Even as millions of Americans struggle every day to make ends meet, scammers are plotting all sorts of sneaky ways to rob them of their money. In the last five years, 6.1 million consumer complaints have been tracked by the Consumer Sentinel Network, a clearinghouse for complaints filed with various agencies. In 2010 alone, Americans reported losing more than $1.7 billion due to consumer fraud.
When it comes to these cons, the best offense is a smart defense. Educate yourself about current scams and how to recognize them. It's usually much easier to walk away from an opportunity that sounds too good to be true than it is to recover your money once you've lost it. To that end, this slideshow summarizes the most common scams, and provides links so you can learn more about them.
Loren Berlin is a reporter with the AOL Huffington Post Media Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter at @LorenBerlin, and on Facebook.
Spotting Financial Scammers: A Guide to Common Cons