Considering human nature, financial scams probably will always be around. But a little information can help us guard against being taken in by the next enticing e-mail offering free money.
Scholarship scams. Financially pinched college students and their families could fall victim to scams, and this site warns of some common ones. The takeaway advice is that if you are being asked to pay money in order to get money - for example, if there's an application fee for an alleged scholarship - you are probably being scammed.
Here's more, from the Federal Trade Commission, on the scams aimed at students.
Scam busters. Investment scams, job scams, tax scams, online and offline scams all get an airing here. Besides "busting" scams, the site has a hugely entertaining section that airs urban legends - including those about deadly rat droppings, pass-out perfume, and Mel Gibson's face. You can also subscribe to a free Scambusters e-mail newsletter.
International scams. As part of its Web offerings for travelers, the U.S. State Department provides advice for avoiding scams that originate overseas. These include the "gorgeous people in trouble" scam, among a listing of frauds related to Internet dating, inheritance, foreign work permits, overpayments, and money-laundering schemes. If it's too late, there's also a page on help for American victims of crime overseas.
Net scams. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which regulates the stock market, has published this primer on Internet investment scams, which may be promulgated in a myriad of phony newsletters touting questionable stocks, discussion-board postings by paid shills, and junk e-mail "phishing" for personal information.