How Scammers Cover Their Tracks

August 12, 2014
- by Evan Gillogley


The smartest scammers cover their tracks and leave nothing behind. They open shop, make a fake business or imitate a well-known company, and trick consumers into giving them cash. The trick depends upon using untraceable equipment.

scammers onlineScammers first needs to hide their identity. For phone scams, they will change their caller ID and disguise themselves as a known business or government agency. For Internet Scams, they may use a proxy, virtual private network, or third party to protect its domain information. For example, scammers may hide its personal information found on WHO.IS domain check. In other cases, the scammer will hide his or her IP address through a virtual private network (VPN). These services are inexpensive and make it difficult to trace the scammer.

After covering their tracks, the scammer will trick the consumer into giving them money.  Some popular techniques include posing as a relative in need, imitating a known company, or offering a prize or grant.

The catch is that the consumer has to send a deposit in advance through a wire transfer or prepaid card. For wire transfers, scammers will open an account and ask the consumer to wire the funds to it. After the funds are transferred, the consumer will never hear from them again and find that the scammer’s account is closed. For prepaid cards, the scammer will ask the consumer to go to a local convenience store, such as CVS or Walgreens, and ask them to pay a prepaid card. The scammer will ask for the numbers on the card and pull the funds from the card.

Next time you receive a suspicious call or are told to transfer funds, consider:

  • Find A Trusted Provider. Do research at, with trade associations, and online to verify the legitimacy of the offer.

  • Don’t Give Out Private Information. Be aware that any personal information you provide may be used for purposes you did not intend. Only give personal information to brands you can trust and be certain that the page is secure. On online, look for the https and the lock symbol in the URL window of your browser. For more information, read BBB shopping tips:

  • Run An Internet Search. Review the agency’s location, credentials, and history. Check their WHO.IS for their information and search their phone number online.

  • Beware of False Branding. Verify the relationship of any brand used in connection with the job offer and the employer.

  • Fraud is Fraud. Don’t Get Caught Up. If you are asked to wire money to a third party, open an account and deposit money, or solicit people to engage in the same activity you could be perpetuating a fraud and be held accountable.

  • Report Suspicious Offers. If victimized or are in receipt of a suspect offer, contact your local Better Business Bureau at

Disclaimer: Views expressed on this Blog are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BBB Serving Northeast California.