5 Simple Ways to Identify Online Scams and other Schemes

Free MoneyCreating a successful website is hard and smart work. Compelling content, useful applications, vibrant user communities, are some of the ways successful sites earn their money. Be wary of claims that you can skip all of the hard and smart work and make much money using a secret system, posting links, running a kit to generate websites, filling forms online, or anything of that sort.

I personally have been “almost” scammed more than once, if not for skepticism and talking about the schemes I would have been a victim. That leads us to the first way to identify a fraud:


  • Share and Research: When the first sign of doubt emerges, talk about it with people, try to find out if other people you know have had any experience with what you are about to get into. If no result, then perform a search on Google and Bing. Search for reviews of the product or service you are about to spend your hard earned money on and see what people have to say. You will certainly get enough feedback from the web to enable you unmask the scam.

  • Educate yourself about ponzi and pyramid schemes. They basically work by giving you commissions for recruiting people for the scheme. Percentages of the money your recruits pay is paid to you as commission, and there is no or little other way the network is funded, leading ultimately to a collapse. There are a lot of genuine multi-level marketing companies out there with great products and services. It is important to educate yourself and understand how they work so you are not mislead.

  • Verify third party endorsements: Lots of scamming and fraudulent websites can fool you into believing that they are endorsed by popular companies and media houses like CNN, BBC, Forbes Magazine, etc… If on a website you see logos and five stars reviews by leading news channels and you can’t find actual information about the suspected scheme or fraud on the referenced websites, don’t waste your time with that. You should rather file a complaint.

  • Verify that the website is using a secure connection: This is a feature of a lot of phishing websites. Most of them don’t use Secure Socket Layers, which is a technology used by all financial institutions online, payment processing gateways and shopping website to encrypt communication between you and their servers, so that the information you share with them is not easily intercepted and read. Look for a small padlock icon in the address or status bar of you browser. If you find one, then communication with the website you are visiting is secured and the full website address should start with: https://

  • Discard any unsolicited email that is able to cross over your junk mail filter and contains any of the following terms: cash, lottery, won, million, pay day, secrets, systems, etc… The golden rule is that if you did not expect an email and you don’t know the sender of the email, discard it.

If despite taking all the measures above you still get scammed or are victim of fraud, you can file a complaint, visit http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/contact.shtm, call 1-877-FTC-HELP, or write to the following address:
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580
You may also consider filing a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). If your complaint is against a company in a country other than the United States, you can file it at http://www.econsumer.gov/
News Reporter
Lionnel Yamentou Ndzogoue is a young African dreamer, with the vision of creating 10,000 or more jobs in Africa by 2035 in contribution to wealth creation on the continent. This blog is a platform for expressing his thoughts on the world, technology, personal development and other subjects as they come to mind. Some content is republished from other online sources.