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What Is Website Fraud?

Article Details
  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 06 May 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2019
    Conjecture Corporation
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Crimes relating to fraud have been around as long as people have been around. Although fraud may be defined in many ways, the basic elements are the use of deception, and personal or financial gain resulting from the deception. With the advent of the digital age came a new kind of fraud — website fraud, or Internet fraud. Any attempt to gain or profit, financially or personally, from deceptive practices initiated or completed through a website may be considered website fraud. Scams involving dating sites, health and beauty product sites, and employment sites are popular website fraud scams.

The anonymity of the Internet makes it an excellent hunting ground for potential fraudsters. When a victim is unable to physically see and hear a con artist, it makes it harder to pick up on the clues to his or her true motives that might be noticed in person. Criminals all over the world have taken advantage of the anonymity that the Internet affords to commit crimes of Internet and website fraud.

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Although website fraud can take many forms and can be found in almost limitless variations, one common type is dating site frauds. Many people turn to the Internet to find a potential love match. Fraudsters take advantage of the victim's willingness to open up and provide personal details in the hopes of finding love. Once the criminal has obtained enough personal information, he or she may assume the victim's identity and destroy his or her credit, or may involve the victim in one of a number of money transfer schemes involving counterfeit checks.

Health and beauty websites are also ripe for website fraud. People are inherently interested in products that make them healthier or look younger. Often, a victim is willing to believe even the most incredulous claims made on a website for a health or beauty product. People who suffer from illnesses or diseases, unfortunately, are also often targeted for scams involving health or healing products sold over the Internet. Criminals scam victims by making outrageous claims, often with money-back guarantees, only to disappear shortly after appearing — with all the proceeds of the bogus product.

Employment websites can provide fertile hunting grounds for victims of website fraud. A fraudster may look for profiles of people who appear to be desperate for work and naive enough to fall for a scam. The criminal will then contact the victim with an "offer to make great money," or something similar. There are a number of variations on this scam, but the victim is usually required to either cash a cashier's check and then wire some of the money, or re-ship items from his or her home. Of course, the cashier's check turns out to be counterfeit and the goods shipped turn out to be purchased with a stolen credit card over the Internet.

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