Con Schemes Abound, Part One

By Karen J. Tierney, CFE, CPA, CVA, CIA

Investment swindles and con schemes have been around for centuries, but the Internet allows perpetrators to reach a wider audience at little cost. 

Each year millions of individuals are victims of con schemes, and the losses are staggering - in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Both individuals and businesses are potential targets for these schemes. Con schemes affect people of every age, gender, religious belief, educational level, society status, and geographic location. Virtually no one is immune from the exposure to these frauds.

In the 21st century, scam artists use the Internet, computers, telephones, printers, and scanners as their weapons, and they do not even have to leave their homes to capture their victims. To further exacerbate the problem, people can be victimized in their own homes without being aware of it.

With the growth and expansion of the telecommunication industry in the last decade, fraudsters have more available opportunities and media to reach their potential victims. The Internet has expanded communication globally as well as exposure to con schemes. The Internet is a new avenue for the fraudster, and individuals should be aware of the various con schemes and the red flags associated with them in order to avoid becoming the next victims.

Staying one step ahead of the scam artists today is a challenge not only for consumers but also for authorities in the detection process. As technology grows at a faster pace, authorities must have the resources available to keep on the cutting edge of technology in order to detect fraud schemes.

Investment swindles and con schemes have been around for centuries and are not disappearing but only growing in magnitude. With advances in technology today, the Internet has amplified the occurrences of these schemes, allowing perpetrators to reach a wide audience at little cost. One common theme for perpetrators and victims is the "get-rich-quick" theme - obtain something of value, fast and easy.

Investment swindles and con schemes can be extremely diversified, ranging from the very simple to the very complex.

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