Top 10 Scams of 2012

Each year the Better Business Bureau investigates thousands of scams, from new schemes that take advantage of current events to old ploys used time and again to bilk people. The BBB uses its data, along with reports from federal agencies and other sources, to compile an annual list of the top scams — not necessarily the biggest as far as the number of people affected or amount of money stolen but rather the most egregious, says Carrie Hurt, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Below you’ll find the BBB’s list of the top scams from the past year in nine categories, plus the “Scam of the Year.”

Top Fake Check Scam: Car Ads — The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, received many complaints in 2012 about online ads promising to pay people $400 or more a week for driving around with company logos on their car. People would be sent a check and asked to deposit in their account and wire part of the payment to a graphic designer who would customize the ad for their vehicle. There was no graphic designer or ad, though, and the check would bounce — usually after people had wired money to the scammers.

Top Emergency Scam: Grandparent Scam — This scam that’s been around a long time involves a grandchild or other relative who is traveling abroad and asks for money to be wired to him right away because he was mugged or hurt (and says, “Please don’t tell Mom and Dad.”). According to the BBB, the FBI reports that it’s easier for scammers to tell a more plausible story because they can use information the “supposed” victim posts on Facebook or Twitter. The BBB says that you never should wire money without trying to contact the supposed victim at his or her regular phone number or checking with family members to see if that person really is traveling.

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