Five Ways Criminals Con You Out of Your Cash

If you have money, scammers have a way to take it from you. Con artists talk about getting their victims so emotionally charged up that they are unable to think logically. They call it "under the ether," and it is how they play on hope, fear and empathy to defraud their victims.

Find out how to protect yourself from five common scams with staying power.

  1. Sweetheart. Savvy scammers do their homework, tailoring their false identity to target their victims, and often hiding behind deceptively normal profile pictures. Most victims are boomer age or older, and suffer major financial losses - an average of $10,000 per person - in addition to the embarrassment and heartbreak of an emotional swindle.  Know the warning signs.
  2. Gold. How many times have you heard that the only thing you can rely on during a recession is the price of gold? Ads capitalize on this 'common' knowledge and sell coins at an outrageous markup that buyers will never be able to recover. Learn more about investment scams.
  3. Grandparents. Though this scam has been around for years, it persists thanks to the personalized touch: details gleaned from online profiles ... and obituaries. Someone claiming to be a grandchild calls with a tale of arrest or hospitalization outside of the United States, and is in desperate need of quick cash, usually in the form of a wire transfer. Check out four easy tips to protect yourself.
  4. Sweepstakes. It is probably one of the most common scams, and has cost victims millions of dollars. The pitch is simple and irresistible: You've won! Just pay the small processing fee! Though there has been an increase in foreign lottery scams, a recent sweepstakes scam in California raked in nearly $11 million.  Find out how to read the fine print.
  5. Disaster charities. Count on it - every time there is a major natural disaster somewhere in the world, there are scammers coming out of the woodwork to separate you from your money, all under the guise of helping. Make sure you help the true victims, and avoid becoming one yourself.


Visit the  AARP Fraud Watch Network for resources and information, and  sign up for alerts on the latest scams.


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