Scams from A to Z: Everything you need to know about types of schemes

A total of 301,580 people reported being scammed to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2017. The total dollar loss was more than $1.42 billion, which does not include scams and other fraud crime that was reported to local and state law enforcement.

Ohio ranked eighth in the nation as 8,157 people reported being scammed in 2017. The dollar amount lost by Ohioans to scammers was nearly $30.7 million in 2017.


The Journal-News investigated scams in Butler County and the region for a special report that published in March. Click here to view the front page, and here's a look at what the Journal-News found:

• She chased down her scammer for a positive ending. Here's why so many stories don't end that way.
• Dangerous scams: 10 schemes that hustled the most money from victims

Here is a list of scams and fraud definitions:


“419” refers to the section in Nigerian law regarding con artistry and fraud and is associated with requests for help facilitating the transfer of money. The sender of the “419” letter or email offers the recipient a commission or share in the profits of a transfer of money, but will first request the recipient send money to pay for some of the costs associated with the transfer. The recipient may be sent a payment and instructed to keep a portion of the payment, but send the rest on to another individual or business.

Advanced Fee

In advance fee schemes, the perpetrator informs a victim that the victim has qualified for a large financial loan or has won a large financial award, but must first pay the perpetrator taxes or fees in order to access the loan or award. The victim pays the advance fee, but never receives the promised money. Auction: A fraudulent transaction or exchange that occurs in the context of an online auction site.

Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise

BEC is a scam targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or businesses regularly performing wire transfer payments. EAC is a similar scam that targets individuals. These sophisticated scams are carried out by fraudsters compromising email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfer of funds.


Perpetrators set up false charities, usually following natural disasters, and profit from individuals who believe they are making donations to legitimate charitable organizations.

Civil Matter

Civil lawsuits are any disputes formally submitted to a court that is not criminal.

Confidence/Romance Fraud

A perpetrator deceives a victim into believing the perpetrator and the victim have a trust relationship, whether family, friendly or romantic. As a result of that belief, the victim is persuaded to send money, personal and financial information, or items of value to the perpetrator or to launder money on behalf of the perpetrator. Some variations of this scheme are romance/dating scams or the grandparent’s scam.

Corporate Data Breach

A leak or spill of business data that is released from a secure location to an untrusted environment. It may also refer to a data breach within a corporation or business where sensitive, protected, or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so.


Credit Card

Credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction.

Crimes Against Children

Anything related to the exploitation of children, including child abuse.

Criminal Forums

A medium where criminals exchange ideas and protocols relating to intrusion.

Denial of Service

An interruption of an authorized user’s access to any system or network, typically caused with malicious intent.

Employment: An individual believes they are legitimately employed, and loses money or launders money/items during the course of their employment.

Extortion: Unlawful extraction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority. It may include threats of physical harm, criminal prosecution, or public exposure.


Online gambling, also known as Internet gambling and iGambling, is a general term for gambling using the Internet.

Government Impersonation

A government official is impersonated in an attempt to collect money.


A computer hacker whose activity is aimed at promoting a social or political cause.

Harassment/Threats of Violence

Harassment occurs when a perpetrator uses false accusations or statements of fact to intimidate a victim. Threats of Violence refers to an expression of an intention to inflict pain, injury, or punishment, which does not refer to the requirement of payment.

Health Care Related

A scheme attempting to defraud private or government health care programs, usually involving health care providers, companies, or individuals. Schemes may include offers for fake insurance cards, health insurance marketplace assistance, stolen health information, or may involve medications, supplements, weight loss products, or diversion/pill mill practices. These scams are often initiated through spam email, Internet advertisements, links in forums or social media, and fraudulent websites.

IPR/Copyright and Counterfeit

The theft and illegal use of others’ ideas, inventions, and creative expressions, to include everything from trade secrets and proprietary products to parts to movies, music, and software.

Identity Theft/Account Takeover

Identify theft involves a perpetrator stealing another person’s personal identifying information, such as name or Social Security number, without permission to commit fraud. Account Takeover is when a perpetrator obtains account information to perpetrate fraud on existing accounts.


Deceptive practice that induces investors to make purchases on the basis of false information. These scams usually offer the victims large returns with minimal risk. Variations of this scam include retirement schemes, Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes.


An individual is contacted about winning a lottery or sweepstakes they never entered and are asked to pay a tax or fee in order to receive their winnings.


Software intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems. Sometimes scare tactics are used by the perpetrators to solicit funds.


Merchandise or services were purchased or contracted by individuals online for which the purchasers provided payment. The goods or services received were of a measurably lesser quality or quantity than was described by the seller.

No Lead Value

Incomplete complaints which do not allow a crime type to be determined.


In non-payment situations, goods and servvices are shipped, but payment is never rendered. In non-delivery situations, payment is sent, but goods and services are never received.


Other types of fraud not listed.

Personal Data Breach

A leak or spill of personal data that is released from a secure location to an untrusted environment. It may also refer to a security incident in which an individual’s sensitive, protected, or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an unauthorized individual.


Unsolicited email, text messages, and telephone calls purportedly from a legitimate company requesting personal, financial, and/or login credentials.


A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until money is paid.


Individuals receive packages purchased through fraudulent means and subsequently repackage the merchandise for shipment, usually abroad.

Real Estate/Rental

Fraud involving real estate, rental or timeshare property.

Social Media

A complaint alleging the use of social networking or social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, chat rooms, etc.) as a vector for fraud. Social Media does not include dating sites.

Tech Support

Attempts to gain access to a victim’s electronic device by falsely claiming to offer tech support, usually for a well-known company. Scammer asks for remote access to the victim’s device to clean-up viruses or malware or to facilitate a refund for prior support services.


Violent acts intended to create fear that is perpetrated for a religious, political, or ideological goal and deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants.


Code capable of copying itself and having a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.

Virtual Currency

A complaint mentioning a form of virtual cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Potcoin.

SOURCE: FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, 2017 Annual Report

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