Whether it’s on the Internet, or in real life – to be honest, that’s pretty much the same thing now – scams are everywhere. Sure, it would be nice if you could just trust every rich Nigerian prince out there, or not have to worry that the new love of your life secretly has a penis, but this isn’t Neverland. This is real life, Peter Pan will rob you blind and Tinker Bell is actually Tinker Bob.
The good news is that you can protect yourself. You just have to pay attention and know what to look for. That’s where we come in. The following scams will all ruin your life, so if you are overwhelmed by the sheer number of scams out there, at least try to not fall for any of these seven scams.
The Scam: You invest in a company that promises unbelievable returns (literally unbelievable), only the company (usually just some jackoff con-man) takes your money to pay earlier investors and so on and so on. There are no profits to be shared, only more and more suckers getting duped into paying people further up the chain, or pyramid, which is why this is also known as a pyramid scheme.
How it Ruins Your Life: Eventually, the whole thing collapses and either the con-man runs off with everyone’s money or everyone gets nervous and demands their money and… the con-man runs off with everyone’s money. You lose your life’s savings, you feel like a fool and get to watch as the President pardons the con-man because they used to play golf together. It’s the new American Dream.
The Scam: There are lots of different ways this one works. The common theme is that you are duped into giving up your social security number, your bank account number, etc. The most nefarious versions do this without you even knowing. They set up a phony Web site or form that looks legit, get you to willingly enter all your info, and then they take that info and wreak havoc in your name.
How it Ruins Your Life: It’s notoriously difficult to come back from identity theft. Just look at the name. They are literally stealing your identity. The next thing you know, you’re actually a Triad gang member with three mortgages, a mountain of credit card debt and you can’t even send out e-mails anymore because your account has been hijacked and now all your friends have computer viruses and won’t talk to you. Have fun!
The Scam: Someone falls in love with you even though you’re a hideous wretch. Why, it’s almost too good to be true! Yeah… about that. Eventually, you realize the love of your life is actually just using you, but only after they’ve bilked you out of all your money, sometimes slowly, in a way that you have a hard time noticing, and sometimes in a big way, like “My dad needs an operation, only the insurance people have screwed him over and if he doesn’t get $100,000, he’ll die! Oh, by the way, you can just make the check out to cash…”
How it Ruins Your Life: You get your heart broken along with your bank account, ending up poor and alone, unable to trust anyone ever again. This is, uh, not an ideal way to live.
Pump And Dump
The Scam: You bone a girl and then immediately dump her, and… wait, wrong “pump and dump.” Okay, for real, this is a scam where an investment house gets hold of a shit stock and artificially drives up the price, usually by getting chumps like you to invest in it. Of course, the whole thing is a sham and they eventually cash out, causing the stock to dive, taking all your money for themselves and leaving you broke. You’ve all seen The Wolf of Wall Street, right? Yeah, that.
How it Ruins Your Life: The shitty part about this is that you don’t just invest a little bit. No, the real con is that these scammers manage to talk you into investing more money than you could even afford if it was legit. You end up completely broke, and DiCaprio ends up fucking models aboard his yacht while Jonah Hill watches and masturbates. The darkest timeline.
The Scam: You meet a girl online and fall in love because she’s the greatest thing that ever happened to you. It’s almost as if she knows exactly what you like, what you want and, perhaps more importantly, what you need. One problem: she’s actually a dude.
How it Ruins Your Life: In the most benign cases, you’re just being fucked with for the LOLs, which isn’t exactly devastating, but it still messes with your head and your heart, which is never fun. In the worst cases, it’s a form of the sweetheart scam, only instead of boning a hot blonde who’s robbing you blind (Hugh Hefner just calls this “marriage”) you’re being robbed by a dude wearing a wig who just makes you sit at home, jerking off, while he talks dirty to you and cashes in all the “gifts” he gets you to send. Look, all I’m saying is that it’s tough to come back from buying a wedding ring for a 450-pound neckbeard who lives in a sewer in New Jersey.
The Scam: A Nigerian prince has millions of dollars just sitting there, only he can’t get to it and desperately needs your help! He’ll give you a portion of it, but first you have to send him some money so that he can… blah, blah, blah. You all know this one.
How it Ruins Your Life: Look, this may be stretching the definition of “ruins your life” here. Usually, you just get duped out of a few grand, unless you’re dumb enough to keep sending money before you realize it’s all bullshit. Then again, if you’re dumb enough to fall for the Nigerian scam once, who knows how long he’ll keep you wriggling on the hook? He could probably bleed you completely dry. But really, even if you just lose a couple grand, the real shame in this is falling for the Nigerian Scam in the year of our Lord 2016. If that happens, you deserve to be mocked and scorned by all your friends and loved ones, and you should consider your life ruined.
The Scam: You’re promised peace and eternal salvation if you only “donate” 10% of your pay (and sometimes more, especially if your “religion” is, uh, “scientific” in nature) and agree to live by a restrictive set of rules that cause you to repress your feelings and desires, which makes you hate yourself, only you’re so fucked up by it all that you end up taking it out on the rest of the world, or by marrying Katie Holmes and ruining her all because you can’t come out of the closet like a real man, and… I’ve just been given electric shocks by a team of lawyers and L. Ron Hubbard’s ghost.
How it Ruins Your Life: Look, I recognize that I’ve gone full 2 edgy 4 u here, but you can’t deny how destructive religion (not necessarily faith or belief, but religion, and yes, those are vastly different things) has been, from the Crusades to the shit in the Middle East today to burning people at the fucking stake back in the day to simply making a dude feel like he’s a monster just because he’s gay. Religion has ruined a lot – a lot – of people’s lives. Just ask Jesus. Meanwhile, history is filled with religious leaders who spend all their time counting their jewels and money. How is this different than any other scam on this list? In fact, you could even argue – and I guess I just did – that this might just be the worst, not to mention the most destructive, scam of them all.
Empty wallet image by Shutterstock