Here’s a dirty little secret that a lot of us don’t want others to know: we like to think of ourselves as the smartest person in the room. Well, even if we might not be the smartest, we’re definitely (way) above average! And there’s no way that we’d ever fall for a cheap scam. Tricksters and fraudsters—beware! There’s no way that you’ll weasel cash out of here! (Hey, that rhymed.) However, reality shows us that many do fall prey to scams and that the scammers themselves are constantly adapting and finding new ways to bamboozle their marks.
Reddit users have been pooling all of their experience together and sharing all the common scams, small and large, that other people don’t always realize are scams or are potential scams. The thread got over 3.2k comments and has helped internet users gain a new perspective on a variety of things, from multilevel marketing and men’s and women’s products to diamonds and superfoods and more. There’s nothing like seeing something with a fresh pair of eyes.
Have a read about some of the most common scams, upvote the most informative posts, and let us know if any of these were new to you, dear Pandas. Oh! And if you know of any other swindles that people tend to fall for, be sure to let everyone know, too!
Diamonds. Diamonds are a fairly common gemstone but the world’s supplier of them is a monopoly and they hoard the majority of their stock to jack the prices up. Emeralds, Rubies and Sapphires are actually rarer than diamonds but cost less because of this.
Previously, I’d had a chat with one of the moderators at the r/Scams subreddit about internet scams, how they’re different from regular ones, and what we can do to protect ourselves from them. Though nobody’s ever truly foolproof, education, preparation, and even rudimentary research are all lifesavers.
“I think online shopping scams are different because you lose that layer of dealing with a real-life person. When you have a real person in front of you, a typical person will feel shame or guilt at the thought of taking advantage of a person,” one of the mods from r/Scams told me during an earlier interview.
“With the internet, you aren’t dealing with a person, but a username and avatar. It is much easier to act maliciously when you don’t have a real victim directly in front of you,” they said.
The US healthcare system. Hell, just name any aspect of life in the US and there’s probably a scam somewhere in there.
Planned obsolescence. Appliances being designed to fail sooner in order to sooner create demand for a replacement. In the same vein, devices being designed to not be repairable, so that you need to invest in a shiny new specimen whenever fashion or the predesigned breakdown require it.
Insurance. You’re obligated to get it legally but when you actually need it, they’ll do everything in their power to not pay out…
“Online scams also use a lot of tricks to pressure buyers; low prices, pushes to buy now!, taking advantage of someone’s kindness or naivete (re: advance check fraud, money mules, etc), or advertising one product and sending another (or nothing at all, by using a fake tracking number). Getting a person to make a decision via high-pressure tactics and preventing them from reflecting and making a sound decision is key,” the mod listed some of the tactics that online fraudsters use to get their victims to part with their hard-earned cash.
“If a deal is too good to be true, it is. If you see a pair of brand new Apple AirPods advertised for $50, you are not getting an authentic product. There are many counterfeit items out there on the market, and you need to verify authenticity before hitting buy,” the redditor reiterated that we should always trust our gut and stay skeptical of empty promises.
“Woman’s” anything. 90% are just colored different. Razors are the biggest offenders IMOP.
“Not only to avoid contributing to the counterfeit market, but because these knockoff products do not always go through the same safety standards of the real item; they may not be UL certified, they may use chemicals or ingredients that are not FDA approved and are unsafe for use on or in the human body, or could cause major harm to human life or property.”
What’s more, even seemingly safe activities like renting properties online can lead to disappointment and lost money. “It is very common for scammers to lift photos and descriptions of houses for sale, mark down the rent as ridiculously cheap, then insist on getting the deposit sent via Western Union or other untraceable means; when it comes time to pick up your keys, the money is gone and there was no rental for you to move into, to begin with.”
The mod explained how doing some background research can help you avoid online rental scams. For starters, try Googling the address and seeing if it’s on a real estate listing for the property for sale. “You may find a real estate listing on MLS, Zillow, or other popular property rental/sale sites. I ran into this recently with a too-good-to-be-true rental, and I was able to report the listing and notify the listing agent that their listing was being used in a scam,” they said.
An extra line of defense that you should consider is getting a credit card and using that instead of a debit card. “Credit card protections for most cards are much more forgiving than debit cards. You can generally get your money back faster if you were scammed or mislead by a business, versus initiating an investigation through your bank. It is always smarter to pay by credit card (and pay off your balance monthly!).”
The Humane Society of the United States
“HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter. HSUS is not affiliated with any pet shelters. And HSUS only gives 1% of donations to pet shelters.” Most of the donated money goes into the higher up’s pension plans.
Seriously don’t donate money to them, instead donate to a local shelter near you, they’re the ones doing real work & helping animals.
Any “charity” whose president is living high on the hog on donations is a scam.
The concept of “superfoods” and “organic” anything. I work at a smoothie bowl place, and people will come in and literally pile 1500 calories full of peanut butter and granola into a bowl and think it’s healthy because they put some superfood organic something into a bowl. It’s literally pumpkin granola cereal from the store down the street, it’s not going to cure cancer.
Recycling plastic. The “recycling symbol” with the number on it is not a recycling symbol. It’s a resin identification code. It was intentionally designed to look like the recycling symbol to fool consumers. Only around 10% of plastics are recycled and usually only once. The whole campaign about recycling plastics and consumer responsibility was set up by the bottling companies to avoid legislation banning plastics because of their harm to the environment.
Insurance, at least in the US. If you have to fight for something YOU PAY FOR to pay THAT WHICH IT’S LITERALLY SUPPOSED TO PAY FOR and in return GET SCREWED with higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher copay amounts, then it’s basically useless. We’re paying into a scam cause we’re idiots who don’t understand, and don’t WANT to understand how much better off our we’d be with Universal coverage, due to cost alone. But hey, what do I know?
“Hustle” culture. Capital doesn’t even have to manage you anymore; you manage yourself by convincing yourself that lack of sleep is good and that you should be working around the clock.
Supplements. Because they are considered a food they are not regulated. A recent study found that 25% don’t contain any of the substance it is sold as. About as many others contain actual prescription medicines that are not listed. In the US about 23 000 people a year are hospitalized, have organ failure or need a transplant due to taking unregulated supplements.
I don’t know if they are still around but around 2010, people were buying these “ionic footbaths” that supposedly removed toxins in your body through your feet.
Most extended warranties on electronics. Usually you’re paying extra for the warranty and extra on top of that as a “labor cost” of whoever is fixing the device.
Cheaper than a new device? Sure but can still be pricey.
I’m most intrigued by the vague life coaches, who use lots of big words and mention specific figures they have supposedly earned, but there is no clarity on what exactly they do.
When I was a kid my brother would tell me the lottery is ‘a tax on stupid people.
When stores ask you to donate at checkout, they’re using it as a tax write off.
Crystal healing, religion, and horoscopes. How are we still buying this bulls**t with the internet out there.
“Work 12 hours a day every day and I’m surrrre they’ll move me up. I’m very valuable to my company “
Funeral services. There is nothing wrong or dangerous about dead bodies. The idea that random people come into your home and take your loved one away, rip out their insides, fill them will chemicals and out them on display and you have to pay to put them to rest is ridiculous and quite frankly evil.
Lightbulbs, if made properly they last forever, but with specific imperfections they only last a few weeks. One of the first lightbulbs ever made still works in the Edison museum
If someone’s ‘job’ is based more around recruiting people for the ‘company’ than selling an actual product and they aren’t literally a hiring manager for HR, there’s a good chance they’re part of a pyramid scheme
The Better Business Bureau. Unless you join and pay your fees you don’t get a rating so if somebody checks out a business with them that isn’t a member it doesn’t look good. That is basically a protection racket
Young Living Essential Oils. It’s a pyramid scheme and is very dangerous. The oils are marketed as edible but can seriously damage your liver. The owner even killed his baby trying to give birth in a jet tub. Don’t buy them.
Tax Preparation. The industry lobbies the government to ensure that taxes are wildly complicated so they can continue to collect an annual fee from annoyed taxpayers.
Those Facebook post that my grandparents always repost that go on about some s**t like Facebook doesn’t want you see this… trump bla bla bla …… repost this if your brave …. let’s make this go viral etc
Time shares. Biggest real estate scam of the 90s. 2nd biggest was probably all those apt complexes turning into condominiums.
Medical school. So much money spent on MCAT, primary applications, secondary applications, interviews, insane tuition, study materials for boards because curriculum is next to useless for that, money spent on board exams, money spent on applying to residencies, NO guarantee that youll match to a residency… oh and then making crap money while working your ass off during residency. Biggest scam ever. They lure you in during the interviews and then keep taking your money and mental health.
Men’s premium brand razors, shampoo, wipes. Getting charged 2-3 times for similar products in ‘manlier’ packaging.
Youtube MCNs (Multi Channel Networks).
Don’t get me wrong, the big ones that run the large channels are probably worth it as they act more as a production company. They provide funding, legal consul, making deals with advertisers, etc.
However, if you’re run a smaller YouTube channel that starts to get some success and are contacted by an MCN it’s always a scam. They’ll tell you they will provide you with ways to grow your channel, but it’s usually just a webpage in the vein of “10 things that will help your channel grow,” that you could get after 5 seconds of googling.
They’ll also make it sound like you get more of a cut from ad-revenue EX: “YouTube takes 30% of your revenue, while we only take 15%.” Makes it sound like you get to take home 85% now right? Wrong, they take their cut after YouTube takes theirs, you get to take home 55% and they take 15% for doing literally nothing. The language in their contracts is so deceptive its disgusting.
Even more official MCNs like Frederator would do this. I don’t hear about MCNs much anymore, so hopefully their they’re dying out, but finding out I was being scammed years ago sucked.
Ordering a full carafe of wine in a restaurant. Where I work, a full carafe can fill 4-5 glasses. Ordering 5 glasses of some of our types of wine is actually $1-2 cheaper than the full carafe. Check the prices and do the math before ordering! Same goes for pitchers of beer!
Any type of insurance. Though I think most of us realize it. Those “we’re here for you” commercials they all put out are deliberate.
Case on point… If you actually USE your insurance more than a few times in the space of 7 years you get blacklisted. That blacklisting follows you to any other insurance company.
Also if the claims were on your home owners insurance… It also follows the house. Good luck explaining that to perspective buyers.
Total mob hit.
The lottery. It’s not technically a scam but it is technically an investment. If you’re willing to pay £2 for a ticket, you can put £2 into something like an index fund
Mortgage insurance. You’re paying to insure the bank, not yourself.
Pretty much all of this first world bulls**t. The idea of money, wealth, work, the entire structure of our society, I mean, take your bloody pick.
Fully digital consoles since alot of games can be much, much cheaper on a disc and with full digital consoles its like, “were going to sell you a console which is cheaper to make and will save you whopping 80£ or so then we’ll sell games directly to you for 9 times out of 10 similar amount it cost on day one while you could have brought it cheaper on disc and got something tangible which would make up for the money you could have saved buying the disc version”
Hair shampoos and conditioners.
They tend to be addictive. For shampoo, it’s simple – the more often you shampoo, the more often you’ll need to. because scalp is supposed to have some oil, and if you keep removing it, then it’ll appear faster to keep up with the need.
On the other hand, with conditioners, it’s a different story. They are meant to make your hair look better after one use, but not necessarily healthier in the long run. So you end up liking this one brand because your hair looked so well after one use, but you don’t realise that it’s exactly what caused your hair to look like s**t after 2 years.
Every single antivirus-app for Android is a SCAM! People feel safe for E10,-/year but have you ever heard someone say their phone whas saved due to their awesome antivirus suite? I haven’t..
The average bottle of even the most pricey thing you see advertised by a movie star costs pennies to make. Most of the money goes towards packaging and marketing. Another way of looking at it is, most of the money you spend on a perfume goes towards the efforts to sell it to you in the first place and not the product itself.
There’s something pretty dystopian about that to me.
If you want to buy someone a gift card through Visa or some other company, you’re paying $5.00+ as a fee before spending more money to put on the card. ‘Here’s your $50 gift card that cost me $57!
Any price that ends in a 7. It is literally a technique used by scam artists to make the price seem psychologically enticing.
Premium cables. In order for one hdmi cable to have better quality over another, you’d need hundreds of yards between the source and display. Cat5 vs. Cat 6 makes a difference for high bandwidth companies, not for your cable internet ass. Really the only thing it matters in is phone charging durability. Yes, don’t get the gas station cables if you help it, but if you do, your phone will still charge at the same rate.
Literally the entire world’s economic system. Wage labour is fundamentally exploitative.
Rehab in america at least. You pay way too much money for them to perform psuedoscience on you with some therapy sprinkled in. The places I went also claimed to be secular but pushed spirituality and religion heavily.
I understand some people can benefit from it, but for me it just took away 4 months of my life and my life savings while brainwashing me into spirituality I didn’t really believe in.
Dasani water at like carnivals
It has salt in it which makes you even more thirsty then u were before so u spend more money on water
The Sharper Image. Except for a few items (e.g. massage chairs) all their products are made cheaply and they can afford to offer interest free payment plans on their items because the first payment, the one to secure the order, covers the cost of the item. Ex. They used to sell $499(?) air purifiers for, I think, $70 down and 6 equal payments of $70 a month. The cost of the item to the company was roughly equal to, but less than the down payment. They used to package in a mini $70 air purifier as an incentive to buy. Actual cost to the company? About $10.
in Mexico where I am from, many people sell cheap discs that supposedly has movies or cartoons and my family has bought so many of them knowing they are just recorded poor quality videos and they just lay there soon to be tossed away but not all of them are bad some are kinda worth buying “kinda”
The buy 3 for $12 at a lot of grocery stores. In reality you can just buy 1 for $4
Big brand freezer tape and painters tape are the same exact tape for different prices. Source: I work at a factory that packages them.