Everyone wants to get scammed online! It’s a rite of passage in the 21st century.
What feels better than truly believing you are buying something, only to find out later that your money went to some scammer halfway around the world? Does a punch in the gut feel better? A karate chop to the neck?
Nope, getting scammed feels WAY better! Trust me, you are going to really enjoy getting scammed.
I know because I’ve been there. I’ve sent not hundreds, but thousands of dollars to people online, only to find out later that I was not going to get anything in return. I’m an expert at getting scammed, you might say.
As an expert, I’d like to share my wisdom for how you too can one day get scammed online. Just read and follow along to join the ranks as one of the suckers. This will be fun!
I have too many good stories not to share them. Should I be embarrassed to share my stories of getting taken? After all, there seems to be this stigma that getting your money taken by strangers is a bad thing. I’m here to convince you otherwise.
I’m the best at getting scammed, the best!
1. The Nigerian Prince
We’ve all heard of the Nigerian prince, and we all know he’s very wealthy. He really wants to send you a few million dollars, but he just needs to know you really want it. Just send him $10,000 (or whatever amount he feels like at the time) and the money will be all yours!
This particular scam is too juvenile for me. Like I said, I’m an expert and would never fall for something so obvious. If you don’t want to fall for these, just don’t send money to people you don’t know and can’t verify online. Easy peasy.
The kinds of scams that get me are when people that you DO know and have some history with ask for money and then take it and run. Those are the ones I fall for. I laugh really hard when those happen.
2. The Fake YouTube Expert from India
Now, I want to share a few scams that I’ve personally fallen victim to… all in 2018. Yep, in a period of 1 year, I got scammed 3 different times. I told you I was really good at this stuff!
This first little fraud was more of a long con, and boy did I fall for it. This little doozy started way back in 2014 when I was contacted by a reader of my blog (yep, a Niche Pursuits reader got me).
Back in 2014, he shared some things he was working on that were going well, particularly with YouTube. In 2016, he offered to sell me a YouTube channel, but I didn’t take him up on it. We actually did a call and over video he showed me the backend of his channel with stats, earnings, etc. A short time later, he sold it… everything seemed pretty legit as I saw the completed listing, etc.
Fast forward to 2018, he reached out and said that he had built a second YouTube channel and was looking to sell again.
Again, I did another call with him and he showed me the numbers and it looked pretty legit. However, I didn’t want to buy the channel… so he offered me something else. He said for $2,500 he would teach me exactly how he builds YouTube channels with massive followings quickly.
In addition, he would not only teach me, but he would have his team create a new channel for me, create the first several videos, and get my channel to a certain subscriber level for me. It would be a white-glove service to build and launch my YouTube channel.
After a couple of discussions with him, I said, “What the heck… let’s do it!” After all, the worst that could happen is I lose $2,500.
Well, turns out I lost $2,500!
After sending the money to a stranger in India, he did communicate with me for about a week. He shared a couple of interesting YouTube tricks and everything seemed legit.
Then excuses started to pile up. He had a wedding and was out of touch for a week. Then he went silent for multiple weeks. He showed up long enough to tell me to be patient.
Then he disappeared altogether for months. No communication, no channel, nothing.
To rub salt in my wounds, my 14 year old son keeps laughing every time he asks how my YouTube channel is coming along! “Only an idiot sends $2,500 to a stranger in India for a YouTube channel.”
At least I’ve raised my son right.
It’s now been 8 months and I don’t have a single YouTube video to show for it. Oddly, the “stranger from India” did randomly communicate with me a couple weeks ago (so I know he’s alive) and said he was sorry… but he didn’t send my money back yet.
I won’t hold my breath on getting it back.
Feel free to let me know if you want his contact info and you’d like to get scammed. It will make you and your children laugh really hard when you send him money and you don’t get it back!
3. The Wire Destination Switcheroo
If you think sending money to a mystery man in India to become a YouTube star is funny, you are going to love this (at least I know I do!).
I sent $3,500 for socks. Turns out I didn’t get any socks.
This one requires a little explanation. Remember, I’m really good at this stuff, so try to keep up.
So, I’ve been running an Amazon FBA business for several years. I manufacture products in China, ship them to Amazon, and sell them under my own brands. You can read how I got started selling on Amazon here and how I sold an Amazon FBA business here. (I also use this Amazon email automation tool.)
So, for several years I’ve been wiring money to companies in China… to people I didn’t know. I’ve NEVER had an issue.
That is, until I decided to get into the sock business. I had a unique idea for some socks and I worked with a manufacturer to get them designed and samples made.
They sent me the samples with my custom design, they looked great! All along the way, I had been working with “Amber” (Chinese manufacturers always go by American first names).
Turns out Amber was pretty sneaky. I should have caught this one, but I’ve had so many successful transactions with manufacturers that I wasn’t overly cautious. But if you want to get scammed like me, you should NEVER be overly cautious and always double-check things.
However, she was still communicating about all the correct details of the order, so nothing seemed off about her emails (and we just missed that it was a new email address).
Then it came time to send the payment of $3,500. Amber, the hotmail Amber, sent the wire details. I grabbed the wire details and sent a wire for $3,500 without being cautious.
Turns out Amber had pulled a little wire destination switcheroo! Instead of the money going to China, I sent the money to Thailand to a “company” with a different name.
A home for entrepreneurs turned investors
A hodgepodge of investing, startup, and online business discussions
- high-value email newsletters
- tips on sites for sale
- a podcast
- networking opportunities
- with more planned for the future
Bottom line is that fake Amber stole my money and disappeared. At this point, the real Amber, with the company name email address, started asking when we were going to send the funds.
I felt sick as we started to unravel what had happened. Even though we caught it just a couple days later, the banks couldn’t return the funds on a “guaranteed funds” wire transfer.
I kissed my $3,500 goodbye as it went to a lady not named Amber in Thailand. She probably wasn’t even a lady.
We exchanged A LOT of emails with the company after this. The scammer HAD to have been inside their company, but nothing ever came of it. They were as confused as we were.
So, I spent a ton of money on some cool socks, but all I got instead is this story that I’m totally not embarrassed to tell every chance I get. It makes me look really smart.
Oh, and I decided to not re-order from that company. My sock empire just never took off after that.
4. Free Stuff on Craigslist!
My wife loves this story. She loves it so much she has forbidden me from ever using Craigslist again.
If you have used Craigslist before, you will know there is a “Free Stuff” section. I’ve posted free stuff on Craigslist several times throughout the years.
If my dishwasher, dryer, or something else big breaks down, I’ll just list it for free rather than loading it into my truck and taking it to the dump. I’ve done this for over a decade and never had an issue.
That is until my lucky year, 2018.
Long story short, I ended up with an old couch and an old chair that not even Goodwill wanted. So, my next try to get rid of them was Craigslist. Surely someone would want a free couch and chair, right?!
Sure enough, a day later we had a taker! However, we were just pulling out of our house to head to church when the cunning Craigslist couple arrived. I got out of my car, introduced myself. They said they had just moved into town and were glad to get some free stuff.
They seemed nice.
Being the really smart person that I am, I decided it was more important to be on time for church than stand around and watch them. So, we left while they were still loading up our couch.
Turns out they decided to load up more than my couch as soon as we left.
They started with our portable basketball hoop. Yep, they loaded up the entire basketball pole, backboard, hoop, etc. Then they started gathering up our basketballs, soccer balls, and whatever else was laying around in our yard.
In the meantime, my wife used her Craigslist spidey-sense, and decided she wanted to go immediately home and check on the house. So, we got to church, then she immediately went back.
She got there just in time to see them pulling out of our driveway with our stuff. Fortunately, they didn’t come back, but we are down a basketball hoop and some other sports gear.
So, in summary, I listed a free couch and chair on Craigslist, and one lucky couple ended up with a whole truckload of my stuff.
That feeling you get when you come back home and see a bunch of your stuff missing and your wife just gives you THAT look? Oh man, that’s delightful!
I’ve been forbidden from ever using Craigslist again, and my wife likes to remind me of this fun little time I got scammed whenever she can.
Oh, and the best part is that they actually left the old chair. So, I still had to make a trip to the dump which is what I was trying to avoid in the first place.
Apparently, I’m Not Alone
Turns out a few other readers of Niche Pursuits have been scammed as well. Here’s a sample of some of the comments people made to a Facebook group request I made for other people’s experiences getting scammed.
Just remember, there are lots of opportunities to get scammed online. So, pick your favorite below and see if you can experience the joy we have all found!
(Names withheld to protect the innocent…)
5. Grandparent Jail Scam
I have an acquaintance who had his elderly grandparent scammed. The scammers find out a little bit about their grandchildren and then call them claiming that they “are in jail” and need some money to “get out of a bind”. Sad but true. And I have some elderly family members whom have also had similar phone call scams attempted on them.
6. Fake Job Hiring
I was a victim of job hiring scam. They got a .com with a big company whose domain was .co.uk. They then interviewed me for more than a half hour, until the question came up “What is your bank? We want to make sure they will accept transfers from us.” The flags went up, I did some more research and had and their hosting and job posting accounts suspended.
7. Fix the “Computer Errors”
I was a computer tech servicing a client’s computer. While I’m sitting there, the woman gets a call and says it’s from MicroSoft. I asked her to hand me the phone and followed along with the phone tech. He told me to go into the Windows event log and then told me all of those errors (which are normal errors) were dangerous and that for $100 he could fix the computer. I told him to go suck an egg.
8. Just Cash These Travelers Checks…
Years ago when I was looking for a job I saw a small job advertised for someone to check some travelers cheques. They sent me the cheques, and all I had to do was go and cash then and I could keep half the money. Of course they were fake… and I got a lift in the back of a police car as a result!
9. Girl from Texas or Old Man from Bangladesh?
I get a lot of freelancers who claim to be young english speaking women who are in fact non-native english speaking people and likely not women either. I think people get more jobs if they’re Bianca age: 20 from Texas with curly blonde hair than some guy from Bangladesh age 56. The problem is I can’t tell cause none of these people speak fluently. 🙂 Happens all the time btw
10. You Won the Online Lottery!
Years ago I’ve got an email to my private domain email that my yahoo account has been selected to win a $1000 in their lottery. The email, domain sent from etc. was looking really reliable (especially for a 10 year old). Thankfully it was really hard for me and my parents back then to make an online bank transfer from PLN to USD which I was told to make as payment verification…
11. Missing Parts from Your Amazon Order?
Amazon customers returning broken items or simply only returning part of a product. A.k.a buying to get a part. This causes Amazon to resell it and the next buyer will certainly leave a bad review as they will be missing a part! Hate this.
12. Just Pay My Graphic Designer…
For web designs you will get an email about web design and do you accept credit cards. If yes, great. I am blind/deaf/in the hospital or some reason they can’t talk on the phone. My graphic designer doesn’t take credit cards, can I pay you the full amount and then have you pay my graphic designer? A month later… charge back for fraud and you are out the money.
13. Wait, He’s Not Nigerian!?!
This is the biggest one… Scamming thousands of people into believing the ‘Nigerian prince’ is Nigerian. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/31/us/nigerian-prince-fraud.html
14. Please Cash this Large Check for Me
Some guy wanted to buy my old piano, but it was this scammer. One second after I posted the ad, he replied and said his name was like Earl Von Cleef (something distinguished) and that he was ready to buy the piano and send a delivery guy to get it. I didn’t reply.. then weeks later I got a check for 3x the amount of the piano.. it was written from an oil company in Alberta, for like $2K. Guy then texts and says “did you get my money.. quick, go cash it!” and I was like “why is it 3x the amount I asked?” he’s like “it’s a tip just for you sir” then i called the oil company up, got their accountant and he was like “yeah, someone got a hold of our checks and is handing out fake checks” .. i’m like oh, ok. Lucky I called that oil company and fished around in their directory til I got someone. Oil companies don’t always have secretaries.
15. Confirm This Code So I Prove You Are Real
Craigslist scammer: they list an item for cheap like a PS4 for $150 and request that you text to contact them. When you do, they send a Google confirmation code to your phone and ask that you repeat that code to them to prove you’re not a bot. This code is actually a reset code to tie a phone number to your Google account and everything under it. Pretty scary!
16. You Need a VIN Report?
Post a vehicle for sale on Craigslist and a short while later you’ll get a message that the person is interested and they want you to get a VIN report from whatever scammer company they own.
17. MLM, Ponzi… Just Join!
I was scammed in my very first online job where an MLM kind of Ponzi scheme was being offered by a company called Speak Asia. It was a big scam which took India by storm with TV ads and all. Lots of my friends made money through it before I joined. But the govt. opened its eyes as soon as I joined it by spending a fortune from my already broke pockets unfortunately and hammered it down. 😂
It closed before I could make a single dime.
18. Sell These Counterfeits on eBay for Me
I made a stupid mistake many years ago when I was looking for ways to make some extra money on the side.
I ended up getting in contact with a distributor in China who needed “Sales Representatives” to sell their stock using our eBay accounts. I was listing things Beats by Dre headphones and Ugg Boots. Which I was told were 100% genuine.
After doing this for nearly 2 months, some customers were messaging me saying they were fake and wanted a refund. Some were happy with them but still informed me they were fake and some messaged me to say their product had been seized by customs.
Things got very ugly when I sent my last payment to the distributor for him to dispatch my recent orders at which point all contact with him went dark. I was left with hundreds of complaining customers who were waiting for their products who I couldn’t refund because I had already sent the money to the distributor.
I felt sick!
Luckily, PayPal refunded all the money owed to those who had paid but I was left with eBay and PayPal fees close to £2000 and had all my accounts suspended.
I look back at all this now and can’t believe I got myself into such a mess, I’m a changed person and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned during what felt like such a horrific time.
19. Send Me Money via PayPal
Now I’ve given you plenty of options for ways you can get scammed, feel cheated, or lose out on some money, but I’ve got one more great idea. If none of the previous options are appealing to you, I’m going to make this final option really easy.
Just send me some money on PayPal.
That’s right, for the very low price of just $25, I’m going to give you the feeling of being scammed. Send me $25 and you will get absolutely nothing in return. No thank you, no products, nothing.
Just that tingly feeling of losing your hard earned-money.
Go ahead, click the “Buy Now” button and get that experience you’ve always been wanting. You know you want to.
Now, if for some reason after reading this entire article, you are hesitant to send me your hard-earned money, I’d have to say that my work here is done!
P.S. What to Do if You’re Actually Scammed Online
I hope you enjoyed this somewhat tongue-in-cheek article on how not to get scammed online.
If you DO find yourself in an iffy situation, I highly recommend you check out this resource by the Federal Trade Commission: 10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud. This is a great list of tips to avoid getting scammed. Best of luck out there!