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Fraud Action


Students will review practical tips for protecting themselves against fraud. They will understand there are a number of local, state, and federal agencies which investigate fraud, as well as the importance of reporting fraud.


Student Learning Objectives

Identify warning signs of fraud.

Explain how to protect yourself from fraud.



Fraud Action Pre-Quiz

So Now What

There are few more demoralizing experiences than being tricked or defrauded. After losing your money and a bit of your dignity, it’s easy to blame yourself and feel depressed, guilty, or ashamed. Being shocked or embarrassed won’t help you avoid fraud in the future or make sure that others aren’t victimized by the same criminal. The least productive attitude to adopt is that, as a victim of fraud, you deserved what you got because of your own stupidity. Be assured that it is never this simple. It is always important to remember that YOU are the victim, it is not your fault, and a crime was perpetrated against you.


The best way to deal with being scammed is to ask yourself one important question: where can I report this? First of all, you should file a police report. Many scam artists are repeat offenders who have defrauded dozens of people, and any clues you can give the police about the con will be helpful. Second, contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a collaboration of the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center, and the United States Bureau of Justice. The IC3 website has an online complaint form that you can fill out that will be entered into their database to help track patterns of scammers and Internet fraud.


Next, contact pertinent federal, state and local agencies that relate to the specific type of scam that victimized you. For instance, get in touch with your local branch of the Better Business Bureau if someone claiming to be part of a legitimate business has scammed you. If you receive any unsolicited offers or advertisements via email, or have any of your personal information stolen or compromised, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission. For Internet and telemarketing frauds contact the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center, which collects data and passes it on to law enforcement agencies.


If you believe your personal information has been compromised you are a potential victim of identity theft. Make sure to contact your bank and/or credit card company to inform them and change account information if you fear that your identity might have been stolen. Be cautious, and watch credit card and bank statements carefully for unauthorized charges.


After you’ve reported the scam to the appropriate authorities, research the scam that snared you. A simple Google search of the name of the buyer, or alias of the scammer, could return a lot of hits. Many Web sites catalog advanced-fee scammers to publicize the fraud, and you can contribute your experience to these sites to help get the word out about fraud. Some life lessons are learned the “hard way.” Being scammed once can teach you lessons that may help others, such as: deleting spam, reporting suspicious email, and checking “urgent offers” with legitimate Web sites.


Finally, above all else, the lesson to be taken from being scammed is that you must be careful. If a transaction doesn’t seem right, or you receive an offer from someone you don’t know, or an unsolicited advertisement from a company you don’t recognize, stop! Trust yourself and your instincts and be sure you know who you are dealing with.

Fraud Action Game


1.  What is the definition of Internet crime?


Internet crime is defined as any illegal activity involving one or more components of the Internet, such as Web sites, chat rooms, and/or email. Internet crime involves the use of the Internet to communicate false or fraudulent representations to consumers. These crimes may include, but are not limited to, advance-fee schemes, non-delivery of goods or services, computer hacking, or employment/business opportunity schemes. (


2.   I want to file a complaint about a fake check scam. What type of evidence should I save?


Keep any and all evidence you have related to your complaint. Keep items in a safe location in the event you are requested to provide them as evidence or to help an investigation. Evidence may include:

  • Canceled checks
  • Certified or other mail receipts
  • Chat room or newsgroup text
  • Credit card receipts
  • Envelopes (if you received items via FedEx, UPS, or U.S. Mail)
  • Facsimiles
  • Money order receipts
  • Pamphlets or brochures
  • Phone bills
  • Printed or preferably electronic copies of email (if printed, include full email headers)
  • Printed or preferably electronic copies of Web pages
  • Wire transfer receipts


3.  How do scammers get my email address?


If you post your email address anywhere online it is not private. Scammers also purchase email lists and search the Web for listings. They friend you, they chat with you, they even join organizations just to retrieve email addresses.


4.  How can I really tell if an email or an offer is a scam?


Simple, if it is too good to be true it is a scam. Other tell-tale signs:

* If you receive an offer that asks for your money up-front

* Language such as “special offer,” “secret,” or, “for a select few”

* Email from a company that would ordinarily contact you through the mail

* Email with obvious grammar or spelling mistakes, or overly emphatic language and lots of exclamation points!!!! (though scammers are getting more sophisticated)

* Links that don’t work

* Email that is unsigned

* Email addressed to “Dear Cardholder” as opposed to addressing you by name

* Statements such as, “This is not a hoax!”

* If you receive a chain letter, or are told to “forward this to everyone you know!”


5.  How can I tell if an email is spam?


Is the email from someone you have sent email to or from someone you have given your email address? If the answer is “no” it is unsolicited email. Do not open, do not save, just delete.


6.  Why are “scammers” so hard to catch?


They use false identities, forged documents and made-up addresses. They also often operate from a foreign country, making it difficult for U.S. law enforcement agencies to bring legal action against them.

Fraud Action Post-Quiz