29 People On Scams That You Should Be Aware Of (So You Can Avoid Them In The Future)

image - Flickr / Dave Nicoll
image – Flickr / Dave Nicoll

Found on r/AskReddit.

The views and opinions expressed in this compilation do not reflect the opinions of Thought Catalog.

1. Don’t swallow tapeworms

There is no weight loss substitute for exercise and healthy eating. Nothing is as sustainable, as healthy and as effective. No matter what any of the drug advertising companies say.

2. They bait you

If you are young male and travelling in a foreign country:

1. You are approached by foreign girls who say they want to improve their English or they want to meet to show you their art. You, single and in hormonal flush, agree.

2. You meet at bar that is suggested. You buy drinks. The girls make conversation. 15/20 minutes in, the girls leave.

3. You get a bill, except its for a hundred times what you’d expect to pay. You make to leave except there is a big guy standing at the door who won’t leave until you pay.

Heard so many stories from luckless horny friends who’ve been on the wrong end of this scam. Not me luckily as I have a face like a bucket of smashed crabs.

I’m British, not American, and this happened to friends travelling in China, Slovakia, and Uruguay.

3. Useless degrees

Those schools like DeVry and ITT Tech where you pay to get a useless degree.

4. Classic

“Hey, do you have the time?”

*Take out your phone to check*

Mugged.

5. I still don’t know what Vemma is

Vemma is in America now and it’s the biggest fucking scam I’ve ever seen. they are lying to college kids brainwashing them into thinking that they can actually make money by selling this energy drink (verve) to other people so those people can try to sell it. They pitch it as starting your own business and tell them that if they end up moving X amount of product we’ll “pay for you to finance a car” in which they give you $400 a month to use on whatever you want but they pretty much plant the idea in your head that you need to get a Range Rover, Audi, BMW etc. and have vemma stickers covering it.

But when someone you’re flipping Vemma products for “business” goes under because someone they were selling to can’t afford it anymore (or any situation in which your “network” isn’t meeting the quota to be eligible for the MONTHLY stipend) they stop giving you that $400 a month that they’ve convinced you to use on a high end car and you’re still responsible for the payments… With no income…
I could go on for days but basically this is a huge problem on college campuses and it doesn’t get nearly enough attention.

6. Sometimes generic works

Probably not as common, but I work in a pharmacy so here’s my two cents.

Brand name does not mean better. There are basically only three drugs (one class) where it matters a bit more that you get brand over generic. They’re synthroid, Coumadin, the epilepsy drugs. And it’s not even that the brand is better, it’s just that since those drugs have a very narrow therapeutic range of effect, we want to make sure you stay stable and generics can vary slightly in potency. (Edit since there was confusion, there is no issue if you take generics of the ones listed above, they’re just as effective, just that you don’t want to switch back and forth from generic to brand)

For any other drug, your body does not care enough if you take generic.

There are exceptions if you’re allergic to an inactive ingredient, but generally everyone is fine on a generic.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but the general rule of thumb is you’re going to be fine on a generic.

7. Be wary of “donations”

I work in a bank, some scammers will test whether your card works by making a £5 donation to a charity which can be done on atms. If this works they will slowly start to empty your account by buying vouchers from supermarkets. If you see a charitable donation you didn’t make investigate it immediately.

8. Don’t tailgate

I’ve heard of this one but haven’t ever seen it:

You’re driving, say in the right lane and a crappy looking car gets in front of you while another crappy looking car sits in your blind spot on your left side. The car in front slows down little by little until you’re annoyed and possibly tailgating them (setting the trap). He then slams on the brakes and stops short giving you either the choice of rear ending him or swerving into his buddy. Either way you hit a junker of a car and he asks for cash to not report it to the insurance.

Ways to avoid: Don’t tailgate. Pretty simple; follow at a safe distance.

If you do rear end/swerve into the car just report it to the insurance. A lot of times these people don’t have insurance, and if they do they might not see any of the money and their rates will go up either way, you’ll still have to pay and your rates will go up, but at least the scammer didn’t get off free.

9. Those U-Haul trucks

A U-Haul reservation isn’t reserving an actual vehicle for you; it’s just putting you in their system as someone who wants a vehicle. And their “reservation guarantee” is a scam (since there’s always a truck two states over you could use, but of course you’d have to pay for the extra mileage).

10. Apparently, Avis sucks

I reserved a compact car with Avis because it was cheap and had great gas mileage. When I got there, they said they didn’t have any compact cars left. They’d upgrade me for free to an SUV (which would cost more in gas than the actual rental) or I could pay a lot more for a hybrid which would get good gas mileage. That’s a textbook bait-and-switch. I had no choice – I was hundreds of miles from home and needed a car. Fuck Avis.

Avis does some other sketchy shit too. If you use their FastPass toll device, they charge you something like $8 a day (on top of the toll charges) for the entire rental period, even if you use it only once. And if you drive the car less than 75 miles, fill it up, and don’t get a receipt from the gas station, they charge you to fill up the tank – yup, the already full tank! Their logic is that if you drive it less than 75 miles, they can’t tell if the needle on the gas gauge moved (and if you don’t have a receipt, you can’t prove that you filled it) so they need to fill it up to make sure. Meanwhile, they’ll rent you a car with only 3/4 of a tank. Seriously, Fuck Avis!

11. Apparently Avis sucks even more

My husband and I rented a car from Avis this past year to go on a nice trip out on the countryside. He has a login for his corporate account, but paid with his personal credit card (this detail will matter later). So we get the car, all is great, and when we arrive at a supermarket to get food for the cabin, the air in the tire is low. No matter, we refill the tire and go on our way. Three days later of no driving, we need to get some fishing equipment from the town nearby. The tire was completely flat.

I helped him change the tire and put the spare on, while calling Avis and letting them know that we have a flat. The operator said the nearest Avis service station was an hour and a half away (and 55 miles from where we were), yet she also stated that we could only go 45 miles on the spare. So she arranged for a flatbed to come and drop off a new Avis car, free of charge (something, something, roadside assistance). We signed the papers once the truck got there and thought everything was clear.

Then, a couple of weeks after we came home, Avis tried to post a charge on his credit card, saying that we never paid for insurance for that service. Strange. We fought it, lost against Avis, and finally called Visa to cancel the unauthorized charge. Then they tried to charge his corporate credit card ($400, almost the same cost as the rental for the “free roadside assistance”), which we never used in the transaction in the first place! (Yet it was the card registered with the login, so they thought it was okay). Of course, the corporate card being Amex didn’t take no shit and won.

Fuck Avis.

12. Don’t be stupid, okay?

Usually when someone who contacts your house claiming to be someone from a government agency or Microsoft it is just a lead up to a scam.

Just always ask for some kind of identification and sometimes googling the phone number can lead you somewhere.

13. This is really scary

Credit card scam. You get a call from someone claiming to be your credit card company. They say someone has been using your card. They have all your info and they tell you what it is. They have your name, address, cc# and maybe even last 4 of your social. What they don’t have is your CVV # (3 digit code on the back) and that’s what they are after. They ask for the CVV to verify you are still in possession of your credit card. You give it to them and that’s what they need to run up your card online.

14. The more you know!

If they say ‘it’s not a pyramid scheme’ it is.

If you have to pay to work there, you are a customer not an employee.

15. World Ventures

There’s a pyramid scheme that’s been going around my area the last year or so. It’s called World Ventures, basically disguises itself as a discount travel club. It’s legal since they sell a tangible product, but the business itself is extremely shady and gets sued all the time. They usually prey on college students, stay at home moms and returning veterans.

16. I never did trust those people

Door To Door magazine sales. While some of these are legitimate, I got scammed out of 40-50 bucks about 7 years ago. Kid came up to my door, I saw there was a white van down the end of the street, and about 10-15 kids got out of it. This one particular kid stopped at my door, gave me a pitch about how they were selling magazines to build a fund that would send them all to college, I thought to myself, why not help this kid out. This kid was about 16-17, had an ID badge that said he worked for some charity or something, and he could offer me budget subscriptions, more than half off the price if I were to subscribe through the actual magazines website. I signed up for Maxim, Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords, and two or three others. Never received those magazines. Talked to my neighbor down the street that signed up for 1 magazine, and he never received his either.

17. This is an evil, evil scam

I was visiting at my grandma’s house when she got scammed. Got a call at about 9 PM from somebody claiming to be the police. “Yes, your grandson was in a car accident while driving drunk. He’s here at the police station, and this is his phone call, I’ll put him on.” Her “grandson” gets on the phone… “Grandma? Sorry my voice sounds funny, I broke my nose in the wreck… I’m in jail, can you pay my bail?” Grandma was hysterical. She didn’t have the money to pay the “bail” they were asking for, and she was calling relatives left and right trying to pull some money together to get him out. In a last-ditch effort, she called her grandson’s cell phone, and he picked up, perfectly fine, wondering why she was calling so late.

Needless to say, we called the police, but they couldn’t trace the number. Disgusting how they took advantage of an old lady like that. I thought she would have a heart attack.
TL;DR: Don’t pay anyone’s bail unless you KNOW they’re in jail.

18. Amway ruins lives

When I was a kid, my mom and stepdad got into Amway. Overnight, all my normal toothpaste, deodorant, hair gel went away and were replaced by the Amway shitty version. For a kid that was going through puberty and was having a hard time with acne and oily skin, this was a disaster. I had tried out products for months until I found the right ones that wouldn’t affect my skin. They were all thrown out as they believed the whole family needed to be on board with their great Amway adventure.

At some point or another they started hitting up my friends parents and trying to get they to buy into Amway under my mom & stepdad. It ruined several friendships for me. Kids were no longer allowed to come and hang out at my house because my mom and stepdad would harass them about if they had heard anything from my parents.

Eventually, I stopped visiting my mom’s house and went to live at my dad’s full time. Did Amway cause that? No. But it sure didn’t help anything. It was a big wedge between my stepdad and myself for 10+ years until they finally gave up pushing Amway on everyone (or ran out of people to push it on).

19. Locks of love is a scam?!

Locks of love. They sell the hair they get for tens of millions then only donate a few hundred wigs a year.

20. Target: People with fanny packs

When I was in Mexico for a vacation, it was late at night and some kids (10ish in age) come up to me with stuff to sell. Basically the stuff was in this rectangle box, kind of like the top drawer of a desk with a neck strap on it. I am wearing a fanny pack to keep all my junk in, Id, money, hotel key, etc. So the kid comes up to me and presses the box to my stomach and says do I want to buy anything and shows me what’s in the box. Meanwhile, while he is talking, the little shit has his hands unzipping my fanny pack trying to steal from me. Of course you don’t notice because he has that box ontop of it. I was lucky and did notice and scared the little shits away. My fanny pack was almost all the way unzipped when I did notice it. It was very eye opening and wondered how many people that little fucktard stole from.

21. Crime scene cleanup companies

After a tragedy, where you have a 1000 things on your mind (grieving, taking care of those left behind, funeral arrangements. etc) you call up a clean-up company. They come talk a great game, assure you that they’ve contacted the home owners insurance and everything is taken care of. Have you sign off on some “standard” paper work. Prices are outrageous, can easily go a into the tens of thousands…but you think ok…thank god for insurance. They finish, a couple days go by and you find out your insurance company was never contacted by them and those papers you signed have you agreeing to take on all the costs, and you end up with a lien against your house.

Happened to my family after a murder and we’re currently dealing with it in court. thankfully our fed up homeowners insurance company is tired of dealing with it and leading the way. Never even crossed our minds at the time, but it happens way more than you realize. Yes, looking more closely at the paperwork/ contacting insurance company yourself would help prevent it, though that’s easier said than done when your world was just turned upside down.

22. Oho! Now I’ve got you

That line in the cap you fill your liquid laundry detergent to? Not the real line. Take a closer look. The real lines are very faint. Most people are fooled into using about twice as much soap as they should be.

23. You don’t even have to apply for it!

[Retracted]

24. Adult websites are far more sophisticated than you’ve ever thought

I worked for a series of adult dating websites, that you had to pay monthly or yearly for a membership. You could get Gold, Silver, Bronze, and you would be able to view unlimited profiles, and send a certain amount of messages, as well as gain access to all affiliated porn sites. When you sign up for the trial, you are bombarded with inbox messages from lots of hot girls wanting to meet you. Since you are a basic member, you are unable to send messages, only receive them. This prompts lonely horny guys to whip out their credit cards, and pay the $40 in hopes they can sign on and meet up with these hotties. Of course, the women come up with every excuse under the sun as to why they can’t meet. These women are actually in house accounts, and will never ever meet them. This one senile old man actually spent thousands of dollars opening multiple gold accounts, because each time he did, a new flood of “hot girls” were talking to him. It’s not even that all of these girls were OBVIOUS either or looked like porn stars. Many of the photos chosen for these fake accounts are strategically chosen to look like real, normal women (some of which are kind of even unattractive). It was just a massive scam and the company made millions and millions a year, which is why our benefits and pay were so good.

Another one to watch out for is cam sites. I worked for a website as a “cam girl”, but not the kind that performs. Nope. A room full of women on computers, in control of pre-recorded videos loops of porn stars, talking dirty with our personalized canned responses. Our goal was to get as many men into private chat as possible, so we can make money. The videos have exact looping points so that you can control the girl on cams movements. Every time the model looks down at her keyboard and is typing, you are typing dirty to the men. You can NOT type when the girl is masturbating or stripping because it blows your cover. The most fucked up part about this was that we had logs on each customer, so we could make notes about things he likes, so that when another girl used that model and the dude pops up, she knows what to say and “remembers things about him” ie. loves when she plays with her titties, is a single dad, lives in british columbia etc. A lot of these men would actually believe they were in relationships with some of these women, and it was sad. I personally hated working for this company because most of the girls that worked there were miserable, morbidly obese and really bitchy (THESE are the girls you are ACTUALLY talking to if you’re paying for one of those cam sites). I have actually been a cam model before as well, so there ARE some sites where the girls are real. Just be weary of overuse of emoticons “haha, lollllll omggg im so wet :):)” stupid bullshit like that, and if they don’t have a mic, or can’t verify at all.

TLDR; a lot of sex dating websites and cam websites are a HUGE scam.

25. Be really careful when you’re at a hotel!

If you’re ever staying at a hotel and you get a call saying “Hi, this is the front desk. It seems we’ve had a problem running your credit card. No need to come to the desk, just read me the number” ignore what they said, say “I’ll just come down to the desk” and take your card down to ask the front desk. The scammers call the hotel and ask for a random room number (can you put me through to room 205?) and most hotel people just go “Sure! [transfer]” without confirming a last name or anything.

26. Triangulation scheme

There is a triangulation scheme that is pretty common,using Amazon and Ebay. What happens:

You go to eBay or any other online retailer where you see the item you want to buy. However, it seems to be at a shockingly low price. You take the risk and buy the item. A week later, you item arrives from Amazon (?). You are confused, because you bought it on eBay, not Amazon–but you don’t care, you got your item at a great price!

How it works: Fraudsters have realized that they put themselves at risk when ordering things to themselves using compromised/stolen credit cards. Instead, what they do is that they find a mark (you). They use a stolen credit card to buy the item off Amazon and send it to you after you purchased it from them on eBay (hence the term, triangulation). They take your money and run. By the time the person with the stolen credit card is aware of unauthorized charges, the Fraudster has gotten your money and is long gone. Meanwhile, you are sitting at home enjoying an item obtained through stolen money.

Law enforcement usually does not come after you, because you were just a customer acting bona fide who got duped. But this generates a lot of headaches for Amazon, the credit card companies, and the person who’s card got stolen.

Please, if the deals sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true (or at least legit).

27. Propane takes are sold by WEIGHT

Propane is sold by weight, not by volume. That tank connected to your BBQ is designed to hold 20 pounds of liquid propane. Those vending machines outside your local big box home center store may seem like a good deal. Until you read the label and the tank is only filled with 15 pounds of propane. The tank is only 3/4 full. It’s all legal because the correct weight is on the label. Always find a store that will refill your tank to a full 20 pounds.

28. This is an elaborate scam

My wife received a call that was in Spanish, I’m a Mexican/American with a lot of Spanish only speaking family members. So she hands me the phone and says it’s your family in CA.

I take the call to someone calling me “Chuy” a nickname for Jesus. He’s super nice calling me cousin. I ask who it is and he replies “you don’t recognize my voice, it has been a while since we’ve seen each other, which of your cousins do you think would be calling you?” Now I have tons of cousins and I’m starting to feel a little bad because I can’t tell which one it is, I sort feel like it could be Gabriel, so I say “Gabriel.”

Yup. Nailed it. He starts to explain that he is in Portland OR and on his way up to see me. I get super excited because I haven’t seen him in a long time and none of my cousins have come up to see me. He offers to buy me anything I want in OR because there is no sales tax. He tells me he’ll be here in about two hours.

I tell him that I’m going to call my mom and dad so we can all hang out together. He thought it would be best to surprise them, he tells me he’ll stop and buy beer and meat so we can grill and have a good dinner.

It may seem a bit weird that someone would just drop in on you but my Hispanic family is notorious for this so it doesn’t seem too far out of character. This was the day before Easter and we already had 22 people coming over so we began preparing for a couple more.

Then I get another call about 45 minutes later stating that my “cousin” got into an accident and will be later than anticipated. He proceeds to explain that a motorcycle cut him off and that to avoid hitting the biker he turned right into another car. Apparently, his insurance just expired but the person he hit is willing to work out a payment so they don’t involve the cops.

My cousin explains that he has a large check but it is post dated for Monday. He asks if I’ll just talk to the guy he hit so that I can tell him my cousin is good for it. Now I’m starting to think something is up, but sure I’ll talk to the guy.

He puts the old guy on the phone who tells me that they are at a Bank Of America and they confirmed that the check was good but that they would cash it because it was post dated for Monday, and it was currently Saturday. The call got disconnected.

I got a return call moments later and my cousin starts saying that he feels really bad asking but, can I please help him out and he’ll pay me back on Monday, plus a grand for my troubles. I’m in total high alert at this point and ask him how I could possibly help since I’m 2 hours away. He proceeds to explain that the guy he hit has to catch a plane to Mexico but that I can wire the money to his daughter there. As soon as they confirm, they’ll let my cousin go and he’ll be on his way up to see me.

So then I ask my cousin his full name. He answers, I ask him his moms name, he then starts asking why I’m asking so many questions and “come on, just help me out.” I ask my uncle, his dad’s name. Then he just hangs up.

I was totally bummed that he wasn’t actually coming up, I felt so lied to. I’m pretty sure this dude was in Mexico and I wonder how often the scam actually works. I’m pretty sure when my wife handed me the phone she said my name and that it was my family in CA, which was just enough information to get the scam going.

29. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Anytime anyone tries to sell you something unsolicited, whether it’s in-person, by mail, or digitally, just say “no.” There’s no magic deal fairy that’s looking out for your best needs, that’s going to fall from the sky and conveniently going to present you with something you want or need. TC mark

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