Reposting an article of mine from Reader’s Digest for posterity because the link is dead on their site. Photo: joelogon
How to Avoid A Scam
When times get tough, the cons get cagier. The latest scams, shams, and devious flimflams to avoid.
By Ben Popken - From Reader’s Digest December 5, 2008
The economic crisis has left many Americans deep in debt and looking for a deal-or a savior-to get them through tough times. But instead of a white knight, many are getting a shady scammer.
Inspired by the headlines, con artists slap new stories on old tricks, preying on the financial fears and desperation of hardworking citizens. After all, when you’re drowning, you’re interested in what the guy who claims to be selling life preservers has to say. Here, some of the newest and newsiest plays to avoid.
One of my favorite articles I’ve written is this one I did for the New York Post. It’s about scammers who bleach $5 bills and print $100 bills on top. The story started when I was getting a birthday card in a stationary store and noticed two cops in there talking to the owner and holding up an odd-looking bill. I knew something was up and later went back to the store to talk to the shopkeeper. After more digging and interviewing a local Secret Service agent, it turned out this was a con getting played all over the city.