Unexpected Money Scams

If you are asked to provide payments before receiving goods or money, think twice.

How the scam works
Scammers tell you out of the blue that you are entitled to money, precious gems, gold or valuable shares but you need to make upfront payments to get them. You will never receive what was promised and there will always be an excuse for why you have to pay more. If you pay the fees, you will lose your money.

Rebate or reclaim scams involve a scammer telling you that you are owed money for reasons such as overpaid taxes, bank fees or some sort of compensation. However, before you can get your money you are asked to pay a small administration fee.

With inheritance scams, scammers pose as lawyers, bankers or foreign officials and tell you that you are entitled to a large inheritance or offer you a share in a scheme because you have the same name as someone who died. They often use official-looking documents and ask you to make payments for fees and taxes before you can receive the inheritance. They can also ask for your personal details to fill out 'official paperwork'. This means that you might have your identity stolen as well as your money.

Commonly called Nigerian scams may have originated in West Africa but can come from anywhere in the world. They involve scammers telling you they need your help to secure a large fortune which they are desperately trying to transfer out of their country. They may claim the fortune is a hidden stash of money, gold or assets abandoned by a corrupt government or official and if you agree to receive it they will give you a large share when it is safe to do so. Like all of these scams, they will say you first need to pay taxes, bank charges or fees for anti-terrorism and money laundering checks before they can send the money.

These scams commonly come from overseas and ask for payment via wire transfer but may also ask for bank transfers or other payment methods.

If you fall for these scams, you will never receive anything from the scammer and lose any money you sent.

Protect yourself
- Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
- Avoid any arrangement with a stranger that asks for up-front payment via money order, wire transfer, international funds transfer, pre-loaded card or electronic currency. It is rare to recover money sent this way.
- If an unsolicited email looks suspicious, just delete it. Dont click on any links.
- Government departments, banks or utilities will never contact you asking you to pay money upfront in order to claim a fee or rebate.
- If you are unsure, check the identity of the contact independently. Do not use the contact details provided in the message sent to you - get correct contact details through an independent source such as a phone book or online search.
- Conduct a search online using the exact wording of the offer - many scams can be identified this way.

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