Top 10 List of Scams of 2016

There are many ways to measure the largest scams, but most measure them by the number of people affected and the total dollars scammed.

Our list focuses on the scams that you could avoid, those reported to the CFR, FTC, and BBB (Better Business Bureau). For detailed explanations of each scam, how to report a scammer and how to protect yourself, click on the blue titles below for more information! To see federal and select state top 10 scam lists, click here.

And to see a list of other type of top 10 scams, such as by category, or targeting specific groups, see this page.

1. Internet merchandise scams
You purchase something online, but it is either never delivered or it is not what they claimed it was, or is defective.
2. Phishing/Spoofing Emails
Emails that pretend to be from a company, organization or government agency but ask you to enter or confirm your personal information
3. Fake Prizes, Sweepstakes, Free Gifts, Lottery Scams
You receive an email claiming you won a prize, lottery or gift, and you only have to pay a “small fee” to claim it or cover “handling costs”. These include scams which can go under the name of genuine lotteries like the UK National Lottery and the El Gordo Spanish lottery. Unsolicited email or telephone calls tell people they are being entered or have already been entered into a prize draw. Later, they receive a call congratulating them on winning a substantial prize in a national lottery. But before they can claim their prize, they are told they must send money to pay for administration fees and taxes. The prize, of course, does not exist. No genuine lottery asks for money to pay fees or notifies it’s winners via email.
4. Fake check payments
You sell something online or through Craig’s List Consumers and you’re paid with phony checks, and instructed to
wire money back to buyer. The check looks real… but after you try to cash it, you find out it is a fake; and you’re arrested for passing a counterfeit check! Read more about scam checks on this page and here about the EBay check scam.
5. Recovery/Refund Companies
A scammer contacts and claims you owe money on a debt or the scammer offers to recover money lost in a previous scam
6. Loans Scams / Credit Fixers
False promises of business or personal loans, even if credit is bad, for a fee upfront. Or a scam that promises to repair your credit for a fee.
7. Computer Performance Scams: Equipment and Software
Scammers claim to offer technical support for computer problems and charge a fee to fix nonexistent problems
8. Scholarship, Student Loan and Financial Aid scams
for a fee, a research company offers to conduct a customized search for scholarships or grants for students to apply for. Scammers take the money and run or provide a worthless list
9. Online Dating Scams
Fake profiles of scammers posing as attractive men and women, then claiming they need money to help in an emergency, typically when they claim to be out of the country on a business trip.
10. Facebook Fake Friend Scam – Did you ever get a Friend Request on Facebook from someone you already thought was your Friend? If you hit Accept, you may have just friended a scammer. Con artist nurtures an online relationship, builds trust, and convinces victim to send money.
And here are the next dozen most common scams:
11. Click Bait Scam – This one takes many forms, but many people may recall seeing those using Robin Williams death or the Malaysian Airline plane that went missing (click here for video). Other click bait schemes use celebrity images, fake news, and other sensational stories to get you to unknowingly download malware.
12. Fake bills and invoices – “Pro forma” invoicing: You get a bill that looks real, but either you never ordered the product or service, or they’re not really the company you bought it from.
13. Tech Support Scam: You get a call or a pop-up on your computer claiming to be from Microsoft (or Norton, or Apple) about a problem on your computer. They say if you give tech support access to your hard drive, they can fix it. Instead, they install malware on your computer and start stealing your personal information.
14. Medical Alert Scam – This is a telemarketing scam that promises a ‘free’ medical alert system, that scam targeted seniors and caretakers. The robocalls claimed to be offering the medical alert devices and system free of charge because a family member or friend had already paid for it. In many cases, seniors were asked to provide their bank account or credit information to ‘verify’ their identity and, as a result, were charged the monthly $35 service fee. The system, of course, never arrived and the seniors were left with a charge they had trouble getting refunded. Easy rule of thumb – be wary of ‘free’ offers that require your personal information upfront and always verify with the supposed friend or family member that the caller says paid for the service.
15. EBay / Auction Reseller Scam – Scammers posing as buyers persuade sellers into shipping goods prior to receiving payment. Usually the fake buyer claims it’s an ’emergency’ like a child’s birthday and asks the seller to ship the same day. The seller receives an email that appears as though it came from PayPal for the payment, but emails like that are easy for scammers to fake.
16. Arrest Warrant Scam – Scammers create a fake Caller ID, which allows them to call you and appear to be calling from a local police, sheriff or other law enforcement agency. They say there is a warrant out for your arrest, but that you can pay a fine in order to avoid criminal charges. Of course, these scammers don’t take credit cards; only a Western Union MoneyGram, other wire transfer or pre-paid debit card will do.
17. Invisible Home Improvements – In addition to email, mail and phone, scammers now just show up at your door. Scammers posing as home improvement contractors come door-to-door sale and target seniors, those who live alone, and victims of weather-related disasters are common targets
18. Casting Call Scam – Scammers pose as agents or talent scouts looking for actors, singers, models, reality show contestants, etc., and use phony audition notices to fool aspiring performers into paying to try out for parts that don’t exist.
19. Foreign Currency Scam – Investments in foreign currency can sound like a great idea, and scammers frequently use real current events and news stories to make their pitches even more appealing. They advertise an easy investment with high return and low risk when you purchase Iraqi Dinar, Vietnamese Dong or, most recently, the Egyptian Pound. The plan is that, when those governments revalue their currencies, increasing their worth against the dollar, you just sell and cash in. Unlike previous hoaxes, you may even take possession of real currency. The problem is that they will be very difficult to sell, and it’s extremely unlikely they will ever significantly increase in value.
20. Scam Text Messages – It looks like a text alert from your bank, asking you to confirm information or ‘reactivate your debit card’ by following a link on your smart phone. But it is just a way to steal personal information
21. Do Not Call Scams – The National Do Not Call Registry (U.S.) or the National Do Not Call List (Canada) offer consumers a free way to reduce telemarketing calls. Scammers call anyway, of course, and they’ve even found a way to scam consumers by pretending to be a government official calling to sign you up or confirming your previous participation on the Dot Not call list!
22. Affordable Care Act Scams (Obamacare) – Scammers love the Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’), using it as a way to fool Americans into sharing their personal information.

Support for the Advocacy Network

I wanted to share a brief history of the Advocacy Network. For those of you who don’t know me I have spent over 35 years in the sales profession. During that experience I have worked in the Financial Services industry, Luxury Resort RE industry and the Sales Training industry. Throughout my experience I have learned how predatory sales tactics are used and also how scams and frauds are designed and perpetrated. For the most part many of the same techniques and psychological manipulations are used. Because of this I felt a fervent commit to expose these techniques and provide protection for consumers, investors and businesses who were unwittingly at risk to the cons, scams and frauds that were in the marketplace.
In order to that I needed to create a platform that would educate, update and make the public aware of what was happening. For almost 4 years I provided FREE memberships which accumulated approx. 12,000 members. We were able to save those members in excess of $5M, and to date we continue to provide these protections to those who appreciate the value of our work.
Now, I have created the service to go full blown as a paid membership service so that we can dominate the market place and service the middle class and mass affluent markets. Please understand that almost 1/2T dollars is lost every year to scams ,fraud and predatory sales tactics. If this market was an industry it would be in the top 10 of industry sales. That’s how much money is lost every year to financial victimization and everyone who reads this has been victimized at least once in their lifetime, sadly we know the stats show that average victims are 3x repeat offenders. This is all due to being unaware of the psychological triggers that continue to expose you to the risk of financial victimization everyday.

I am offering a way for you to get a LIFETIME premium membership to the Advocacy Network. This is a $1080 annual value and you will be protected for all forms of financial victimization. Simply support us and help us to stop Financial Victimization for ever! Get a LIFETIME founders Membership

I look forward to working with you and your family to ensure your financial future. Let us help you make smart decisions about money.

YOUR Best Interest is OUR Only Concern!

State Warns Residents of W-2 Scam

State officials are issuing a warning about a W-2 phishing scheme that is targeting employees and even chief financial officers in an attempt to obtain sensitive personal information that can be used to commit tax fraud.
Attorney General George Jepsen, Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris are warning consumers because hackers and cybercriminals are using a system that mimics employer’s email, often appearing as a request directly from the Chief Executive Officer, asking for the employee’s W-2s.
W-2 forms have sensitive personal information, including Social Security numbers, full names and addresses, which can be sold or used for identity theft and financial fraud.
W-2s give an identity thief almost everything they would need to commit tax fraud.
Scammers targeting taxpayers by pretending to be the Internal Revenue Service are nothing new, and taxpayers should always stay vigilant, officials said.
The W-2-themed phishing schemes directed at businesses are becoming more prevalent and organizations have been warning their employees to be wary of them, especially when filing their taxes, state officials said.
Between October 2013 and August 2015 scams referred to “business email compromise,” exposed nearly $750 million in 2015 to scammers, according to the FBI.
“Hardly a week goes by that my office doesn’t hear about a scheme where hackers or scam artists attempt to gain access to personal information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and bank accounts,” Jepsen said in a statement. “Cybercriminals have begun to use sophisticated attempts to obtain this information as this W-2 phishing scheme demonstrates, while others may search garbage cans, use misleading emails or fake Web sites, or even just look over an unsuspecting consumer’s shoulder.”
Commissioner Sullivan said criminals this year are posing as the IRS and DRS are even more aggressively out to steal taxpayer record information and taxpayer identities.
If your business was targeted or has fallen victim to this scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
If you are worried that a call or email from the IRS is real because you know you owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040 or go to Fraudulent emails purporting to be from the IRS should be forwarded to
If you become a target of this scam, file a consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at, and add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your complaint.
If you have questions, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Privacy and Data Security Department at 860-808-5440, the Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649 or the Department of

IRS Warns of New Phishing Scheme Involving W-2s


The Internal Revenue Service issued an alert Tuesday to payroll and human resources professionals to beware of an emerging phishing email scheme that purports to come from company executives and requests personal information on employees.
The IRS said it has learned this scheme—part of the surge in phishing emails seen this year—already has claimed several victims as payroll and human resources offices mistakenly email payroll data, including Forms W-2 that contain Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information, to cybercriminals posing as company executives.
“This is a new twist on an old scheme using the cover of the tax season and W-2 filings to try tricking people into sharing personal data,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “Now the criminals are focusing their schemes on company payroll departments. If your CEO appears to be emailing you for a list of company employees, check it out before you respond. Everyone has a responsibility to remain diligent about confirming the identity of people requesting personal information about employees.”
IRS Criminal Investigation already is reviewing several cases in which people have been tricked into sharing SSNs with what turned out to be cybercriminals. Criminals using personal information stolen elsewhere seek to monetize data, including by filing fraudulent tax returns for refunds.
This phishing variation is known as a “spoofing” email. It will contain, for example, the actual name of the company chief executive officer. In this variation, the “CEO” sends an email to a company payroll office employee and requests a list of employees and information including SSNs.
The following are some of the details contained in the e-mails:
• Kindly send me the individual 2015 W-2 (PDF) and earnings summary of all W-2 of our company staff for a quick review
• Can you send me the updated list of employees with full details (Name, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Home Address, Salary) as at 2/2/2016.
• I want you to send me the list of W-2 copy of employees wage and tax statement for 2015, I need them in PDF file type, you can send it as an attachment. Kindly prepare the lists and email them to me asap.
The IRS noted that it recently renewed a wider consumer alert for e-mail schemes after seeing an approximate 400 percent surge in phishing and malware incidents so far this tax season and other reports of scams targeting others in a wider tax community.
The emails are designed to trick taxpayers into thinking these are official communications from the IRS or others in the tax industry, including tax software companies. The phishing schemes can ask taxpayers about a wide range of topics. E-mails can seek information related to refunds, filing status, confirming personal information, ordering transcripts and verifying PIN information.
The IRS, state tax agencies and tax industry have joined together in a public awareness campaign – Taxes. Security. Together. – to encourage taxpayers and tax professionals to do more to protect personal, financial and tax data. See or Publication 4524 for additional steps.

Like taking candy from a baby.
Like taking candy from a baby.