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The Art of the Steal: Lessons From a Hired Scammer

By Marcus Chan - 2012-03-07T01:44:23Z

Photograph by James Day/Gallery Stock

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Deal or No Deal

The scam: Great deals can be found on the Web. As the saying goes: If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't. Such was the case with Stickley's e-commerce site, which claimed to sell mobile devices such as the iPhone at half-price. By using a pre-made website and advertising on Google, he was able to con online shoppers into entering credit-card numbers and other information on his site.

No orders were actually placed. Instead, consumers got an error message telling them that the site was "unable to process" the card at this time.

"It was shocking how many people were willing to do it," Stickley says.

The lesson: Anyone can slap a Better Business Bureau logo on their site. If you're thinking about shopping at an unfamiliar website, do an online search for the company's name. If nothing comes up, that's a warning sign, Stickley says. Even worse: If the results include complaints or accusations, the site is a scam.