People Share Stories of When They Were Almost Scammed, and They Are Super Relatable
So, let’s talk about it. The internet has made it easier for strangers to contact just about anyone, anytime, for anything. And unfortunately, smart, well-intentioned people are becoming victims of scammers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 95,000 Americans were victims of social media fraud in 2021 — more than twice the number in 2020. And one of the most common scams out there? Romance scams.
Which brings us to our next point: “The Tinder Swindler,” a Netflix documentary about the romance scam to rule them all. The film tells the story of a notorious dating app scam artist who seduced wealthy women by posing as a billionaire businessman.
By the time he charmed his targets into falling in love with him, he had taken them for all they were worth. But the story doesn’t end there. “The Tinder Swindler” follows the story of how this conman’s victims combined forces to get revenge on the man that broke their hearts and took their money.
Romance scams are so effective because they target people in their most vulnerable place: their feelings. And in the end, that’s how scammers look for their prey. Whether it’s hope, love, fear or greed, scammers target humans’ most primal emotions in order to get what they want.
Recently, we asked our mitú audience if they’ve ever been offered a “business opportunity” that ended up being a scam. And many of you had a lot of details to share!
Note: Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
1. “Idk if it’s legit or not… But this dude came up to me while I was getting gas and tried to get me to do that forex thing 😅”
According to Investopedia, Forex (Foreign Exchange) Trading can definitely be a scam, but only if you’re not careful. A good rule of thumb is to do your research by listening to word of mouth from several other members who are involved. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
2. “My friend does those free vacation things all the time. The ones where they say you have to buy a time-share or some other bs.”
“She’ll go and sit through the one to three hour seminar and then during the private meeting she’ll tell them she’s broke and has bad credit and only came for the free vacation. She’s gone on like twenty of them. Those people hate her but because she accepted the invitation the system keeps sending them to her. And if you read the fine print it’s not mandatory to buy anything. It’s only mandatory to sit through the seminar and go to the one on one meeting. She’s totally beating them at their own game.”
Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
3. “Oh, you mean like MLM (multi level marketing)? The dead giveaway is when a stranger starts by complimenting something you are wearing…”
“…and proceeds to make small talk about where you live and work, then about how they know someone who is retired and has amassed a fortune. Nowadays, I simply cut people off once they start asking questions (small talk) to avoid wasting my time. By the way, this has happened at Macy’s and Nordstrom Rack, so if strangers come up to you and start by complimenting, just know you have been warned 🤓”
Be wary of compliments from strangers, y’all!
4. “A lady and her creepy husband were trying to get me to join their pyramid scheme.”
“They were so pushy about me drinking a tea (to try the product, según), I didn’t drink anything.”
Alright, so multi-level-marketing schemes — Herbalife, LuLaRoe and a slew of others — aren’t technically scams by the legal definition, but you’re definitely at risk of losing all your money if you don’t know what you’re up against or can’t make sales. As the FTC reports, most people who join MLMs “make little to no money.” Yikes!
5. “I remember when I first arrived to L.A., I got a call saying my social [security number] had been used for idk what, and if I didn’t resolve that problem I was going to jail.”
“They asked for my social & yo de tontita les di mi info. I was so innocent back then. 😔”
If you ever get a call about a problem with your social security number, it is most certainly a scam. If there was ever truly a problem with your social security, the government would contact you by certified mail.
6. “The worst one is when I got a ransom call because they had kidnapped my daughter and they put a crying kid on the phone!!!”
“They called in the middle of the night too and I was scared shitless until I woke up enough to remember I don’t have kids.”
Unfortunately, the virtual kidnapping scam is becoming more and more common. While this can be very scary, if this happens, ask the person on the phone to describe an identifying feature of the alleged victim. Or, try to contact the victim on the phone or social media — they might answer right away, proving that they are not actually being held captive.
7. “Today I got sent this sketchy long message on WhatsApp about bitcoin investments that gave you a welcome $500 gift 😂”
If you get a message from a stranger who randomly offers you a large amount of cash, chances are, it’s too good to be true.
8. “That car warranty one ☝🏼 😂😂”
And, of course, the ultimate boss of all scams: the car warranty scam. How many times must we answer the phone only to hear a robot’s voice telling us that there is a problem with our car warranty? Why does this keep happening? Who is doing it?
“The Tinder Swindler” drops exclusively on Netflix on February 2.
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