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Your weekly ScamWatch

November 14, 2010 |  6:04 am

A weekly roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Hot toys — Most years, popular toys sell out at stores across the country during the holiday season, creating an opportunity for con artists, the Better Business Bureau warned in a bulletin, “’Tis the Season for Holiday Scams.” Thieves will occasionally advertise those red-hot toys on Craigslist or EBay, at inflated prices, but fail to deliver the goods once they’ve received the money. The BBB suggests that consumers attempt to deal only with local sellers on Craigslist and arrange to meet in person to pay for the goods. On eBay, consumers should deal only with sellers with positive feedback history, the BBB said.

Shopping sites – Some websites advertise electronics or other expensive merchandise at prices unavailable elsewhere during the holidays. Occasionally, these sites fail to mail the merchandise. The BBB suggests that holiday shoppers check the BBB website to make sure the online store is BBB-approved.

Holiday e-cards – Hackers sometimes send malware in holiday e-cards or e-mail attachments, which allows the hackers to break into computers and steal banking passwords or credit card numbers, the BBB warned. To avoid becoming a victim, don’t click on links or attachments unless you are positive the e-mail came from a friend or relative, the BBB said.

Bogus charities – During the holiday season, some scammers send out e-mails soliciting donations to charities that do not exist, the BBB warned. Charities can be researched on the BBB’s “Wise Giving Alliance.”

--Stuart Pfeifer