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Common Financial Scams

These are typical strategies from a scammer's playbook. Here's how to stop them.

The Florida Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) urges you to be aware of potential scams when making financial decisions. Knowing what scams are and how to spot them helps defend against financial fraud.


The following are the five most common scams used to target victims in Florida.

  • Tax-Refund Fraud – Typically, the scammer will file a false tax return using a stolen identity, arranging to have the refund electronically transferred to debit cards or have the checks mailed to an address where they can pick it up. By the time the victim files their tax return and the IRS tells them they have a duplicate filing, the scammer is long gone with the refund.
  • Advance Fee Loan Scam – In this type of scam, the victim is told that they qualify for a loan, but they must pay a fee to process the application. Commonly, victims are told to pay the fee using a reloadable debit card or send cash through a service, such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Once the fee is paid, the scammer walks away with the money and the victim is left without a loan.
  • Timeshare Resale Telemarketing Fraud – This type of fraud involves scammers who market advertising services to timeshare owners who want to sell or rent their interest in a timeshare unit. The scammer charges a fee, which they say will be refunded to the victim after the sale. However, no sale materializes and the scammer absconds with the money.
  • Affinity Fraud – This investment fraud involves targeting members of identifiable groups as victims, typically ethnic, religious or professional communities. The scammer takes advantage of the trust that exists in these groups of people, who generally have something in common, to pitch a fake investment opportunity. Commonly, the scammer is also a part of the group.
  • Ponzi Scheme – This investment fraud involves payment of purported returns to previous investors from funds collected from new investors. The scammer typically attempts to lure new victims by promising high returns with little to no risk. The scam collapses when new investors can’t be recruited to pay ‘returns’ to the previous investors.

For your financial security, read any documentation regarding money transfers carefully and verify its authenticity through the appropriate organization. If you feel that may be a victim of fraud or to report suspicious activity, file a complaint with the OFR online, or call 850.487.9687.

Source: League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates LSCU eSignal Daily 4/30/15

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