammer asks him to send some explicit pictures of himself. The victim complies, and in return, he receives some inappropriate pictures from the girl he is texting.
The girl then claims that she is 16-years-old and the victim blocks her, mortified that she lied about her age. A few days later, the scammer pretends to be the girl’s father and claims that he will call the police on you for sending explicit images to his minor daughter. You comply and wire him the funds, only for him to continue asking you for more money. Turns out, his threats are empty and he will continue to ask you for money until you drain your bank account.
How to Avoid Wire Transfer Scams
- Don’t give out your personal and financial information to people you haven’t met in person. If someone is asking for money or your personal information over the phone, email, or instant messaging, they are most likely trying to scam you.
- Ignore calls that you don’t recognize. If you receive a phone call and don’t know where it is coming from, it is better that you don’t answer it. It could be a robocall trying to scam you out of money. If you need to answer unknown calls, be wary of those trying to scam you out of money.
- Don’t click on links coming from phishing emails. If you receive a phishing email containing a link, do not click on it if you can help it. It may lead you to a fake website that will download malware onto your device and steal your information and funds. Instead, go onto the website directly to change your password or manage your online accounts.
- Video chat or meet someone in person before getting into a serious relationship. If you have suspicions about the person you are talking to, make sure to verify they are really who they say they are with a video chat or by meeting them in person. If they refuse to do either of these things then they are a scammer, no matter what excuse they try to give you.
- Don’t deposit random checks you receive in the mail. If someone sends you a paycheck out of the blue, then verify it is real from the bank before you deposit it. If the bank can’t verify it, then it is most likely a scam check.
- Call or text your family members to make sure they are OK. By contacting their actual phone number, you can recognize that the person you are trying to help is ok all along. This means that the person on the other end of the line is a scammer.
- Don’t send explicit photos of yourself or receive any explicit photos from random people on the Internet. Most of the time, the random people that agree to get explicit with you randomly on the internet either want money or to scam you in return.
- Don’t send money to rent a property without seeing it in person. Even with the pandemic, you can still visit official websites of apartment complexes and call them to view a property. If someone on Craigslist is using the pandemic as an excuse or is making up other excuses as to why you can’t see the property, chances are they are a scammer.
- Report any wire transfer scam immediately to the FTC. If you report any scam email addresses or phone numbers to them, that will help them catch the scammer and put an end to all scams.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You with Wire Transfer Scams!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with if you think you’ve been a victim of wire transfer scams.