LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- This is a new twist on an old scamL it begins with a promise you'll win a prize if you pay money upfront. But in this Rip-Off Alert, this scam ends up being a recruiting tool for future con artists.
Win a $500 gas card by paying just $79.99. It sounds like a scam. And it is. Postal inspectors discovered this one online while looking for scams that pose a risk to consumers. Here is 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," said U.S. Postal Inspector Laura Carter.
Victims never received a $500 gift card. They got a blueprint on how to con more folks out of money.
"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," Carter said.
Inspectors say they are seeing more of these simple scams.
"During tough economic times, it’s difficult for people to get to their own job, let alone pay for the gas to get there,” Carter said, “so a $79.95 dollar payment for a $500 gift card sounds really great to people."
What should consumers do?
"If you're Internet savvy looking for bargains, deals or coupons, review these things," Carter said.
Also, contact the Better Business Bureau.
"See what they advise if they have had any complaints about the company you're looking for," Carter said.
Do a gut check. If there is something that just doesn't seem right about the company, walk away and don't get involved.