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Old Dogs New Tricks - How to Spot Old Scams Using New Methods


This blog was written in the Old Dog New Tricks edition of The Office of the Indiana Secretary of State's MONEYWISE E-Magazine 

Social media is a great way for us to connect with family, friends and colleagues. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have changed the way we interact with each other and the way we gather information. One thing that hasn’t changed is the existence of investment fraud. Social media gives scammers new avenues to pursue their victims. Instead of being confined to their community, scammers can now reach millions of potential victims. Even former con artist Frank Abagnale (the inspiration for the movie “Catch Me if You Can”) admits technology makes committing fraud a lot easier than it used to be.


  1. Never give out personal information on a social media website.
  2. Don’t respond to unsolicited email.
  3. Ensure websites are legitimate.
  4. Don’t just accept anyone’s friend request.
  5. Update security information.


Scammers love to use headlines of natural disasters and contagious diseases as a way to scare people into investing in phony scams. Below are just a few that have happened in recent years:


Due to last year’s Ebola outbreak in Western Africa and its presence in the United States, internet scams related to Ebola “stocks” and “investments” started to pop up. The North American Securities Administration Association found nearly 1,200 new domains with “Ebola” in their name just since April 2014.

Hurricane Sandy

Investment and Charity scams after Hurricane Sandy swelled due to social media. Americans wanted to help those who had lost everything and scammers used that vulnerability to prey on victims. These are typically ran through the internet so you can’t judge their sincerity


After September 11, 2001, Americans were on a higher level of alert. Scam artists use this vulnerability by crafting scams using defense-related companies, anti-terrorism or protection from biological or chemical attacks. Scammers use patriotic claims or that they are contracted with the federal government.

To avoid these scams, always do your research. Sometimes a quick Google search will bring up information on the validity of the scam. If not, check with the Indiana Secretary of State’s securities Division.


Kathleen Taylor