Deliver Your News to the World Lists Top 10 Scams Of 2006


The Phony Lottery Scam was ranked number one in’s Top 10 Scams of 2006. The scheme earned the top spot in the consumer Web site’s year end poll because it continues to inflict widespread harm, especially on the most vulnerable citizens.

In the Phony Lottery Scam, victims are contacted by telephone or mail and told they have won a large cash prize, usually hundreds of thousands of dollars, in a foreign lottery. To collect their winnings, they are required to wire a few thousand dollars to cover taxes, processing fees, or other “expenses.”

“The primary victims of this scam are senior citizens,” said Mark Huffman, contributing editor at “Many just refuse to believe this is a scam and some fall for it time after time.”

In October, reported on the case of an elderly Kansas man who lost $300,000 to these scams, most of which are run from Canada. The man, who had never been in debt, even mortgaged his home in order to keep sending money to criminals.

Also making the list were assorted identity theft scams, counterfeit check cashing schemes, and new scams based on current events and popular culture. For example, making the list for the first time this year were the craigslist Scam and the Oprah Ticket Scam.

“Neither of these scams is particularly widespread yet, but their potential to grow is there,” said Huffman. “New scams are always dangerous because not that many people have heard about them.”

But even scams that have seemingly been around forever continue to take a toll, which is the reason the Nigerian 419 Email Scam made the list again this year at number 5. In that scam, victims receive a spam email, allegedly from a deposed prince or dying millionaire, asking for help in sneaking a fortune out of the country.

“Greed remains the primary reason victims get caught in scams, but there are other reasons too,” Huffman said. “Scammers exploit people’s humanitarian impulses and sometimes their desperation. These criminals are very good at finding ways to push people’s buttons.”

The Top 10 Scams of 2006, as listed by, are:

1. Lottery/Sweepstakes Scam
2. Phishing/Vishing
3. Phony Job Scam
4. Negative Option Scam
5. Nigerian 419 Email Scam
6. Pump & Dump Scam
7. Bogus Fuel Saving Device
8. Grandparent Scam
9. Oprah Ticket Scam
10. craigslist Scam

Mark Huffman writes a daily Scam Alert for and produces a daily Scam Alert radio report, heard on radio stations nationwide. He also wrote and produced “Senior Scam Alert,”’s 18-minute consumer education DVD covering the most common scams. He is available as a source for stories about the Top 10 Scams of 2006 or about scams in general, by calling 804/453-3552.

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