How To Avoid Being The Victim Of An Online Scam

By KBJR News 1

August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 2:52 PM CDT

Posted by Melissa Burlaga

"It's frustrating because you think it's real but it's not! And you find out that you have just been cheated out of your money!!"
Ari was trying to sell a portable play station online.
He found a buyer through Amazon ...

"He offered to buy it for like 50 bucks more than what I put it on for- I guess to make sure that he was the one that got it."

Amazon was supposed to coordinate the sale.

But the buyer e-mailed Ari directly- pretending to be Amazon.

The e-mails looked professional .

"There are ads on here!! And it looks so real with the Amazon and stuff like that!"

Ari shipped off his play station, but never got paid.

A loss of about $350.

"And ultimately in contacting Amazon they indicated that the purchase was likely fraudulent. They said that there was nothing that they could do, that this type of thing happens all the time. "

Scams like this total almost 3 billion dollars a year.

In fact, thieves often replicate the websites of major retailers in order to steal credit card numbers.

So how can you spot an imposter website?

"What's the web domain in the address line? If, it says, yourstore.com chances are you are okay. But if it's got a lot of numbers and then the name is sort of meshed in at the end- there is a good chance you are on a spoof site."

And, he says, be careful of sites with links that don't work.
"Sometimes they will put just enough work in there to make it look real, but then you will click on today's specials- or learn about us corporate- or job opportunities...and you'll go to those and all the links are dead."

Finally, he says, avoid clicking on links you get through e-mails .

If you enter your credit card information online...make sure the site begins with "https" instead of "http." the "s" stands for secure.