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                                       Frauds and Scams 

Advance Fee or "419 Fraud" or Nigeria Letters and Variations -  This involves unsolicited letters and email messages offering the recipient a generous reward for helping to move a staggeringly large balance of funds, usually in US Dollars. These funds are said to be anything from corporate profits / accumulated bribes / unspent government funds to unclaimed funds belonging to a deceased person. The fraudsters are after banking details. The transactions typically require the recipient of the letter or email message to pay something like a fee/tax/bribe to complete the deal - this is the Advance Fee. Such fees will be lost. A recent development is to convince the recipient that the funds are ready to be moved by getting them to log on to a fake bank website and look at a specific account which shows a credit balance of tens of millions of dollars. These funds do not exist. It is also common for recipients' details to be used to perpetrate in other types of fraud.

Lottery Fraud - This involves letters or email messages which advise that the recipient has won a prize in a lottery. To obtain the funds the recipient has to respond to the letter or email message. A request will then be made for the recipient to provide his/her bank account details to allow for funds to be transferred. The recipient may also be asked to pay a handling/processing fee. This fee, if paid, will be lost. Also any details given will probably be used to perpetrate other fraud.

Foreign lotteries - 
These are ALWAYS a scam. The operators - often based in foreign countries - use the telephone, direct mail and email to entice consumers to buy chances at high-stakes foreign lotteries from as far away as Europe. 

Work at Home -  Many ads don't disclose all the costs the victim will have to pay. Consumers deceived by these ads have lost thousands of dollars, in addition to their time and energy. 

Online auction websites -  Buying something from an on-line site is purchasing from a private individual. The website is only a clearinghouse to bring buyers and sellers together. If there is a problem with a sale or purchase, government and non-profit consumer fraud agencies generally cannot intervene in private sales transactions between two individuals. 

Classified ad scams -  A response to an ad; the prospective "buyer" offers to pay with a check for more than the purchase price if the victim will wire the rest onto a third party. The buyer's certified check is fake and the money you wired is gone. 

Sweepstakes - Scam artists often use the promise of a valuable "prize" or "award" to entice consumers to buy vitamins, cosmetics, or other merchandise or services or to contribute to bogus charities. Usually the consumer is asked to pay a nominal "processing" fee of $3.95 to $29.95. ---You should not have to pay to play!--- 

"Phishing" or copycat e-mails scams -  Phishing involves an email message being sent out to as many Internet email addresses that the fraudster can obtain, claiming to come from a legitimate organization such as a bank, online payment service, online retailer, or a similar institution. The email requests the recipient to update or to verify their personal and financial information, including date of birth, login information, account details, credit card numbers, PIN numbers, etc. Some of the email messages include a threat that failure to update or validate your information will result in, for example, the account being frozen. The objective is to induce unsuspecting recipients, who happen to be customers of the legitimate organization being imitated, to respond to the email and to provide the information being requested.

The email will contain a link that takes you to a spoof web site that looks identical, or at least very similar, to the organization's genuine site. In some cases, when the link in the email is clicked, the genuine site is accessed, but is overlaid with a smaller window with the spoof site, making it more believable. Clicking on a link may also download malicious software, known as "spyware" onto your PC which will record your use of the Internet and forward this information, and possibly a log of your keystrokes, to the fraudster. The fraudsters will use this financial information to compromise bank accounts, credit cards, etc.

To avoid getting phished you should never respond to email messages that request personal or financial information and never click on a link in such an email. Reputable organizations do not send unsolicited email messages asking their customers to update or verify their personal and security details. If you are in doubt about the legitimacy of the email, or if you think that you have been a victim of a phishing scam, you should contact the organization in question immediately. You should, however, be careful to use the normal method you use to contact the organization in question, rather than use any suggestions included in, or by responding to, the email.

Pharming -  is a more sophisticated version to Phishing. When you type a legitimate website address into a web address bar you are redirected without your knowledge to a bogus site that looks identical to the genuine site. 

Voiching -  is another Phishing scam that occurs over the phone. The victim will listen to a tape recording essentially saying the same thing that was given by email. The bank customer is instructed to go to a website (false one) and enter the personal information.