The number of ways criminals can steal your money is almost unlimited. These enterprising individuals will continue to devise new ways to deceive victims and steal their hard-earned cash. Basic knowledge about the types of fraud and scams used by unscrupulous individuals can help prevent you from becoming a victim yourself.

ADVANCE FEE FRAUD –  Is a confidence trick in which the intended target is persuaded to advance a generally a small amount of money with the promise of receiving a large return  on that money in the future. The “Nigerian Letter” scam and “Spanish Prisoner” scam are notorious versions of  advance fee fraud. 

ANTITRUST VIOLATIONS – Some antitrust crimes include monopolizing, restraining trade, and fixing prices. 

BANKRUPTCY FRAUD – The intentional hiding of assets or the practice of deceiving creditors. 

BRIBERY – A corrupt activity in which a person offers or receives goods, money, services, etc. to sway a person’s opinion, action, or decision. 

CELLULAR PHONE FRAUD – Fraud associated with a cellular phone, including using a stolen phone and giving fraudulent information to receive phone service. 

COMPUTER FRAUD – Fraud which takes place on a computer or internet, including computer hacking, sending computer viruses, harassing, copyright violations, and the unauthorized use of a computer. 

CONFIDENCE TRICK OR CONFIDENCE GAME – Confidence tricks are very simple scams, cons, swindles or schemes designed to gain the confidence of a person or people for the personal gain of the perpetrator.  Persons of any level of intelligence are vulnerable to this form of deception by experienced con artists. This type of fraud exploits human nature, weaknesses and virtues of all kinds including greed, dishonesty, honesty and compassion. 

COUNTERFEITING – The unauthorized copying or imitating of an item which is later passed on as an original. 

CREATIVE ACCOUNTING – Creative accounting refers to accounting practices that may or may not comply with standard accounting practices but definitely deviates from the intent and spirit of those standards. Creative accounting is characterized by excessive complication and unique ways of characterizing income, assets, or liabilities.  

CREDIT CARD FRAUD – The unauthorized and illegal use of a credit card to purchase property. 

CRIME – A crime is an act that violates a political, religious, or moral command considered important in protecting the interests of the State or the welfare of its citizens or subjects.

 ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE – The theft of economic information, also know as “trade secret,” from an industry, company, or individual. 

EMBEZZLMENT – A situation where a person illegally uses money belonging to another individual or group for their own benefit. 

ENIVRONMENTAL LAW VIOLATIONS – Any of various environmental crimes that violate Federal environmental laws, including releasing toxic substances, dumping toxins, and polluting. 

EXTORTION – Using violence, fear tactics, or false pretenses to force a person to give up property. 

FALSE DOCUMENTS – A false document is a form or series of forms that appears to be real, true and attempt to create for the audience a sense of authenticity that dispels doubt and fools the audience into thinking that what is being presented is actually fact.

FINANCIAL FRAUD – Embezzlement or fraud that takes place in or against a financial institution that is regulated by the United States Government. Some examples of financial fraud are counterfeiting money, mortgage fraud, and commercial loan fraud.

FORGERY – Altering or using false writing with the intent to commit fraud.Forgery – Is the criminal falsification, illegal production, making or altering an instrument with intent to defraud. 

FRAUD – Intentionally misleading or deceiving another individual or group to attain something for one’s own benefit. A deception deliberately practiced in order to secure unfair or unlawful gain. 

GOVERNMENT FRAUD – Fraud that is committed against the government, which may involve education programs, corporations, federally funded programs, public housing, and agricultural programs. 

HEALTHCARE FRAUD – This type of fraud includes unnecessary and fraudulent billing and kickbacks. 

IDENTITY THEFT – Identity theft is a crime where an individual or organization obtains personal information that allows them to assume someone else’s identity in order to profit by fraudulent means. These criminals pretend to be you in order to sign up for goods and services in your name or they may simply use the information they have to access your already existing bank and/or credit card accounts. 

INSIDER TRADING – The trading of confidential information from people with privileged knowledge for one’s own personal gain. This form of fraud is used to avoid losing money in the stock market.

INSURANCE FRAUD – Insurance-related fraud committed by insurance applicants, third-party claimants, policy holders, and professionals. 

KICKBACKS – The return of a sum of money from a seller to a buyer due to an illegal private agreement. 

LARCENY – The taking and carrying (stealing) away of a person’s property by trespass with the intent to deprive the owner. 

LONG FIRM OR FALSE COMPANY – Is a company set up for fraudulent purposes. At first the company poses as and may even run as a legitimate business. Gradually extending the amount of cash advances from customers, at the same time they increase the amount of credit from suppliers. When the company has a large enough pot, the proprietors of the business vanish – with their customers’ money and the suppliers goods. 

MAIL FRAUD – Fraud involving United States mail, which is a felony and punishable by a fine and imprisonment. 

MONEY LAUNDERING – A process that makes money with an illegal origin appear legal so that it may be used. 

PERJURY – Knowingly making a false statement under oath in a court of law. 

PHISHING – is an attempt by criminals to acquire personal information, such as usernames, passwords, account numbers, social security numbers and credit card details, by impersonating representatives of a trustworthy entity communicating with clients. The perpetrators collect the personal information to use for fraudulent activities.  

PONZI SCHEME – A ponzi scheme is a defined as an investment opportunity that promises to pay abnormally high returns to investors. These returns are actually paid with money invested by subsequent investors, rather than from net revenues generated by any real business operations. Eventually the scheme collapses because there is never any real revenue generated.  

PUBLIC CORRUPTION – A breach of trust or abuse of power by local, state, or Federal officials. 

PUMP-AND-DUMP SCHEME – Pump and dump refers to an illegal scheme used by criminals for making money by manipulating stock prices; the perpetrator of the scheme persuades other people to buy a particular stock with the intention of driving the stock price up. The schemer then sells the stock himself as soon as the price of the stock rises. 

RACKETEERING – The act of operating an illegal business for personal profit. 

SECURITIES FRAUD – Also known as investment fraud; this is a practice where investors are deceived and manipulated, resulting in theft.

SHILL – The perpetrator of confidence tricks know as the confidence trickster, con man, swindler, scam artist or con artist often works with one or more accomplices called shills. A shill helps manipulate the victim or target of the confidence trick into accepting and /or believing the story, plan or offer. The accomplices may often pretend to be random strangers who have successfully benefited from performing the task, executing the plan or accepting the offer. 

TAX EVASION – A type of fraud where a person does not file a tax return, or files a false tax. 

TELEMARKETING FRAUD – A method where a person uses a telephone as the main means of communication to defraud a victim. 

SPANISH PRISONER SCAM – is a confidence trick dating back to the early 1900s. The scam claims that a wealthy person has been imprisoned under false identity and needs your help to get out. Confidentiality and trust are the only ways to help get him out.

Author: Jim Merrick