4 Shocking Scams (That People Actually Fell for)

Updated on April 8, 2019
Astrid McClymont profile image

Astrid graduated with a Bsc Hons in Criminology and Psychological Studies in 2017 and currently works as a professional ghostwriter.

1. Larcenist at Tiffany's

Of all the organizations in the diamond industry, you'd think Tiffany's would have the greatest ability to spot a fake diamond when they saw one. But this wasn't the case in 1871 when two miners pulled off one of the greatest scams of all time. In an attempt to make some quick cash, and a lot of it, they passed off fake diamonds as real ones and sold them onto Tiffany's.

What makes their story so unique is that they didn't just turn up and sell some old rocks with a good story and the gift of the gab, they actually took experts from Tiffany's on a four-day-long expedition to a secret location. It was at this location that the two men had previously planted the fake diamonds only to then miraculously discover them once the experts arrived. Their amazing acting skills and well-thought-out scam earned them a fortune. The diamonds were bought for $600,000. In the year 2019, that would be an estimated $8 million!

2. Madoff with the Money

You can't talk about scams without mentioning Bernie Madoff, quite possibly one of the greatest con artists that ever lived. His career started in 1960 when he established his firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities using $5000 he had saved from working as a lifeguard. It was a humble beginning for the young man from Queens, NY, but soon, Madoff would find his career skyrocketing.

By 1991, he was chairman of the NASDAQ and included a plethora of high profile friends in his orbit from Steven Spielberg to the owner of the New York Mets, Fred Wilpon. However, twenty years later, Madoff would see himself lose all of this.

In 2008, he confessed to swindling over 9000 investors out of $65 billion through an elaborate Ponzi scheme, also known as a pyramid scheme. In essence, a pyramid scheme is where a paying investor recruits two other investors with returns being given to initial investors with the money of later ones. Currently, this kind of scheme is illegal in many countries.

What is so interesting about Madoff and his multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme is that he had no need to do it. Most pyramid schemers are poorly educated con men, whereas Madoff holds a BA in political science and was a thriving, established member of the financial elite.

After his confession, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years and currently makes $40 a month doing manual labor in prison.

3. Craigslist Rental Scam

Craigslist is a fantastic site where you can buy anything from a coffee table to vintage clothes, to a (legitimate) massage and just about everything in between. But as can be expected with the internet, things are often not as they seem. There are countless scams on Craigslist, in fact the website even has a section dedicated to ensuring users don't fall victim to them. However, one of the most common is the renting scam.

This is where an individual will see an advert for a rental property and hand over cash only to discover the property either doesn't exist, or it does, but isn't owned by the Craigslister. An example of this is the case of a woman in Oklahoma who saw a house for rent and arranged a viewing. After being shown around and agreeing it was perfect for her and her family, she handed over $750 and moved in.

However, when she got home one day, she discovered all her electronics were stolen. And numerous attempts to contact her landlord only resulted in her being ignored. But that isn't the worst of it. It was soon revealed that not only was the property not for rent, but it wasn't even owned by the landlord. In fact, it had been laying empty as it had recently been foreclosed and the 'landlord' had seized the opportunity to make a quick and highly illegal buck.

4. Modelling Scams

If a modelling agency asks for money up front, they are not a modelling agency. They are a scam and you should walk away. Yet, this is what many fake modelling agency scammers do. They lure impressionable young girls with the promise of fame and fortune, ask them for a fee to get their career started, then run away with the money. However, this is sadly one of the most innocent scams the world of modelling sees.

Scams amongst the modelling community have often taken a darker turn, and they have made victims our of seasoned professionals as well as young, inexperienced girls. For example, NFL cheerleader Britany Cason was approached by a talent scout looking for models to present the Sochi Olympics in 2014. She was subjected to a 4 month audition process before finally being accepted.

At no point during these 4 months did she think anything was suspicious. In fact, she had conducted thorough research on the talent scout and the company and everything appeared legitimate. It was only when she was asked to recruit a second model for the job did she start to think something was peculiar, especially when this second model didn't have to go through any of the tough audition process she did.

With her suspicion piqued, Cason contacted the FBI, and not only did she realize her suspicions were not unfounded, she also discovered the talent scout didn't even exist. Shockingly, although Cason was just one step away from getting on a plane to Russia, it was revealed she was most likely to fall victim to a human trafficking ring. In fact, many victims of human trafficking who have been rescued have told authorities of being lured into their situation with the promise of a modelling job.

As shocking as it is, these scams are just the tip of the iceberg. Every day, thousands of people fall victim to fraudsters because of their trusting nature or because the con-artist is just that convincing. In fact, a recent survey conducted by romancescam.com revealed that 69% of romance scam victims were seduced into handing over their cash by the scammer's charm. Meanwhile, the other 31% were lured in by enticing photographs.

So what can you do to stay safe? There are many ways to ensure your financial and physical safety but the most effective tips include:

  • Don‘t believe everything you see or read.
  • If it's too good to be true, it most likely is.
  • Never send money to someone you don't know. Ever.
  • Always be cautious of people you've met online.
  • Don't share personal information over the internet.
  • Be aware of how much you share on social media.
  • Don't feel pressured by anyone online, especially if they are asking for money.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)