What seems to be very obviously nefarious to you might not be obvious to someone else. That’s exactly the question that internet users have been tackling on the r/AskReddit subreddit. User u/Aurallius asked people to open up about what they personally believe to be scams that “everyone else accepts otherwise,” and they were glad to deliver.
The thread quickly went viral, getting over 36.6k upvotes and a whopping 27.3k comments: everyone was fired up to share their opinions and discuss each other’s views. From shopping channels to credit repair companies and more, you’ll find all things that some people think are secretly scams below.
Some of the things mentioned in this list are likely real-life scams. Of course, you might not agree with all of these conclusions, dear Pandas, but that’s part of the point—the grey area in which these things exist. Let us know what you think about these redditors’ opinions in the comments and if you agree with them or not and why.
The author of the thread, redditor Aurallius, gave Bored Panda some insights about the inspiration behind their question and what people should do to avoid scams. Aurallius is a design student at the School of Visual Arts in New York. They're an illustrator "working to make a living from art." You'll find their comments below.
All of insurance as it is currently sold.
Example: I have full coverage car insurance. I pay $X/month to have that coverage.
Then I use it. Then they charge more.
Which means that my rate before my accident wasn't really the price of coverage; the new, higher rate is. I was paying a subscription fee to have coverage at a higher rate once I needed it.
Same for health insurance. I have to pay a deductible, meaning, I am not covered until I've paid it. "You are covered, but actually not until you've paid out of pocket a certain amount. Also, we will only cover a certain percentage of costs." Which means I'm actually not covered entirely. It's not actually insurance.
Here's how insurance is supposed to work: I pay you $X/month and you pool that money with everyone else paying that to you. When I have a problem you have the pooled resources to cover it for me. I'm still paying more over time probably than the cost of that event, but you're there to take on that cost for me for the price of my premiums. That's not what's happening anymore.
I'm probably going to be blasted for it, but the wedding industry seems to be scamming people for love.
You don't need a $35,000 party to marry someone, just get a priest and some friends for like $3k and save that money for your relationship.
Weddings used to be paid by parents or grandparents of the couple, but times have changed and more people are paying out of their own pocket for a celebration that doesn't really need to be extravagant.
The funeral industry. Poor families get robbed of so much money just to put on a "respectful" funeral, and because they're grieving, it's seriously kicking them while they're down. You don't need to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to have grandma embalmed, made-up with corpse makeup, put in a casket worth an arm and a leg, and lowered into a hole filled with roses, to be topped with an ornate expensive headstone. I wish natural burials were more mainstream, where the body is put in its favorite outfit, wrapped in a biodegradable sheet, and placed in a mound of dirt to be absorbed by the earth. Big funeral companies are benefiting off of people's grief and it's disgusting.
Aurallius, the author of the thread, told Bored Panda that they're often subjected to various ads. The "variety of products and services that are advertised on a regular basis" made the redditor come up with the question in the first place. However, that wasn't the only reason.
"I also wanted to make a popular post," they opened up to Bored Panda that they were aiming for some popularity online as well.
There are various ways how people react to being scammed. Some choose to waste the scammers' time. Others immediately call the authorities. While others choose to ignore the scammers entirely. Aurallius told Bored Panda that, in their opinion, it's best to "immediately report the scam" so as to help protect others in the future.
So-called "body cleanses", whether it be juice, herbal pills or something else.
I want to smack anyone who says they need to go on a cleanse. What the hell do you think your liver and kidneys are doing? you wanna cleanse? drink some water and let the giblets do their work, dingus!
If you look at the actual laws, internships are supposed to be primarily focused on education. If the intern is doing work that is providing value to the company, they are supposed to be paid.
It's just never enforced.
Buying T-shirts with the company's logo on them.
You pay them a ridiculous price to advertise them.
I wanted to get Aurallius' opinion about what people can do to make sure that they don't fall for scams. In the redditor's opinion, education, patience, and awareness are key. "People should think critically and do extensive research on the stuff they use or consume," they pointed out that we should all be willing to put in the time to do some research to protect ourselves and our wallets.
The redditor also shared that credit repair companies are an example of a scam that they've had some experience with.
Scams, hustles, cons—whatever you call them, they’re as old as human history itself. Fighting against scams and con artists is a never-ending battle because a person’s biggest defenses are education and awareness.
I’m not a nutritionist but having comfort food be cheaper than fruits and vegetables is just plain wrong.
The mormon church asks their members to give them 10% of their money. F***ing 10% even if you're a little old lady living on a very fixed income or an 8 year old kid mowing lawns.
If you don't pay, you're not worthy enough to go to their temples. If that's not a scam, I don't know what is.
It's a scam restaurant owners use to keep wages low and profits in their pockets.
When you’re aware of the tactics scammers use, you’re prepared to shut down their attempts to weasel money or sensitive personal information out of you. However, that just makes the scammers find even more creative, evil ways to bamboozle you and the whole process continues to spiral.
There’s hardly a greater bunch of experts on scams than the r/Scams subreddit, a community dedicated to fighting back against hustlers and providing info and support to victims. One of the moderators previously gave an interview to Bored Panda about the difference between real-life and online scams, and what you can do to protect yourself.
"I think online shopping scams are different because you lose that layer of dealing with a real-life person. When you have a real person in front of you, a typical person will feel shame or guilt at the thought of taking advantage of a person,” one of the r/Scams mods explained to Bored Panda that interacting with a scammer face-to-face can give away some of their intentions. Things aren’t as clear-cut with the advent of the internet.
College in America, it's absolutely absurd that they can hold your transcripts hostage, charge 600 dollars a year for a 'parking pass' require that the first year be spent on campus, rotate out a 500 dollars text book every single semester (that was written by your professor), and basically can find any other way to outrageously over charge students while promoting predatory lending and saying they're "not for profit".
Cable TV. Either provide it for free, or remove the incessant advertisements. Not okay with the double charge.
Engagement rings (specifically diamond ones). Ridiculously expensive pieces of crystallized carbon that are intrinsically worthless.
“With the internet, you aren't dealing with a person, but a username and avatar. It is much easier to act maliciously when you don't have a real victim directly in front of you," the redditor pointed out that distance and anonymity don’t work in our favor, but are very useful for scammers.
"Online scams also use a lot of tricks to pressure buyers; low prices, pushes to buy now!, taking advantage of someone's kindness or naivete (re: advance check fraud, money mules, etc), or advertising one product and sending another (or nothing at all, by using a fake tracking number). Getting a person to make a decision via high-pressure tactics and preventing them from reflecting and making a sound decision is key.”
Any seminar entitled "Secrets to Building Your Wealth" or something in a similar vein. The only secret is that you attending is building some other person's wealth.
Inkjet printer cartridges.
My printer cost a bit less than the replacement cartidges and it came with ink when I bought it.
It would be more cost effective if I bought a new printer every time the ink runs out.
One of the best ways to know whether something’s too good to be true is to rely on your gut, your instincts, that little voice in your head that’s saying there’s really something sus going on here. “If a deal is too good to be true, it is. If you see a pair of brand new Apple AirPods advertised for $50, you are not getting an authentic product. There are many counterfeit items out there on the market, and you need to verify authenticity before hitting buy.”
Buying knockoff and counterfeit products is a horrible idea, not just because of the ethics alone but also because they pose potential risks to your health. In short, be careful what you buy. “These knockoff products do not always go through the same safety standards of the real item; they may not be UL certified, they may use chemicals or ingredients that are not FDA approved and are unsafe for use on or in the human body, or could cause major harm to human life or property,” the r/Scams moderator warned.
When a company asks at the register, “Will you round up to the dollar for xyz charity?”
You think you’re being honorable but these companies are just taking your money and representing that THEY are the ones giving it for a tax break. It’s a total scam. If those companies want a tax break they can donate. Screw off. I donate on my own and in my own way.
Bridal showers. I'm already getting you a wedding gift, but i need to get you something else too, essentially in celebration of the same event? And people who expect gifts at Their engagement parties are really milking it.
Transaction/processing fees when you order a digital product online. Such as a concert ticket: you pay 16 bucks extra while you pay online, and then have to print the ticket yourself.
All fees are BS and are designed to either hide the price of the original product or are an excuse for a middleman to cash in.
One thing that you should definitely consider for the sake of your financial safety is getting a credit card and using that instead of a debit card. “Credit card protections for most cards are much more forgiving than debit cards. You can generally get your money back faster if you were scammed or misled by a business, versus initiating an investigation through your bank. It is always smarter to pay by credit card (and pay off your balance monthly!)."
How do these people live with themselves when they are taking advantage of people in their time of mourning/loss?
It's cheaper to go a therapist
Hotels charging for WiFi. Also flights.
You’re telling me I can get free WiFi from libraries, coffee shops, the dentist, and the bus. But I can’t get WiFi included with this $189/night room? If I spend more than $2 i want free WiFi
Those "For every share/like this post gets we'll donate £1 to a charity for the Amazon rainforest" posts on Instagram. No way in hell are any of these people donating millions of pounds just because they got a bunch of likes on a post. It's just a very shameful way of getting likes in my opinion and makes people feel very self righteous when they share or like them.
Any kind of over the counter pill, vitamin, cream or personal cleansing product that is usually unisex but claims that this particular one is for men or women only. It's the same razor model but in a different color, Gillette. I'm onto your s**t.
I grew up on an orchard, so I know that it’s actually pretty easy to follow organic standards. Contrary to popular belief, organic does not mean no sprays, it just means that the sprays you used were on a very long list of approved sprays. (In the US anyway. I can’t speak for other countries)
And then actually being able to use the term organic requires a very expensive certification process.
So all that organic means is that big companies can charge higher prices for their produce.
Priority boarding for airlines. Personally if I paid extra I would want to be the last person on the plane. I sit down, we go. I wouldnt pay extra to make my plane time longer by 30 mins just to have 100 people bump into me as they board.
Yeah you find something you like for a dollar, BUT it has 7 dollar shipping fee AND it's from China and will take a month to get to you.
Autism speaks. The organisation is actually terrible, and views autism as a curable illness and as a burden that must be fixed.
College. Most of he population does not need a degree to work the job they work, but we're told all thier lives that they will never become anything without it. Most of us get fooled into going and spending tens of thousands on a BS piece of paper that in reality contributes nothing to ones ability to do the job they end up doing.
Payment plans for phones and just paying $1000 for a phone in general.
Any company that makes you go to their dealers for repairs, like Apple, just so you have to pay triple the amount. If you had gotten an android and watched a youtube video, you could have fixed the problem yourself in 20 minutes for about 10 bucks.
The shopping channel, they just get some common product, slap a few mouthy salesmen on it with an infomercial and sell it for 10x the price.
They're just screwing over pre internet senior citizens.
Workout/meal plan apps that you have to pay for. All of their workouts and meal recipes are google'able and extremely generic. There’s no face time between you and the app people so there’s no individuality in it. I don’t get how people fall for it at all
The cost of mobile Data plans.
I'm from Sweden and here I currently pay $15 for 8 GB. I lived in Canada for the winter and they wanted $50 for like 3GB.
High School rings. I don’t know why people buy them. What do you use them for?
For those who don’t know what a class ring is, it’s a ring that you can buy when you’re going to graduate. Details vary from ring to ring, but it generally has the school’s logo on it, can be customized a bit, and costs anywhere from $100-$1000 depending on the materials, what school you go to, etc.
Fruit juice and most breakfast cereals. They're full of sugar and so obviously terrible for your health and teeth, but they also lead to an energy slump that makes late mornings at work unnecessarily irksome.
Subscriptions like xbox live gold, playstation plus, etcetera...
It feels odd to have to own a console + monitor/tv, buy a game, have an already paid internet subscription and then above that, before you can even play the game (not all of them, it's clearly stated which games you need a subscription for and which not) you need a paid subscription to your console's online service?
They aren't too expensive but it just feels a little odd.. (I do not own any consoles myself nor am I trying to speak bad about console players. It just feels odd to me personally)
Pancake mix. You literally only need flour and baking powder plus a bit of salt. That's it. That's all it is. The liquid ingredients (milk, eggs) are still the same. Don't spend your money on boxed pancake mix.
Credit repair companies.
I used to sell this stuff.
You pay $100 a month to send letters to credit companies to fight the debt. If they don't respond in X days, it goes off your credit. You can also dispute it if a name is barely spelt wrong or an address.
You can do this 100% on your own and there are templates online you can print out.
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