Online Fraud

Online fraud is in no way limited to e-mail. Pop-up ads, phony websites and other online scams can be designed to entice consumers to reveal personal or financial information that can lead to identity theft and other serious crimes.

If an offer looks too good to be true, it most likely is. For example, the Nigerian Scam, also known as the 419 or Advance Fee Scam, starts with an e-mail from someone who pretends to be a wealthy foreigner who needs help moving millions of dollars from his country and promises a hefty percentage of the fortune for assistance in getting it moved. The con artist offers to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account in exchange for a small fee. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive "official looking" documents. Typically, you're then asked to provide your bank account numbers, as well as some money to cover transaction and transfer costs and attorney's fees.

If you receive an offer via e-mail from someone claiming to need your help getting money out of any country, forward it to the FTC. If you're tempted to respond to an offer, the FTC suggests you stop and ask yourself two important questions: Why would a perfect stranger pick you - also a perfect stranger - to share a fortune with, and why would you share any of your personal information, including your bank account numbers, with someone you don't know?