LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There's a new twist on an old scam. It begins with a promise you'll win a prize if you pay money upfront, but ends as a recruiting tool for future con artists.
Win a $500 gas card by paying just $79.95. It sounds like a scam, and it is.
Postal inspectors discovered this scam online while looking for scams that pose a risk to consumers. Laura, a US Postal Inspector, explained to WKYT how it works.
"You would send the $79.95 to the suspect and they would send you paperwork back on how to conduct your own scam."
You never received your $500 gift card, but you got a blueprint on how to con more folks out of money.
Laura told us, "They would tell you how to place an ad in a newspaper or online advertising this $500 gift card for $79.95 thereby you would get the 79.95 from these victims, so this could perpetuate into additional victims."
Inspectors say they are seeing more and more of these simple scams.
Laura says, "During tough economic times its difficult for people to get to their own job, let alone pay for the gas to get there, so a $79.95 dollar payment for a $500 gift card sounds really great to people."
The question is, what should consumers do? Laura says, "If you're Internet savvy looking for bargains, deals or coupons review these things."
Laura says you should also contact the Better Business Bureau. She says, "See what they advise if they have had any complaints about the company you're looking for."
The best thing, though, is to do a gut check. If there is something that just doesn't seem right about the company, walk away and don't get involved.