Top 3 cons of 2015 and hoaxes to watch in 2016

They steal the headlines -- and our hard earned money. Here are the top three scams, rip-offs, and hustles we’ve covered in 2015.


Easy money is the theme – with absolutely no payoff. In various forms, Facebook users have been duped into sharing offers of all sorts this year. (My personal favorite was the wildfire that was a bogus Public coupon offering $100 a $120 purchase).

OUTLOOK: More in 2016

DANGER: The real risk is that we're taking the bait and spreading it to others. So far, the consequences seem innocuous, but we fear the easy sharing is a setup for malware and identity. Don't forward these shams.


We’ve lost count of how many times in 2015 a crook has tampered with a gas pump or ATM to steal our credit and debit card numbers. Some con artists have even gotten so savvy that they use a Bluetooth transmitter to grab our account numbers by remote.

OUTLOOK: More in 2016. Unfortunately, gas stations are currently exempt from guidelines that require new chip-enabled cards.

DANGER: A crook who scores your debit card numbers gains instant access to your bank account. That’s why we recommend using a credit card to buy gas.


In both my inbox and the complaint board at the Florida Division of Consumer Services, unwanted robocalls are the number one complaint. The problem is pervasive – and increasingly targeted toward our mobile numbers.

OUTLOOK: More in 2016. Federal law is weak, violators are tough to track, and the FCC says fines are rarely paid.

DANGER: If a solicitor is willing to break federal law and run afoul of the Do Not Call list just to contact you, what does that say about the product they are pushing? Hang up on robocalls. Don't press any buttons or speak to anyone. Just hang up and hope for Congress to crack down.