There are many scams going around but here are five of the biggest worldwide that you should try to avoid getting caught up in.
For the most part eBay is a safe, hassle-free way to buy and sell inexpensively. However, it can come with its possible scams, especially for sellers. A common problem to watch out for is a buyer who complains that the item they received is different to what you described in your advertisement. If the seller opens a Resolutions Case against you, and if they paid using PayPal, the funds you received from them are automatically frozen. There have been several instances where the seller agreed to refund the item and the buyer returns it. In the seller’s PayPal account there are two buttons: Issue a full refund, which returns the money to the buyer, and Request buyer to return then refund. If you click Issue a full refund, the buyer will get the refunded money and have the frozen funds returned to them.
Most eBay users are honest and easy to do business with, but avoid this situation entirely by describing the item you’re selling in minute detail. Leave no chance for the buyer to claim the item is different to how you described it in your advertisement.
Gendered cosmetic products
When we’re at the supermarket looking to buy deodorant or a new razor, most of us will automatically head to the section designated for our gender—usually curve-edged, pink-coloured items for women, and sharper black/grey items for men. This is deceptive marketing at its finest. The theory is that product sales increase when consumers are split up into smaller groups. And gender is a big one. The video below details with painful accuracy how advertisers tweak the ‘shape, texture, packaging, logos, verbiage, graphics, sounds, and names’ of cosmetic products to target men and women. The video also makes the very valid point that apart from the exterior packaging, the actual product is often identical.
So, the next time you’re in the toiletries aisle at the supermarket, broaden your selection range by gazing across the aisle.
Some iPhone and Android applications are worth parting with money for, others are definitely not.
One iPhone application called I Am Rich lasted only one day in the App Store before Apple hastily removed it. When the app is launched a glowing red gemstone appears, and when pressed displays the mantra:
I am rich
I deserve [sic] it
I am good,
It served no function other than to show off how wealthy the owner was. Developed by Armin Heinrich this app would have set you back US$999.99. Eight people purchased the app, six from the United States and two from the European Union. At least one person said they bought it ‘accidentally’, thinking it was joke.
Email scams are something everyone should watch out for. These can range from a computer virus sent to you though an email from a friend’s hijacked email address, to scammers pretending to be reputable businesses asking for money.
A recent email scam targeting Australians is the ATO scam, which claimed to be from the Australian Taxation Office, and asked consumers to provide their names, addresses, date of birth and bank details, promising to search for any tax funds owed to them. The email was convincingly designed and included a replica of the ATO’s logo and a fake link to the ATO website.
More information about the ATO scam
Based on a business model which relies on the recruitment of new investors to generate profit for current stakeholders, pyramid schemes are notoriously understood to be a scam for everyone involved. Except, of course, for those in charge (at the top of the pyramid), who continue to make money while the people further down do the work.
Pyramids schemes work on the premise that the more people investing in a particular business venture, the more money there is floating around for everyone. The opposite couldn’t be truer. Since these schemes rely on new investors, rather than the sale of actual products, the venture must inevitably collapse because eventually there are too many people and not enough money to go around.
One classic example from 1920 was the ‘Ponzi scheme’, created by Charles Ponzi, who infamously promised investors a return of 50% in 45 days. These returns were set to be paid with the money from new investors, but the scheme failed, leaving five banks and all the investors broke. Ponzi himself made $20 million (about US$222 million today) through his scheme.