Scams have been around for centuries. They have over time become more advanced, deceptive, and common. Scams prey on a person’s good-hearted nature or vulnerability.

It is therefore important to keep your guard up. Below is a list of the top common online scams. If you’re aware of these scams, you’re a lot less likely to fall for them.

Popular Scams


Usually poses as an attractive young man or woman and prey on someone older. To catch these types of scammers take a close look at their profiles. There is something definitely odd about a display of exaggerated flattery from someone 15 or 20 years younger than you.

If the photo appears too good to be true; do a google image search of their photos if they turn up elsewhere they’re likely a scammer. If they flatter you nonstop, they’re probably a scammer.

The male scammers are often located in West Africa, while the female scammers are mostly from the eastern parts of Europe, Asia, and Latin America as well as West Africa.

The standard scam story then starts to unfold as your online date suddenly starts requesting gifts, credit card information or has some sort of emergency. The stories may range from a businessman having an accident while in Nigeria for work to a helpless woman being stranded in Ghana; from asking for charity donations for Africa to a family member having a brain hemorrhage while in Africa etc.

At the end of the day they all have the same basic plot – there is an emergency and won’t you please send them some money?

2. THE 419 SCAMS

Probably one of the oldest and most popular Internet scams used. It is also known as “Nigerian 419”. A typical Nigerian scam involves an email, letter, text message or message coming from a scammer who needs your help in retrieving a large sum of money from a bank. A common variation is a woman in Africa who claimed that her husband had died and that she has inherited millions of dollars of his estate.

They will promise you a large cut of the fortune. All you are asked to do is cover the endless “legal” and other “fees” that must be paid to have the fortune released.

Rest assured, once you pay that’s the last you’ll hear of them and your cash


This is the most common internet and email scams today. A “phishing” email tricks you into sharing your login details — your username and password — through convincing emails and links to web pages.

The common guise for phishing these days seems to be to “confirm your identity”. You might receive emails pretending to be from your bank, Paypal, eBay asking you to click on a link so you can confirm your identity. But this link does not lead to the actual website but will instead redirect you to a fake website cloned to look like the original. This information in the hands of scammers puts you at risk of potentially losing thousands of dollars.


This scam threatens to expose the recipient to everybody in their contacts list, for viewing pornographic online content or partaking in intimate acts unless a fee is paid.

That’s why it’s not safe to provide any sensitive or personal information about you on social media channels.


This is a common ploy used by Russian and Filipino scammers to rob you off your money. The general storyline is she will want to come visit you but does not have enough money and will ask you to send her money to help pay for the plane ticket and/or visa. Once you do send the money however, it is unlikely that the visit will ever actually materialize.

As many people are now catching on to this, many scammers are trying variations of the same scam. Instead of asking you to send them money for their ticket, they will instead send you scanned copies of a ticket to convince you they are genuine and are really coming to visit you. They do not ask for money to buy the ticket or even for visa expenses… leading you to believe they are real.

However, there is usually a last minute glitch and they will request you to send them a large amount of money without which the trip will be impossible. These scammers know immigration rules and regulations well and might even cite some sort of visa requirement as their reason for requesting money. You might find their reasons actually check out and send them the money but in all likelihood, you have been scammed of your money.


Another common scam one comes across in online dating is the medical emergency scam. Just when you think your online relationship is going really well, your online partner will be faced with some sort of medical emergency.

They will  need money for  surgery they can’t afford or treatment for their son’s brain tumor or you may even get a call from someone pretending to be a doctor telling you your partner has been in a serious accident and you need to send money so they can start treatment. Sometimes, the scams are long and stretched out with the scammers attempting to get as much money out of you as possible by cooking up a variety of medical complications.

Do not send money if you are in a similar situation because it is probably a scam.


It’s terrible being the victim of a scam and the first thing most scam victims do is contact the police in the hope they can actually catch the person who duped them. Sometimes scammers figure out you are onto them but instead of backing off, they take advantage of the situation by pretending to be the police.

So say you have been duped by a Nigerian scammer and you contact the Nigerian police for help. You might get an email apparently from the Nigerian police telling you they have closed in on the scammer and need a payment from you before they can arrest him. This is definitely a scam because the police (no matter which country) will never request money to catch a criminal! Have a look at the email address – something like obviously cannot be the official email address of the Nigerian Police.


Every time there is a disaster like the tsunami, a tornado or an earthquake, millions of do-gooders want to do something to help the victims. Scammers take advantage of this by setting up scam charity institutions which rob the money that you wanted to send to the victims of the disaster. Scammers also attempt phishing by sending you donation requests via email where you can click on a link which then leads you to website designed to steal your passwords and other details.

Sometimes, scammers also take advantage of disaster situations by pretending to be a victim themselves. For example, an earthquake in the Philippines affects millions and the scammer sees this as an opportunity to ask you to help them during this difficult time. They will spin a story about how they have lost everything due to the disaster and tug at your heart strings. Yet, despite losing everything they seem to be an online dating site? Isn’t that a bit odd?


This is another classic Internet scam which doesn’t seem to get old. A lottery scam comes as an email message informing you that you won a huge amount of money

Lucky you, right?! It doesn’t even matter that you don’t recall ever purchasing lottery tickets.

The catch is in order to claim your prize or winnings, you need to pay some small fees.


Business investment is another popular lure scammers use to attract their potential victims. People want to use their savings for a worthwhile investment option. Solicitations for an investment scam can come via email, telephone or even in the mail.

Offers include work-at-home jobs and other get-rich-quick schemes, gambling software, opportunities to buy “secret” shares and other too-good-to-be-true schemes. How do you know it’s a scam? While there is no foolproof rule, it is best to avoid investing in opportunities that have been presented to you by someone who came out of the blue. When investing your hard earned money, it is important to consult with a financial adviser about the best course of action.


As opposed to some of the other scams, in this type of scam the fraudster takes their time to build a relationship with their victim. After a few months when the scammer is convinced they have formed a bond with their victim, they request the victim to cash some money orders and wire transfer the money to them (usually to Nigeria or Ghana). The scammer pretends to be someone from a Western country based in Nigeria for work and hence cannot cash the money orders. This seems harmless enough and most people don’t think twice about it. However, these money orders are often doctored so a $20 money order could have been washed and altered to show a sum of $2000. Once the victim cashes it and wires the money, the bank usually detects a forged money order and the victim is then liable for the entire amount while the scammer gets away scot-free and richer by a few thousand dollars.


With the increasing use of job search sites (E.g. across the world scammers have found a new way to fool innocent victims. Scammers contact their victims on the pretext of offering them a job with unbelievably high salaries. With most people always on the lookout for a better job, these emails seem like a welcome opportunity with people seldom realizing it’s a scam. As a potential “employer” they will request your bank account details etc. so you can get paid but instead you could have money stolen from your account and even run the risk of identity theft.


Online classified sites have turned out to be some of the most popular websites for a variety of purposes including dating, buying and selling products and even finding work. Unfortunately they have also become notorious for their scams so if you are using an online classifieds website you should watch out. There are all sorts of scams on these sites including scammers even trying to fool you with overpayment for an item you list for sale. As always, never divulge your financial details and if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Now that you know what sort of scams could occur, if a scammer does happen to contact you, you will be able to spot them and report them immediately rather than wasting your time forming a relationship with them.