30 Common Types of Scams That You Need to Look Out For

The best way to avoid scams is to use common sense. Here are 30 types of scams that you need to watch out for!


We were always trying to deceit one another for millennia. The first-ever fraud is reported from 300 B. C.

Fraud is treated as an act of illicit or unlawful deception meant to induce financial or personal gain. A considerable fraction of humans is typically fraudulent. In 1796, just 16 years after the Declaration of Independence, the United States experienced its first fraud.

Even though things have changed rapidly in the last few decades, some of the earliest used scams and frauds are still used today by many people. There are numerous old cases of fraud still practiced today, adversely affecting families and individuals, financially and psychologically, all around the world.

  1. 1 Credit Card Fraud

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    Credit card fraud is currently a trendy type of scam that refers to the unauthorized access or use of credit cards or debit cards to purchasing goods or services or making money transfers. Standard methods of doing credit card fraud are stealing or losing someone’s card, stealing card information (card number, pin, CVV, passcodes, etc.), or stealing from unsecured websites.

    One can avoid credit card fraud by enabling SMS alerts and online banking to closely monitor unauthorized usages. Then if you notice any activity not done by you, you can disable your credit or debit card by contacting your bank.

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  2. 2 Health Care Fraud

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    Health fraud occurs when an individual, insurance agent, or medical office misuses insurance details for their own personal benefit. This will have a massive effect on the victim if a suspect has access to and uses your health insurance records for their own health benefits. The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association records that health care fraud costs the industry tens of billions of dollars each year.

    To prevent health care fraud, you should give more attention to medical bills, and insurance claims, checking if there are any services listed that you did not receive.

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  3. 3 Voter Fraud

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    There have been many accusations of voter fraud in both the 2016 and 2020 Presidential Elections of the USA. Voter fraud is any type of illegal meddling with the voting process of an election. For example, cases such as voting using a false identity, voting twice, and buying or selling their vote can be given.

    Many governments worldwide now have many tight regulations and independent regulatory bodies to stop these kinds of fraud. Yet still, there are some people and even governments themselves engage in voter fraud.

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  4. 4 Bank Account Takeover Fraud

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    One of the worst types of fraud is when a scammer gets access to someone’s bank account. There are many ways that it can happen just by stealing a cheque from the post-box, scamming the e-mail to get account information, or some expert scammer will use malware or hacking tools to gain personal information.

    If the victim does not have good attention to the bank account, scammers will drain all the money before they know it. Checking bank statements on at least a monthly basis will minimize the risk of these types of frauds.

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  5. 5 Driving License Fraud

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    You can do many things with your driving license, including boarding a plane, opening a bank account, and also you can drive. Therefore, if your driving license gets stolen, the thief can do those things with your name. An imposter will present your driving license at a traffic stop when they have violated the traffic rules, and you will have to pay the fine.

    Scammers will even use it to do illegal activities, and you will have to go through a lot of trouble if authorities come for you.

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  6. 6 Bogus Dry-Cleaning Bill Scam

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    Dry-cleaning operations became more common in the early 1940s due to oil shortages during the Second World War. Scammers took advantage of the businesses by taking the bill from legal dry cleaners and making 1,000 copies of it.

    They will then send these bills to fancy hotels and restaurants, alleging that the victim's restaurant had spilled food, coffee, or champagne on a guest's luxurious suit. Although the dry-cleaning costs were often modest, restaurants and hotels would typically pay for it without asking any questions.

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  7. 7 Horse Trading

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    In the 1800s, horses were more than a magnificent animal. They were used for combat, shipping, agricultural work, mail distribution, hunting, and sport. Horses were also the most precious possession of their holders.

    In 1889, a handsome man turned up at a farm promising to purchase a fine horse. He vowed that he would send $10 for the horse that day and $25 more a week later.

    The next day, another gentleman walked up asking for the same horse but promised to pay an additional $25. The farmer accepted. When the first man returned to the horse, the farmer gave his money to the first gentlemen, plus an additional $10 for his troubles.

    The second gentleman had never returned for the horse, and the two gentlemen had divided the defrauded money.

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  8. 8 Inheritance Notices

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    It's incredibly unusual for someone to have a distant relative they have never heard of, leaving them a huge amount of money. The inheritance scam initially comes with an e-mail or letter delivered via mail.

    The document usually assures the individual that they will obtain a substantial inheritance; however, they must first give a sum of money to pay the administrative costs.

    The individual who gets scammed sees the charge as a small payment relative to the vast amount of money they are going to get. Over the years, thousands of families and individuals have been scammed by false inheritance notices.

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  9. 9 Anti-Aging Products

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    People have always been craving to look young. With the rapid growth of the means of socialization in the past few decades, society has put an enormous weight on their appearance. There are many famous instances where people have ruined their lives financially just to look attractive and young.

    Scammers target the elder and relatively wealthy people by selling products with very little to no effect in concealing their age. Those anti-aging products are most of the time harmful and completely worthless.

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  10. 10 Pyramid Schemes

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    Pyramid schemes are a widespread form of scam where members make money by enrolling more people to buy-in. Normally, the originator advises an initial group of people to buy in and advertise for the scheme. They are then persuaded to enroll others and guaranteed part of the money those people invest, while the founder also takes a share.

    Most of the time, more than 80% of the participants of the schemes lose all their money. Even though pyramid schemes are illegal in most countries, they are hard to detect. Victims are often embarrassed at the end and do not report the fraud.

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  11. 11 Fortune-Telling

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    Fortune-telling has been in practice for thousands of years in various cultures all around the world, and still, they are very popular in Asian countries. But now, many people consider fortune-telling to be fraudulent activity.

    Modern fortune-telling scam employs cold-reading abilities to detect the problems of the client. Fortune-tellers mostly refer to them as curses and charge money in order to diminish them. Once the client pays, these scammers do something fake, which will also convince them they are broken free from the curse.

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  12. 12 Identity Theft

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    Identity theft is done for many purposes by scammers, and it is reported that more than 9 million Americans have their identities robbed each year. They obtain the personal and financial information of other persons, and they use that information to do illegal and illicit transactions or purchases. Victims often face the consequences like damages to their finances, credit, and personal reputation.

    Most of the time, these scammers pretend to be government or reputable authorities (e.g., IRS) to collect personal data. Ordinary people who have little knowledge of formal matters tend to fall victim to this type of fraud.

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  13. 13 Investments

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    Even though many people have retirement plans, most of them mess things up with their savings after they finish working. The majority of the elderly population in the United States uses their Social Security cheques for their spending.

    Scammers victimize those elderly people by pretending to be financial advisors to get into their retirement funds and savings. Finally, when they gain access to the funds, they disappear without a trace.

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  14. 14 Salting the Mine

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    This was a popular scam during the Gold Rush in the 1800s in states like Arizona. The seller takes ore from a profitable mine and carefully disperse it on its non-productive mine, hoping to close the sale of the claim. Some scammers use shotguns, fill the load with gold dust, and blow the walls of the shaft, soaking them with gold particles. Gold was malleable and would imbue itself with a rock, giving worthless mine a heavily mineralized façade.

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  15. 15 Fake Lottery Winnings

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    The lottery is a type of gambling that became popular in the United States in the 19th century. Still, later all gambling, including lotteries were banned at the beginning of the 20th century.

    This type of scam usually begins with an unexpected e-mail stating that the victim has won the lottery and needs to pay a small amount as a processing fee, administrative fee, or transfer charges in order to claim the prize. When the victim pays the money, the scammer will not respond to e-mails and disappear without a trace.

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  16. 16 Internet Fraud

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    The present-day internet that we know of was initially developed in the early 1970s. However, it was not available to ordinary people until 1983. Since then, people have been using the internet to gain knowledge and socialize with other individuals.

    Unfortunately, it is also used to scam other people. In 2017, the FBI got more than 300,000 complaints regarding internet scams. FBI further mentions that the victims have lost over US$ 1.4 billion to online fraud.

    It is pitiful that the internet is one of the most prominent media for these scams. The FBI was receiving more than 300,000 complaints on internet fraud solely in 2017, and they further stated that those victims lost more than US$ 1.4 billion in online scams.

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  17. 17 Real Estate Fraud

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    One of the most ambitious things of every person or a family is to have their own house, and they spend a good proportion of their life’s earning on that. Due to that, real state frauds are dreadful to the sufferers. FBI has reported that they have received 11,300 complaints on real estate fraud with more than US$ 149 million in losses in 2018.

    Fake real estate agents say that they hold the money until the deal is done and disappear afterward with the money. It is reported that people do not file complaints about these types of scams due to embarrassment.

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  18. 18 Funerals

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    The death of a close family member or a friend is traumatizing and sentimental time. In these types of conditions, people can be easily deceived, and it is very dismal to even consider swindling a mourning family.

    Sadly, many cases were reported of scammers preying at funerals. Scammers mostly claim that the deceased person had an overdue debt that should be repaid urgently or exaggerate funeral costs and sell irrelevant services.

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  19. 19 Disappearing Act

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    The Disappearing Act became a common fraud in the 1880s. A team consisting of two women and one man stole things such as lace, dresses, accessories, and other high-quality products. The women ordered the merchant to send the goods to their parlor, but they would vanish with the goods, leaving the messenger eagerly waiting for his reward.

    In modern days, the Disappearing Act could be perceived to be some kind of retail theft. About $35 million worth of retail merchandise is robbed from stores last year, according to NASP.

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  20. 20 Job Offers

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    People who look for work are also ambitious and naive more than ever now. Actually, there are about as many scams as there is actual online work. Before the internet, though, people can use a newspaper job listing column to trick people out of money.

    Some work scammers are asking their victims to pay for their background reports or training, while others are merely asking to get money sent to them or to ask for their credit card numbers.

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  21. 21 Man of Cloth

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    In the 20th century, it was very common for criminals to impersonate another person for self-gain. For example, there have been reports of bank robbers dressed up as bank managers to steal money.

    In 1888, a man presented himself as Father McCarthy of Montreal to the chief priest in Washington, D. C. Later that day, McCarthy went to the nearest jewelry shop to look for a present for the Cardinal. He ordered a merchant to deliver a couple of diamonds to the chapel where he was living.

    When the merchant had arrived with the merchandise, McCarthy wondered whether he could take the diamonds to some other room to display other priests. Instead, he slipped out of the back entrance, never to be seen again.

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  22. 22 Mortgages

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    A home is every family’s most valuable commodity. Scammers tend to use this when thinking of a way to earn quick money. There have been thousands of reports from all over the country of receipt of counterfeit letters pretending to be mortgage companies in the past few decades.

    These fraudulent company people force homeowners to take out equity to use as payments for renovations or other costs for the house.

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  23. 23 Romance Scams

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    Romance scams just don't affect a person both financially but emotionally as well. Victims of relationship scams are led to believe that the person they talk to really likes and cares for them.

    Criminals usually locate their prey on dating sites or social media. Once they have a bond and are familiar with their victims, they normally start asking for money. They would also complain that they need money for medical bills or to help them get out of a challenging situation.

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  24. 24 Coin-Matching Game

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    Coin-matching is played all over the world and can be played legitimately. Anyway, some people use it for the unfair benefit of themselves by scamming others.

    The scheme is normally run by two controllers. The first controller, along with the victim, enters the game. Then the second controller enters soon afterward and continues to lose the game.

    After pretending to call the police, they persuade the victim to give them hush money, and the two controllers then broke up.

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  25. 25 Grandparent Scam

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    This is rather a cruel type of scam where a grandparent gets an e-mail or a call from someone claiming to be his/her grandchild stating that they are entangled in some trouble. As an example, the scammer may say that he is arrested or kidnapped and needs bail money or ransom to be free and asks not to tell the grandchild’s parents, claiming that they will be upset over this. Most of the time, the scammer will ask to send money in a media which is not traceable.

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  26. 26 Green Goods

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    The United States saw an abundance of counterfeit currency in the 19th century. Historians later dubbed the ‘Green Goods Game’ in this era. Scammers will post flyers all over the world pretending to sell ‘genuine’ counterfeit money for sale.

    Victims will always respond to the flyers and drive to the place to conclude the transaction. Upon delivery, a bag of real money will be shown to the victim. However, while the victim was busy, the bag of money would be exchanged for a bag of sawdust, green paper, or other useless objects.

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  27. 27 Strip Club Scams

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    Scams happening in strip clubs or clip joints are a very often thing seen over many years. These institutes provide adult entertainment and open bars to attract various customers for various ranges of prices.

    Then these customers have been deluded into paying for overpriced services or significantly lower quality services. And sometimes, customers are manipulated to pay for services that they will never receive. Some of these open bars have been accused of diluting the alcohol level or selling overpriced liquor.

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  28. 28 Three-Card Monte

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    Three-Card Monte is a gambling-type card game that is prohibited from playing for money. There are many compelling stories related to this game in folklore. The game was popular in the United States in the early 1800s.

    The game is based on a plain sleight of hand. The controller throws either of the two cards held in one hand. The illusion established is that only the bottom card is thrown at all times. Even so, the top card can be dropped in an identical way to alter the outcome.

    People who gamble have been losing money to Three-Card Monte swindles for more than a hundred years.

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  29. 29 Financial Legal Help

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    Financial legal frauds very much go ignored, or worst, unreported. They can be hard to convict in such a way that they are regarded as a low-risk felony. However, it doesn't mean that they are not devastating to the victims.

    With these financial legal scams, an individual will act as a lawyer and sell services that are not licensed to provide. After the deal is signed, the client will be compelled to pay whatever the lawyer demands.

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  30. 30 Mail Fraud

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    Mail fraud is a criminal offense in the US that includes mailing or electronically transferring something related to fraud. Surprisingly, the US Congress imposed the death penalty for those who do mail fraud in 1792. Many types of mail fraud exist, such as financial fraud, employment fraud, fraud against older Americans, and telemarketing fraud.

    Although there have been many attempts by authorities to prevent mail fraud, unfortunately, scammers still use the mail to do their illicit work, sometimes working from thousands of miles away.

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