You work hard all your life, try to make smart decisions about money, fund your 401K or save money to supplement your pension and Social Security, and are getting ready to enjoy your golden years, only to lose it all when you fall victim to a sneaky scam-artist.
There are more con-artists out there than you can shake a stick at and all of them are just dying to get their hands on your hard-earned money. Even if they don’t take all of it, scammers are happy to take any chunk of cold hard cash they can come by.
So you don’t fall victim to these low-life predators, we’ve compiled a list of 35 people giving first hand accounts of con-artists who have scammed them. Learn how these cheats operate so you can turn the tables on them!
1. Never get Medical Advice from the Internet
I once came down with about of the hemorrhoids. Well, I assumed it was based on what I knew about hemorrhoid. Too embarrassed to ask friends and family for advice, I did what most people do in these circumstances, I sought medical advice from the Internet. This was back in the 90’s so I logged onto AOL and searched for a cure. I found a website that offered a permanent cure of hemorrhoids. The curator of this site learned this cure when he was a POW in Vietnam, and for $50 I could be hemorrhoids free forever.
Fifty dollars poorer and I get the email (with the cure). The cure was to stick my finger up my “back hole” and twirl it around for ten minutes a day, every day. It was then I realized I just paid someone to tell me to stick my finger up my “back hole”.
2. I got iSoda!
One day, as I walking to college a car stops by me and they ask if I would like to buy a brand new iPhone for $250. That’s extremely cheap, so I’m interested but a little worried. I ask if it was stolen and the guy tells me no. He said he just got fired and that was his “severance package.” I get into the car to check out the phone and turns it out that it really was a brand new iPhone.
As I am about to pull the money out, he tells me he also has an iPad and an iPod. He passes me a blue bag, with all three neatly packed in it. He tells me he could sell all three to me for $500. Obviously, I don’t have that amount of money on me, so I tell him I need an ATM. I get out, get the money and walk back to the car, he passes the bag to me, grabs the cash, and speeds away. When I opened the bag, there were two bottles of orange soda.
3. Not all Cologne is created equally
I was in High-School at that time. While walking on the street, there’s this guy who offered me a pheromone cologne for like 100 dollars. I wasn’t familiar with it so I asked what it was, he said it can cause a chemical reaction that makes women attracted to you. My younger self thought that it was awesome, so I grabbed it without a second thought.
Next morning preparing for school, I sprayed it all over my body and it smelt awful and I never spoke to a girl while wearing it. I later found out the pheromones were taken from some type of animal urine. I was spraying animal pee on me and was confused why chicks weren’t into me.
4. My Mom just fell for it!
This morning my mom (she’s 76) got a call from “Apple” saying that hackers got her credit card information and were trying to steal around $12,000. She granted the caller access to her computer and he was controlling it remotely, so he could “browse around and try to find something suspicious”. What an ironic choice of words.
Anyway, by the time I made it to her house for dinner tonight, it was too late. She had already given this guy her Apple ID/Password, the serial number on her iPhone and iPad, and her … (gulp) … social security number! It’s still too soon to know exactly what kind of chaos this is going to cause, but whatever happens, it’s not going to be pretty.
5. Pretended to be a “Friend” of my Boss
I was working the first shift in a bar, when this man comes in and starts talking about how he is a friend of the owners (knew them by name and everything) and said how they said that I should borrow him some money from the register (around $100) and proceeded to “call” one of them to confirm his story.
I was pretty tired and just agreed and gave him the money and it literally took me almost an hour to realize what really happened.. Got my paycheck the day before so I just put the money back. The crazy part is that I told a friend about this, and it happened to her a month or two later in a pub where she works (she even described him pretty similarly).
6. Fake Chef
A guy I went to high school with scammed a town full of people in the next state over by pretending to be a Food Network chef. He claimed that he was setting up a barbecue in their town with people such as Bobby Flay and Robert Irving in attendance, then proceeded to charge $35 a ticket to the tune of $10,000. The charade fell apart when he did a presentation and people realized he had no clue how to make most of the stuff he was demonstrating.
People did a little digging and realized he wasn’t a chef and had never been employed by Food Network. The police agreed not to press charges if he gave everyone their money back.
7. Claiming to be Grandchildren
My grandmother was scammed. A male called, claiming to be my brother in law, Matt. He said “Hey Martha, I’m in a jail in Florida. I need $3,000 for bail, can you help me?” My grandmother, being the angel she is, obliged without many questions. Although my Brother-in-Law is the most stand up guy ever, she bought it, for some reason. She followed their instructions to wire $3,000 somewhere.
After that, she calls my sister and asked what was wrong with Matt. My sister puts two and two together, explains that she and Matt are at home and about to go to bed.
The damage was done. Those people are the worst.
8. The Secret Thief
When I was like 14, I saved up all of my money all year from my paper route to get people nice gifts at Christmas. When I went to the mall, there was a man there who was “deaf.” He handed me a keychain with a note that read “I am a deaf person, and an unemployed. Will you please buy this keychain for $5?”
Being naive, I pulled out my wallet with like $500 cash. The guy was so happy that I wanted to help him that he taught me a secret handshake. When I sat down, I noticed my wallet was gone. Literally 8 months of savings gone to some scam artist in exchange for a 25 cent keychain. I wish I could say that I didn’t cry.
9. I lost my $500 that quick
I met this Hot girl in our school and she hit me up. After talking for a few months she said her phone was busted and needed it for work and was freaking out because she couldn’t afford a new one until next paycheck. She asked if I could help pay for part of a new one for her and she would pay me back when she got her next paycheck. She needed $500 for a new phone.
I sent it to her right away without suspecting or having a second thought because of course I met her personally and we’ve been talking for many months already. But after I sent the money to her, I never heard from her again. I tried to contact her thru text and call, but I receive no response. So shall I say, Good bye my $500!
10. Contest Winner Scam
Not a scam I fell for but a friend fell for. She entered some photo contest and her picture won, I said that’s awesome and all of that. Next thing she tells me is they want 200 dollars to enter her winning picture in like the next level up of contests, like she was entered into the local contest and won and now they needed 200 dollars to enter her picture into the regional contest.
I was like uh…why are you paying them if you won this contest? I was trying very nicely to get her to arrive to the conclusion herself that she was being scammed without coming right out! And she actually started justifying all of these reasons why it sounded legit. What really got me was she didn’t even have the 200 dollars, she had to borrow it from a friend to enter some contest where the prize is apparently paying the contest holders.
11. Charity Fraud
While I was casually walking down the street, I walked past a guy in a red vest who desperately tried to get my attention. I stopped (big mistake, I know) & engaged the guy in conversation. He gave me the typical spiel that one would expect from a solicitor about how his organization was collecting money for victims of the Typhoon in the Philippines. Normally I don’t give money to people on the street, but I must admit that this guy was really persuasive. When I first told him that I was not interested in donating he asked me why & regardless of what excuse I came up with he always had the perfect counter argument.
Finally I caved & asked him how much I should donate. He said, “Any amount will do.” He then starts showing some pictures of the victims that made me felt sorry, so I handed him $200 and left. When I got home, I searched on the internet if there was really a typhoon in the Philippines at that time, and that moment I realized that I was scammed.
12. Definitely a “Love” Scam
My (wasn’t really a friend, more like an acquaintance) fell for a scam from someone from Nigeria. She met him on a dating site and she knew he lived in Nigeria and everything and they were “dating.” Then one day he suddenly needed 5,000 dollars for his business. She literally lived in a one bedroom apartment with her 3 children and had no job. She took out a loan somehow to give this guy living in Nigeria 5,000 dollars.
Then she was shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU! That it was a scam and someone would take advantage of a single mother like this. Like, really lady? But it served a lesson to her.And to all people finding true love in online world, be extra careful. I’m not saying that it’s impossible, but please know that many people are taking advantage of using internet just to get money by scamming. Protect your heart and your wallet!
13. Get it “Free”
I fell in a scam of someone selling a batch of iPhones and if you buy two you get a third for free. Like who wouldn’t want something for FREE?! So my inner self told me to grab it!
I sent the money right away through Western Union and a couple days later they told me that there was an issue with customs in another country far away from mine, and that I have to send them more money. The documents were forged and I almost fell for it again. Lost about $1,000 at that time. It was my savings while I was in college.
14. The Wooden Speakers
I went to the mall with my best friend. As we’re leaving a brown pickup truck pulls up and the guys who were driving told us that they got this brand new Surround System in there truck they were going to return but the store wouldn’t take it. At this point I should have seen the multiple red flags, but I was hypnotized by this surround sound system. I don’t recognize the name, but it seemed legit, so I offered a little less than what the asked for. As I’m pulling my money out of my wallet the scammers see I have more than just $200 and start berating me to pay more.
They gave me the sound system and left. I get home still a little excited. I open the sound system and lo and behold. There’s actually speakers wow. I pull everything out, subwoofer, and speakers…then I realized there was not a single cable. I open the speakers because now I’m upset. They aren’t speakers, but wooden cut outs, with rocks for weights. Now I’m checking the packaging closer, it was the worst Photoshop I’ve ever seen. Lost $250.
15. A Call about an Alleged Accident
I had a client who was on a certain social media dating app talking to someone. They agreed to meet. The individual didn’t show and later he got a call from the other person’s “mom” saying her son was in a very bad car accident and intensive care and that he was 16. Then “Sergeant Johnson” texted him and said he would be prosecuted for a malicious crime against a minor if he didn’t pay the cost of the car and the hospital bill.
When my client came to me, I texted the guy who said he was “Sergeant Johnson” via a throw-away number on Google. He sent me bank account numbers plus an “invoice” from the hospital for CT scans and other medical stuff, which were way out of line for what these things actually cost. I traced the phone number back to some woman in rural Arkansas and called the bank, who actually confirmed the same name was on the account the scammer wanted the money wired to. I reported it to the bank as fraud and the police but I assume nothing came of it.
16. Product Sponsorship Scam
I got an email to do a product sponsorship on my channel from someone claiming to be an agent for the company. I was promised $4000 for every 100,000 views and so I took the offer. I posted the video with sponsored content and a month later the video had gotten 240,000 views but I had yet to be payed and the agent kept making excuses. So I emailed the company directly and turns out they had never heard of me and had no intention of paying me but where flattered that I liked their product enough to promote them in a video. I ended up taking down the video and re-uploaded it without the sponsored content.
We figure that the agent was hired by the company to increase sales and they probably did, but lied to the company as to how they did it. To this day I have not done another sponsorship on my channel.
17. Housing Scam
I lost $700 to a housing scammer. Back in May this year I inquired about a CL ad for a house for rent. It was a perfect match for me. Nice house, good neighborhood, owner would let me have whatever pets I wanted without any fees. Should have realized it was too good to be true. Made the mistake of wiring them the deposit money without signing anything or meeting with anyone.
The worst part is that I was being so careful the whole time, researching and verifying any information given to me, and I still made a big mistake that cost me money I couldn’t afford to lose. But I’ll just charge it up to experience and I swear to myself that I’ll never fall for the same mistake twice.
18. Paid $30 for empty boxes
It was the week before Christmas and I was distraught because I had no presents for my children, I had been laid off work and had rent arrears. However I saw a shop in the heart of London which was selling a black sack of goods for $30 – the shop front said they were from bankrupt stock. There were policemen nearby so I thought “thank you God” and went in. It was a bit like an auction and you could hold up your hand for the items to go into your black sack. I chose a remote control car and a remote control robot for my sons and a talking doll for my little girl. I was soooo happy and paid my last money and they gave me the sack.
When I got home, I opened the sack I was horrified and heartbroken to find it contained empty boxes which were weighted to feel like real goods. I have never forgotten that man who asked me which toys I wanted in my sack. To this day, God forgive me, My heart burns with hatred for that man and I often dream of meeting him again so I can spit in his ugly face.
19. The Delivery Guy just fooled me!
My pizza order came late and therefore should have been free. It was supposed to be $20 for the pizza. I tipped the delivery guy $5. He took it reluctantly and told me that if he’s late he has to pay for the pizza. He asked if I could give him a larger tip. I felt pretty bad, given that he probably makes minimum wage and that would be over an hour of work for him (even though I was a student in lots of debt). So I gave him an extra $20 ($25 to cover the pizza’s price and the tip).
I went in and googled it, the delivery people don’t have to pay for the pizza if they are late. Therefore, I got scammed out of my free pizza and the guy got a $25 tip.
20. I just paid $3,000 for Pots and Pans
I was young and in love. We were engaged to get married. We got some thing in the mail about a free cruise if we went to this demonstration. So we think great, honeymoon cruise! Well, it’s a presentation about some very expensive cookware. My fiancé at the time wanted them, I was blinded by love, and they had a payment plan. They even came with a triple lifetime warranty (I could pass them to my kids or something?). I spent $3,000 on pots and pans after the interest. I don’t even know if the company exists still. I got rid of the pots and pans because I got some decent ones that I like better.
Don’t spend $3,000 on it that’s being sold infomercial style in a hotel conference room folks. I promise, you are going to regret as much as I did!
21. The Drama Queen
Last year while attending college I stopped at a store one night to stock up on beer for the night. While I was walking in a woman in a beat up old green car called out to me and asked me to come over to her. She looked like she was on the verge of crying and gave me her sob story about how she was 20 minutes away from home and she ran out of gas but didn’t have enough money to make it back. It was close to Christmas so I handed her all of what I had in my wallet. I said “Merry Christmas” and turned around and left. She didn’t even say thank you… A little fishy, but I just shrugged it off.
Fast forward a year later… I was at the SAME store grabbing; you guessed it, more beer for the night with some friends when the SAME woman in the SAME green car pulled up by us and gave us the exact same story and asked for a few bucks. I told my friends that it was a scam and gave her a dirty look. On our way out I watched her giving the same sob story to a couple of other people and I yelled “shes lying don’t listen to her!” They walked away and the woman (who apparently was out of gas) sped away and gave me the harshest death-stare I’ve even gotten.
22. A Former Employee tricked me!
I was 18 living independently for the first time. There’s this man who knocks on my door, wearing a Blaskin and Lane (auto shop) shirt and hat. He says he has a sheet of coupons for vehicle maintenance discounts valued at $500 for only $150. I write him a check, take my coupons, feeling like a proper adult.
A week later I show up at Blaskin and Lane for an oil change or tire alignment or something, solely because I have these coupons. I show the guy behind the counter my sheet of discounts and he laughs at me while explaining I had been ripped off by a former employee. Sent me on my way!
23. The Beggar is Richer than us. Oops!
We’re pretty decently poor even though my mom was working multiple jobs (because my dad kept stealing all the money out of her account/wallet). One Christmas season, my mom had just bought groceries, got gas, and etc. As she’s pulling out, she sees a really dirty, desperate looking pregnant woman begging for money. My mom knows we can’t afford it, but she gives the woman her last $50 money.
We’re going home, it was traffic. She’s still feeling sorry for the lady so she looks back, considering giving her a ride because it’s starting to snow. She looks back just in time to see the lady wiped her face down and ripped off the pregnant belly prosthetic before getting into her car -the latest Cherry Red Escalade (my mom’s dream car for years). My mom has never given money to a private citizen again.
24. Fake Checks
Picked up a guy who asked me to take out money from my account in exchange for his check (for $20 more). His story was he was out of town, and there wasn’t a bank in the area to cash said check. So, I let this stranger in my car, drove him the bank, and took out the $200 in exchange for check (it was past bank hours so I couldn’t walk in to physically cash check). The whole way he was talking about how grateful he was, and quoting bible verses. I drop him off and go about my day.
Next day, I try to cash it, and sure enough, it’s not even a real check. I was like 16 at the time, but this whole experience lowered my trust in others and overall, made me more cynical. It could have ended worse all things considered, though.
25. Police and FBI Impersonators
A coworker was approached by two people claiming to be police and FBI and needed his help to take out people from a C-Store or some place selling fake iTunes gift cards. They needed him to go buy a hundreds of dollars worth of cards with cash and save the receipt so he can give it to them for proof and reimbursement.
He bought a couple hundred of dollars of them thinking he was in a sting operation. Came back after he did it all to tell us the craziest story. Everyone just stared at him and the you could see it in his eyes when he realized he’d be conned.
26. My Dream Car is still a “Dream”
Ugh. I was maybe 16 at the time when I was starting to look for my first car. Found an ad on Craigslist for a Volkswagen Beetle for $500. Broke 16 year old me saves and hustles all the money she could in order to get this dream car. The scammer wanted me to send the money through one of those places where you send money and cash checks, since I want it so bad, I immediately send the $500. They said they will contact me the very next day.
Then tomorrow came, I was so excited to receive their call and ask them how soon will I receive my dream car. I waited all day and night long, but still didn’t get a call from them. Days and days passed, still haven’t heard anything from them. That’s when I realized that I was scammed. Everyone warned me at the time that I was getting scammed, but 16 year old me was too hard-headed and naive to listen to anyone.
27. Sales Talk
Home Depot has things to test your water for free. They send a salesman to our house with science experiments and magic tricks to show us how terrible our water is. They basically say “I can’t believe you let your kids drink this!” Then they tell us how their water treatment is so different than all of the other stuff, and can filter so much more toxins than anything else. In reality, it’s the run of the mill softeners and RO filter systems, but at 3x the cost. They gave us high pressure sales pitch about how it pays for itself, and then give us until they are done cleaning up to decide.
I am glad we have filtered drinking water and ice now, but I am pissed I didn’t just do it myself and save thousands.
28. Lost Money, No Tickets
I was in Vegas and met a guy on a bus going from Fremont to the Strip. Guy started telling me how he came here for vacation and had gambled away his money and now had nothing. All he had left was two tickets to David Copperfield for the next night and two tickets for a Cirque show the night after that. He had already changed his flight to leave in the morning. Did I want the tickets? of course I agreed. We walked into TI to call the concierge at the Bellagio and get things transferred. He insisted that I make the call but he knew the number. I called and the Bellagio answered. Passed the phone to him. After a brief conversation where he gave them my name and info. He hung up.
Then he asked if I could spare any money at all just to get him by ’til he got out of town the next day. I gave him $30. He asked if I had more. I gave him $50 more. He asked for more. I told him I didn’t have any and we parted ways. There were no tickets waiting for me at the Bellagio or anywhere else. Guy made like $80 for 15 mins work though. That’s more than I make an hour. All I got was pity from the clerk at the Bellagio who had clearly heard this story a million times before.
29. Being nice can be bad sometimes
I was 15. Was chilling at home with my younger sister on a sweltering hot August day. Youngish guy around 20 years old is going door to door selling magazine subscriptions, clearly suffering from the oppressive sun and heat. My clueless self feels bad for him and invites him for a glass of ice water and some celery sticks with peanut butter and raisins that we were snacking on.
I gave that young guy ants on a log, and he still ripped me off for a fake $50 subscription to Wired. To me that was a decent amount of money at the time. But looking back, it was a small price to pay for that lesson. And I can’t help but think that we were actually pretty lucky that nothing worse happened from us inviting a random door to door salesman into our house.
30. Not totally scammed, but tricked!
Dude at the Renaissance Festival, selling ice cream sandwiches: “It’s one for $4.50”. Was about to buy one, he suddenly said “Maybe you want to buy more? I can give you a discount! I can sell you three for only $13.50!”
Me: Okay! I’ll take three!
As I proudly walked away from the ice cream sandwich man to give one ice cream sandwich to my sister, I did the Math just to know how much money I have saved, but then I realized what a horrible mistake I had made. I turned around, but the ice cream sandwich man had already rolled his cart away, forever lost to me in the crowd.
31. Utility Company Imposters
One day, I get a call from “National Grid” telling me they’re sending over an engineer or whatever to cut off our power due to non payment. Once we were removed, it would take a few days to get power reinstated. I guess this was all to create a sense of urgency, and it worked on me. They required payment through prepaid Visa cards. I knew that if I didn’t have power, the store wouldn’t be able to operate so obviously this shook me. I was told to buy the card and give them the number on the card.
I drove out, bought a card and called them back to give the number on the back of the card for $500. BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. Another guy from them called, explaining that PR was meeting with the previous guy that I spoke with saying he was in trouble or whatever because he gave me incorrect information. The amount that was owed was incorrect and I actually owed $1,000 and they would send a check with the $500 I previously gave them, but it would take a few days to arrive.
After I gave them the next $1,000 did I think to call a friend and ask about it, to which they said “that’s obviously a scam” but it was too late. I lost $1,500 for the most expensive life lesson I’ve ever had: when it comes to business, trust no one. And not be retarded enough to pay $1,500 to a “utility company” using prepaid Visa cards.
32. Some Desperate ”Donation” Scammers
My family and I went on a nice trip to Paris for the summer, everything was going great until we went to the Eiffel Tower. These two girls approached me and my brother as we were walking around and talking to each other. One of them asked “Hey? Do you guys speak English?” And then I responded with “yes we do” she then came up to us and showed us a clip board that had a section to write your name, address, postal code and many more personal stuff. That’s a huge red flag but I did not think much of it at the time.
Apparently they were trying to raise money for people with disabilities, so I gave in and reached into my pockets for some money. I pulled out about $50 and they took it straight from my hands. At this point I’m finding that these girls are kind of weird, but hey at least I’m donating money for a better cause, right? She then starts to pat down my pockets saying “do you have anymore left?!” Now at this point this seems fishy so I push this girl off of me and look to my brother to see what’s up with him. He got his money jacked too. I look back at the girls who just scammed us and I could see them quickly walking away. I then look back at where the girls previously were and they disappeared into the huge crowed of tourists. Probably searching for their next victim. Me and my brother lost a total of $150.
33. Karma has been served!
When I was a kid I kept seeing this infomercial for a speed reading course. I asked my mom to order it for me; she called and they said it was $500. She was like um it’s $500 I’m not getting it for you.
Anyway, a month or so later I got her to call again and this time they said $75 or something, so she ordered it for me. Needless to say, it wasn’t even worth that much. But here’s the kicker. I looked up the guy who was selling the product about a year ago. Turns out, he’s a huge con artist and has been jailed and sued for it (to the tune of like $35 million).
34. Sell Scams
Not me but this just happened to my mom. She was in the Walgreens parking lot when a guy offers to sell her a stereo system. It’s in a box, he has a bunch in his van and there is an electronics store name on the van. She asks him how much and he says $800. Mom tells him she doesn’t have that kind of money and then jokingly suggests $100. Not only does he NOT laugh at her, he accepts her offer. She then gives him $100 and takes her stereo.
Fast forward a couple hours and she’s texting me asking me if the stereo was any good and she tells me the story. And the moment she tells me he offered it for $800 and she got it for a hundred I told her she got scammed. Like who would give a discount that big?! Later she opened the box and there was no receiver inside.
35. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Back in highschool after I got my first job. I discovered the Ebay and how cheap CD’s were. In my browsing, one day I discovered someone was selling PlayStation 3’s and Xbox 360’s for $3 a piece! I quickly bought 10 of each. I believed as hard as I could for about 3 months before I finally gave up hope.
Turns out after a much closer observation of the posting it said in the item description “not actually for sale do not buy copy and paste this link into your browser and enter for a chance to win!” If I could burn every ad company to the ground with the snap of my fingers I would not hesitate.