(WAFF) - It could happen to you just from surfing the web. You getting trapped into an online scam. It’s big business, especially in Alabama. Why, because there is plenty of money to be made.
Here are a couple of legitimate complaints to the Better Business Bureau.
Complaint: “I purchased one Clear Fruit Infuser Water bottle and two crystal infuser bottles from a website named Lemon Apparel with a ten day shipping period. Ten days passed and I emailed with no reply. I checked the shipping and the entire website was taken down.”
Complaint: “We sent a money gram to a guy in Brownsville Texas, buying a Pitbull puppy. It was supposed to be shipped to us. They even kept us updated with a tracking number through the airline but then they asked for more money. It never arrived. Please do not buy off this website. It’s fake! They stole $600 from us.”
Internet scams come in all varieties, phishing, ransomware, credit card fraud or what these two went through a no-show of what you bought online.
Non-delivery is the number one scam hitting the top of the list for both the FBI and the Better Business Bureau for online scams.
“When we’re surfing online and we see a great deal pop up, whether it’s for pets, cars, household items, jewelry, makeup, you name it, if we see a deal that looks really great, we think we have to jump on it right away and sometimes we don’t stop and think does that make sense,” said Elizabeth Garcia with the North Alabama Better Business Bureau.
According to the BBB, pets, clothing, cosmetics, electronics, cars and even weight loss supplements are some of the items that never get delivered and the list goes on from there. When scammers aren’t promising you to lose weight or have better skin, they’re busy scaring you by making you think your computer is on the fritz, the classic malware/virus scam.
"They'll direct you to a website, remote into your computer, take control over it, show you a bunch of horrible things that are wrong with your computer, that aren't really horrible at all but they can convince you that they are and then they will try to weasel you out of $300 to $500," said Jim Fischer, Owner of Excel Computer Services in Florence.
After 26 years of helping people navigate and fix computers, Jim Fischer has seen and heard it all. “A man brought the computer into us for repair, we cleaned and cleared up all the stuff, and two weeks later, he brought it back in again and he fell for it again,” added Fischer.
In the end it all adds up, Alabama victims lost on average $2,574.39 from the latest information available in 2017. Count up all the reports to the FBI’s complaint center and Alabama lost $9.9 million dollars overall, putting Alabama 30th on the list out of 50 states.
“It’s also taking from the overall economy of our state because that money that’s lost, could have been spent in your city, your county, your state,” added Garcia.
But really the buck stops with us in protecting ourselves and our wallets.
Use trusted and respected websites when buying anything.
“Those little Microsoft warnings about updating your operating system or your computer needs to restart, do those Microsoft updates, you don’t have to purchase expensive anti-virus, there are some perfectly legitimate anti-virus that is built into the computer,” explained Fischer.
Online scams are still effective for any age group but those on either end of the spectrum are falling for them the most. The young and the elderly.
The IRS is still the number one used agency to scam people out of their money, followed by the department of treasury and even the BBB.