The Six Basic Scam Classifications

Scams come in many forms but there are a few, well-tested types that are used again and again. The words and the technology change but the scams remain the same, some times for hundreds of years (See the Spanish Prisoner Scam).

The Six Basic Scams are described here. We use this shortened list to classify the Email Scam Archive, and a longer list to classify the Scam Tip Off Reports

  1. Advance Fee Fraud
    Payment is required to release some much larger amount which is held by a third party. Any transaction that promises a huge return for a relatively small fee is probably an Advance Fee Fraud, also known as 'Nigerian' or '419 Fraud'.
    The majority of the Lottery/Lotto type emails are this type of scam. Also Bequest/Wills and Repatriating cash/bullion from deposed leaders (eg. Gen. Sani Abacha) fall into this category.
    There are no 'millions', Mrs Abacha doesnt have the money either.

    More: Details   |   Email Scams   |   Scam Tip Off Reports

  2. Lottery Scams
    Payment for taxes, customs, documents etc. is required to get your huge lottery winnings transferred into your country/bank account. Perhaps some other lucky lottery winner wants to share their good fortune with you?
    If you are told you have won some random email lottery, or a lottery that you don't remember entering, you arealmost certainly being set up for a Lottery Scam. Big companies such as Microsoft, BMW, HP, Google etc. DO NOT DO LOTTERIES! Check your Lottery at
    There are no 'winnings' , except for the scammer!.

    More: Details   |   Email Scams   |   Scam Tip Off Reports

  3. Phishing
    Official-looking emails from banks, retailers and other online services (eg. Facebook, eBay, PayPal, Chase Bank) which ask you to 'confirm' some details or which are warning you that your account needs some kind of immediate action. Once they have your login details, they can raid your bank, use your online profile to spam and scam your friends, open new credit lines in your name or infiltrate all your other online services. Often asks for credit card details. These are then used or sold on.

    More: Details   |   Email Scams   |   Scam Tip Off Reports

  4. Classified/Auction Scams
    Simple scams using eBay or Craigslist to take either your money, your property or both. May use hijacked accounts with good customer feedback obtained by Phishing to give false confidence. Products bought may not arrive or may be junk (phonebooks and bricks are popular).
    Watch for spurious shipping/escrow services, fake PayPal receipts, use of Western Union and poor communications. Watch out for 'Second Chance Offers' on auctions you did not win!

    More: Details   |   Email Scams   |   Scam Tip Off Reports

  5. Employment Scams
    Employment scams include 'Secret Shoppers', 'Payment Processing' or reshipping services. The promised rates are very attractive but generally involve you shipping goods received at your address using stolen credit cards, or paying fake or stolen checks into your bank and sending the 'rest' on by Western Union. Some job scams require you to purchase some other product that they say will be refunded with your first paycheck. In most cases, this is the whole scam. There is no 'job'.
    The check turns out to be a fake or you get prosecuted for Money Laundering!.
  6. More: Details   |   Email Scams   |   Scam Tip Off Reports

  7. Financial/Investment Scams
    Including High Yield Investment Plans (HYIPs), Ponzi Schemes, Fake 'Affiliate' schemes and Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) scams. Basically offering huge unrealistic returns on investments which turn out to be fraudulent, illegal or non-existent. Solicitations almost always by Spam emails, often uses 'meta-cash' like e-Gold etc. Also scams which involve loans at very low rates of interest - they require a downpayment.....
    The best advice is DYOR (Do Your Own Research).

    More: Details   |   Email Scams   |   Scam Tip Off Reports

There is almost always crossover between these basic types, for example, most use counterfeit checks/cheques at some stage and one scam may morph into another or even present several types at one time. All have one thing in common though; to get you to part with your money or your property. Scamdex aims to inform, alert and educate the Internet-using public to help make sure that Crime does not Pay!

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