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Scammers Use Novel Ways to Pull Out Money

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that consumers have handed more than $1.1 Billion to scammers in 2006, shooting up from nearly $570 Million in 2004. FTC's database, Consumer Sentinel, received over 670,000 complaints in 2006 of which 430,000 were related to fraud.

E-mail service providers are attempting to check the rapid popularity of social networking portals like Facebook Inc., which have begun to trespass into their turf. Obviously, scammers have been around forever and they have kept getting more dexterous.

Alliance for Consumer Fraud Awareness, a subsidiary of the United States Postal Service (USPS), points out that fraudulent cheque scams are done online, not in person. Giving an example of online fraud, USPS said that "Love schemes" make fools of lonely hearts strolling net-dating sites. The scammer, posing as a young and attractive person, promises to shift to the US for the lovelorn chump. He is asked to wire money to the scammer after receiving a bogus cheque stating travel expenses. Of course, the dream partner never turns up.

It is disheartening to note that fraudulent cheque scams, mostly carried out online, have become the third largest form of Internet fraud, following online-auction fraud and merchandise fraud (wherein goods are not delivered), as per the National Consumers League. Scammed Americans, in 2006, lost $3,500 per person on an average.

Moreover, top-shot Web e-mail services like Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc., and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL are putting in features to enhance sociable functions like tracking friends and posting profile pages with personal data for public viewing making things easy for online scammers.

Tom Donlea, Executive Director with Merchant Risk Council, a consumer watchdog, expressed that with three-fourths of American homes going online, gullibility by the consumer can easily be exploited, as reported by in globeinvestor on October 24, 2007.

Google Inc., which runs e-mail service Gmail and social networking site Orkut, is working on the means to tap the social networking wave, saying that people are familiar with the issue of personal data theft through Internet. Google's efforts towards plugging online fraud involve examining the strength of users' connections with each other by following the frequency of their correspondence over e-mail and chat.

Related article: Scammers Exploit Tax System Resulting in ID Theft

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