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Horizontes Antagônicos’ Mass Hysteria Experiment
Maybe I'm committing a crime by sending you this, Mrs. Vinícola, but I fear the fuss you will make if I do not send it will be even bigger than if I do send it. I appreciate your false promises of discretion anyway. As much as I appreciate your appraisal of freedom of speech and access to information, I do beg you to think rationally before publishing it. I warned you.My name is Ednilson Bonfins, I am 46 years old and I’m a psychology professor at the Federal University of Horizontes Antagônicos. Today is May 25th, 2013. I will be logging in this email to the dean’s office the results and the progress of my psychosocial experiment, which I have carried out with my students. The reason I am doing this is because of my own curiosity, which might also be the scientific community’s, about how the phenomenon known as Mass Hysteria Crisis works. Understanding its roots and implications might be a way to stop it from making more victims in the future.
~Sincerely, Del. Luz-Negra – 20/03/2020 – 17:50
The experiment is not too complex. My involvement with it served as a substitute for my thesis. My class, which comprises 30 students, was divided in three groups, each with 8 randomly assigned members (six of the students didn’t accept to participate for personal reasons).
The first group was tasked with “taking a dive” into the hysteria, with the goal of disseminating it, maybe even spreading it to other members of the university, or the town’s population, as if they really believed in what they were saying. That group was called The Followers.
The second group was to question artificial hysteria, openly discrediting it and its followers through scientific data (even if made up) to all who were willing to listen, inside and outside of the campus. That group was called The Skeptical.
The third group was the control group, meaning they were isolated from the experiment so they could be compared to the other two in search of discrepancies and similarities. They were sent to a farm hotel in the rural hinterlands of the town, with no access to internet connection or cell phone signal, as a condition for the experiment. The violation of those directives would result in failing to finish the graduation. Those were called The Neutral.
For the mass hysteria, we used an old legend from the university, which I am sure you know of, but which I will log here anyway, in case this experiment is analyzed. At first, I thought about creating a legend of my own, but I decided to go with an existing one, since it would make it easier to attract new followers. An important rule for the experiment was that, once it began, its experimental nature was not to be disclosed, with a deduction being applied to the scores of those who did that as punishment, even if they weren’t taking part in the experiment. I’ll allow myself to log personal comments in the upcoming section.
It is uncertain when the legend came to be, but it might be as old as the university, or even as old as the town. When Nilo Peçanha established this institution back in 1910, he ordered the creation of the first Brazilian program of Psychic Research, also known as Parapsychology, which was quite popular in Europe at the time. It was also one of the first Parapsychology courses in America. Many parapsychologists from the entire continent came to Horizontes Antagônicos to teach about pseudoscience and conduct experiments. In 1915, a fire broke out on the campus, which ended up being closed due to lack of funding for its reconstruction. In 1919, the entire Federal University was, too, closed, since the government was not investing enough money in maintaining the facility, and its isolated location didn’t attract many students from other courses. The university was only reopened in 1961 by Juscelino Kubitschek and his development program, albeit with no Parapsychology course. Up to this point, I have only brought up historical facts, confirmed by the university’s, the town hall’s and the government’s archives. This is when the legend begins. At some point, in 1915, the university started to experiment with the Taipora natives, who lived in a village in the woods of the mountains where Horizontes Antagônicos is located. Their “spirits contacting, summoning and body switching” religious rituals were studied, and a Belgian professor called Stefan Brandahr supposedly learned their techniques. He passed on his knowledge to his students during one of his classes, and all of them managed to leave their bodies and visit the “other world”. That day, though, was the day when the university caught on fire. The bodies of the students, as well as the professor’s, burned, and their spirits were trapped in the “other world”, alive and dead at the same time. Rumor has it that their ghosts still roam the site where the old Psychic Research building used to be located. Nowadays, that’s where the parking lot restrooms and the cleaning crew’s storage room can be found.
Or at least they theoretically could, because nobody ever goes there. I’ve never seen anyone use those restrooms, and the janitors would rather walk the entire campus to store their equipment in the main storage room instead of visiting the one at the parking lot. Every now and then, some young folks go spirit-hunting there and, lo and behold, they never come up with anything. Ghosts, urban legends, monsters, those are all products of human imagination. A series of coincidences that are interpreted as something else. The sheer number of students who were keen to cooperate at first, but then stepped down because they actually believed in that legend is astonishing, especially because I have some Taipora students who didn’t think twice before agreeing to participate in the experiment.
With no further ado, nor any additional comments: the experiment will last for 15 days, starting today and ending on June 9th. I will take notes on results and interesting facts on this document every two days.
Today is May 27th. The experiment, albeit slow, is starting to show some results. The Neutral group has already been sent to the farm hotel, and they seem to be enjoying its water park, according to the establishment’s owner, who is a friend of mine and agreed to assist me.
The Followers group has been the least active of the three. Perhaps they even feel some sort of hostility coming from the opposing group. On the 25th and the 26th, all they did was hand out flyers around the campus, inviting people to a “cult” that will take place in the parking lot restroom, although some of them haven’t had the courage to go in there just yet. Earlier today, two or three of them assembled a desk of sorts next to the storage room, where they approach whoever comes close to them and preach about the return of those students who got trapped in the other dimension. In fact, that other dimension now has a name. They call it the “The Underworld”.
The Skeptical group has been the most proactive, and they seem to be enjoying the experiment. They’ve been handing out anti-cultist brochures, gave a lecture about the inexistence of ghosts just yesterday, and even organized a protest against the Followers near the campus’ main entrance today. Their rally has caught the attention of many students, adding 20 extra members to their group. Although their mobilization is nothing short of incredible, I fear the Followers might start getting harassed by the Skeptical.
Today is the 29th of May. The Neutral are so entertained that they’re barely discussing the experiment among themselves anymore. But the experiment has truly kicked off now, and the other two groups are going all in. After the protests, the Followers started to get ridiculed, and that made them start getting deeply involved with the project. They set up camp near the restrooms, and they seem to be hosting religious ceremonies there, including native rituals (which I think they came up with themselves). Additionally, they’re hanging out in the restrooms, and they have broken into the storage room. There are reports of some members of the group using marijuana and ayahuasca to help them get into character, but I don’t think that’s actually happened. A group of college students from other classes has joined the Followers, and another group, this one of curious people, has placed chairs near their settlement and started observing and recording them while drinking beer.
The Skeptical seem to be frustrated. The protests have only brought more attention to the Cult. They seem to have chosen a manager (who isn’t even participating in the experiment), and they’ve been handing out pamphlets and sharing anti-Followers chain messages online. They’ve also been in talks with the local newspaper, the Tribuna do Horizonte, by the looks of it. Despite still being much bigger, the Cult has started to grow.
May 31st. The Neutral are still collaborating, no problems with that group so far. Yesterday, the Followers wore makeup and native-styled tunics to college. They also seem to be speaking some kind of Taipora dialect, but maybe that’s just my imagination. Last night, they built huts across the entire parking lot, and they’ve been conducting rituals using living animals (although with no sacrifices). The dean’s office even threatened to call the police, but the deputy argued that they don’t deal with that kind of thing. Some of the Followers have been in the restrooms for days now. The group has grown larger than the Skeptical in membership numbers.
The Skeptical have plateaud at around 40 members. They’ve gotten in touch not only with local TV stations, but also with state-wide channels, and they’ve been negotiating a ban on pagan preaching in university grounds with members of the town council. I believe their shortcomings may be linked to the Reverse Psychology they’ve been promoting by demonizing the Cult. I’m eager to find out what will happen this weekend.
June 3rd. I forgot to check on the Neutral. I’m wondering if I should bring the experiment to a halt. The campus was broken into on Saturday night, Taipora symbols were painted on multiple walls, and a dead deer was found at the sports court, with several leaves, fruits and paintings around it. The Cult now shelters at least 100 members, who have grouped up inside the huts built around the restrooms (which have now been painted and adorned with native symbols and what I hope to be fake deer heads). I’ve lost contact with eight of the group’s original members. One of their cell phones has been found somewhere at the campus, seemingly abandoned. A priest tried to get into the university and bless it, but ended up getting kicked out.
Right now, the Skeptical are protesting in front of the local police station, demanding the imprisonment of the Followers. They are less than 30 people now. Some abandoned the group out of fear, others simply decided to join the Cult. I don’t understand how the Cult managed to grow so much.
June 5th. I’m not stopping the experiment. There’s only four days remaining. It’ll all be over on the 9th. The Neutral still appear to be neutral, although my friend has told me they’ve been reading the newspapers, and that some Followers have dropped by the farm hotel on at least two occasions, trying to preach and hand out flyers.
The dean has suspended all classes until the situation is resolved, and threatened to report me to the authorities in case my experiment is not well-received by the academics. Apparently, the dean’s car has been torched, and her house broken into by some Followers. And she’s not the only one. In total, 20 properties were invaded, and the town church was defaced. Entire areas of the university have been seized by them. The local police are now seeking the help of the riot squads and the state’s forces, but the Followers are so many that nobody wants to do anything about them.
The Skeptical have pretty much gone extinct. They organized one last rally the day before yesterday, right in front of the town hall, but the mayor, as well as the town council, refused to intervene. They claimed that it’s a federal university, meaning that the federal government should be in charge of its security. There’s only 15 of them now, and some have skipped town.
June 7th. Two days. Only two days left. The Neutral’s farm hotel was defaced, but my friend managed to conceal the graffiti before they got to see it. The Skeptical haven’t been doing anything lately. All they did was start an online petition to try and get the attention of the president and the media, but I doubt that’ll work, or even get anyone’s attention. Not with the wave of rallies over at the capital. They haven’t even gotten 600 people to sign their petition yet. I’ve also lost touch with three of the original members of the Skeptical group. In addition to that, the mayor has gone missing. I think she’s just decided to stay out of town until everything is sorted out. Or maybe someone got rid of her. Honestly, I don’t even know what to think anymore.
I haven’t dared to learn more about the Followers. I don’t have a car, and the entirety of the town’s bus fleet was torched. I won’t risk going there by myself.
June 8th. Today I woke up to someone breaking into my house. A group of naked Followers was entering through the window carrying the dead body of a goat. They skinned the carcass and started to paint my walls with its guts. I hid under my bed and did something I hadn’t done in decades. I prayed. They dragged me out of my hiding spot and sat me on a chair. Much to my surprise, one of my original students was there, an original Follower. She looked completely different. She was naked, covered in animal blood, with some sort of towel or tunic hanging from her shoulder. She told me it would all be over soon, and that I shouldn’t worry anymore. She said I, the Skeptical and the Neutral would be alright. She hung a goat’s intestine around my neck and instructed me to head to the university’s restroom on the following day at 6 pm to bring everything to an end. Then, they performed some sort of joint preaching and left through the window.
Today is the 10th of June. It is now 2 am, and yesterday was the last day of the experiment. I left my place at 5:10 pm yesterday and walked to the campus. There was graffiti all over the town, with deers and goats everywhere (both living and dead). Every single street I passed by was completely deserted, and the few, regular people I saw were either looking out the windows at home with weapons in their hands, or walking down the streets in groups, carrying guns and food. In contrast to that, I also saw lots of Followers, some who were casually roaming the streets, and some who were defacing houses and burning vehicles. I was almost arriving at the campus when I saw the bus from the Neutral group’s farm hotel in flames. Upon arriving at the university, I walked past dozens of huts, Followers bearing bows and arrows, and more animals. Then I reached the restroom, which was already surrounded by Followers who were waiting for me. The building had been demolished and rebuilt to look like the one from 1910. A sign on the wall read: Horizontes Antagônicos Federal University Psychic Research Center.
At that moment, they blindfolded me, and someone pulled me by the hand. When I was able to reopen my eyes, I found myself in a very old classroom, along with all of my 30 students, sitting on their desks and wearing ritual clothing. Some of them were tied up and injured, while others were happy to be there. The mayor, the dean, the town’s priest and my friend from the farm hotel were dead on the floor, lying around some sort of symbol, drawn with their own blood. The eight original Followers stood up and performed a ritual, and then I understood everything, and felt Stefan Brandahr’s spirit entering my body. Now, the rituals, the destruction, the chaos, it all made sense. It was supposed to bring us back. Stefan then brought me with him, and I saw The Underworld. It was an inconceivable place, filled with entities beyond what I could possibly describe, who inhabited this town since before the arrival of the Taipora people. Stefan Brandahr and his students spent decades talking to the ancients about how they could return and truly rest in peace, and now they have done it. The Followers didn’t do anything on purpose… They brought me back to the body. Stefan became one with me, and his students with mine. There was only one way to really free those poor souls.
Me and the Followers lit torches and burned them alive, so the souls could finally pass. I, too, needed to burn, but that’s when the police arrived. It all happened too fast, and I didn’t even know what was going on exactly. I ran back home, seeing Followers getting shot and helicopters illuminating the streets on the way. As soon as I got to my place, I used a lighter to light the greasy, blood-covered walls on fire, ready to throw myself into the flames. But then I remember I still had to log these events. Even if no one ever reads this, I wanted to log the events, in honor of professor Ednilson Bonfins.
Transcript of the email sent to the office of Federal University of Horizontes Antagônicos’ dean by suspect EDNILSON ROCHA BONFINS
Brazilian Federal Police Evidence
/r/Scams Common Scam Master Post
If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.Previous threads: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/search?q=common+scams+master+post&restrict_sr=on
Blackmail email scam thread: https://www.reddit.com/Scams/comments/jij7zf/the_blackmail_email_scam_part_6/
Some of these articles are from small, local publications and refer to the scam happening in a specific area. Do not think that this means that the scam won't happen in your area.
SpoofingCaller ID spoofing
It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you.
The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created.
SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.
The most common scamsThe fake check scam (Credit to nimble2 for this part)
The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
- The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
- You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
- For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
- Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
Phone verification code scams Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it.
Bitcoin job scams
Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins.
If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere.
You will be threatened by scammers who claim to be affiliated with a cartel. They may send you gory pictures and threaten your life and the lives of your family. Usually the victim will have attempted to contact an escort prior to the scam, but sometimes the scammers target people randomly. If you are targeted by a cartel scam all you need to do is ignore the scammers as their threats are clearly empty.
Boss/CEO scam A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse.
Employment certification scams
You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist.
Craigslist fake payment scams
Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule.
Craigslist Carfax/vehicle history scam
You'll encounter a scammer on Craigslist who wants to buy the vehicle you have listed, but they will ask for a VIN report from a random site that they have created and they will expect you to pay for it.
Double dip/recovery scammers
This is a scam aimed at people who have already fallen for a scam previously. Scammers will reach out to the victim and claim to be able to help the victim recover funds they lost in the scam.
General fraudulent funds scams The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter.
Credit card debt scam
Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement.
The parcel mule scam
A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods.
The Skype sex scam
You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account.
The underage girl scam
You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money.
Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious.
The blackmail email scam part 5: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/g8jqnthe_blackmail_email_scam_part_5/
PSA: you did not win a giftcard: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/fffmle/psa_you_did_not_win_a_gift_card/
Sugar scammers operate all over the internet and usually come in two varieties: advance-fee scams where the scammer will ask for a payment from you before sending you lots of money, and fake check style scams where the scammer will either pull a classic fake check scam, or will do a "bill pay" style scam that involves them paying your bills, or them giving you banking information to pay your bills. If you encounter these scammers, report their accounts and move on.
Google Hangouts is a messaging platform used extensively by all kinds of scammers. If you are talking with someone online and they want you to switch to Hangouts, they are likely a scammer and you should proceed with caution.
Publishers Clearing House scams
PCH scams are often advance-fee scams, where you will be promised lots of money after you make an initial payment. You will never need to pay if you win money from the real PCH.
You are looking for a specific breed of puppy, bird, or other pet. You come across a nice-looking website that claims to be breeding them and has some available right now - they may even be on sale! The breeders are not local to your area (and may not even list a physical location) but they assure you they can safely ship the pet to you after a deposit or full payment. If you go through with the payment, you will likely be contacted by the "shipper" who will inform you about an unexpected shipping/customs/processing fee required to deliver your new pet. But there was never any pet, both the "breeder" and the "shipper" are scammers, typically operating out of Africa. These sites are rampant and account for a large percentage of online pet seller websites - they typically have a similar layout/template (screenshot - example)
If you are considering buying a pet online, some easy things to check are: (1) The registration date of the domain (if it was created recently it is likely a scam website) (2) Reverse image search the pictures of available pets - you will usually find other scam websites using the same photos. (3) Copy a sentence/section of the text from the "about us" page and put it into google (in quotes) - these scammers often copy large parts of their website's text from other places. (4) Search for the domain name and look for entries on petscams.com or other scam-tracking sites. (5) Strongly consider buying/adopting your pet from a local shelter or breeder where you can see the animal in person before putting any money down.
Thanks to djscsi for this entry.
Fake shipping company scams
These scams usually start when you try to buy something illegal online, though not always. You will be scammed for the initial payment, and then you will receive an email from the fake shipping company telling you that you need to pay them some sort of fee or bribe. If you pay this, they will keep trying to scam you with increasingly absurd stories until you stop paying, at which point they will blackmail you. If you are involved in this scam, all you can do is ignore the scammers and move on, and try to dispute your payments if possible.
Chinese Upwork scam
Someone will ask you to create an Upwork or other freelancer site account for them and will offer money in return. You will not be paid, and they want to use the accounts to scam people.
Quickbooks invoice scam
This is a fake check style scam that takes advantage of Quickbooks.
The blackmail email scam The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here are some news articles about this scam.
The blackmail mail scam
This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail.
Rental scams Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse.
Craigslist vehicle scams A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on.
Advance-fee scam, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum.
Man in the middle scams
Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to.
Digit wallet scam
A variation of the fake check scam, the scammer sends you money through a digital wallet (i.e. Venmo, Apple Pay, Zelle, Cash App) along with a message claiming they've sent the money to the wrong person and a request to send the money back. Customer service for these digital wallets may even suggest that you send the money back. However, the money sent is from a stolen credit card and will be removed from your account after a few days. Your transfer is not reversed since it came from your own funds.
Cam girl voting/viewer scam
You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories.
Amateur porn recruitment scam
You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer.
Hot girl SMS spam
You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card.
Identity verification scam
You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to.
This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website.
Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing
You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.
Phone scamsYou should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls.
You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS, Canadian CRA, British HMRC, and Australian Tax Office to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world.
Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards.
[Legal Documents/Process Server Calls]
Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number.
Student Loan Forgiveness Scam
Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program.
Tech Support Call You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam.
Chinese government scam
This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats.
Chinese shipping scam
This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators.
Social security suspension scam
You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information.
You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin.
Relative in custody Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same.
Mexican family scam
This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help.
General family scams
Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money.
One ring scam
Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.
Online shopping scamsTHE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer.
A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products.
Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer.
Instagram influencer scams
Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time.
Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off.
Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items
You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam.
Scams on eBay
There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month.
Scams on Amazon
There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items.
Scams on Reddit
Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online.
A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.
Assorted scamsChinese Brushing / direct shipping
If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings.
Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.
General resourcesSite to report scams in the United Kingdom: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Site to report scams in the United States: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Site to report scams in Canada: www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
Site to report scams in Europe: https://www.europol.europa.eu/report-a-crime/report-cybercrime-online
FTC scam alerts: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts
Microsoft's anti-scam guide: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx