71

I think most here would agree that whenever someone asks Is this a scam, the answer is almost certainly, Yes, this is a scam.

Have there been any instances of questions like these where the answer was actually, No?

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  • 11
    Here's one: Is this $200 “welcome money” (from a major bank) some sort of scam? [Can't post as answer, auto-converted to comment.]
    – WBT
    Commented Jul 11, 2018 at 22:09
  • 1
    @WBT why can't you post it as an answer? That is a great example!
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 15:15
  • 3
    I did, and the SE platform software automatically converted it to a comment, and changed the nicely displaying title into just the link URL as part of that unwanted autoconversion.
    – WBT
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 15:38
  • 3
    @WBT Huh, my guess is your answer was too short, but it's just a guess. Maybe if you tried filling it out more it wouldn't autoconvert.
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 15:40
  • Even if the answer is yes, it is still helpful to ask these questions because: 1. Others experiencing the same kind of scam things will recognize it if they search. 2. It´s helpful to understand how a specific scam works, to protect yourself against it.
    – Daniel
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 22:52

6 Answers 6

66

It is very rare, but it does happen occasionally that an “Is this a scam?” question can be answered “No.”

A few examples:

If you look at the questions tagged , you’ll see that although many can be simply dismissed as an obvious scam, sometimes a situation is presented that requires a little more discussion.

Often, when someone asks one of these questions, someone will reply with “If you have to ask, then it is a scam.” However, when we look at enough of these questions, we find that it is not necessarily true.

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Another highly popular question that turned out not to be a scam:

I'm supposedly eligible for an inheritance from a distant relative. Offer appears to be legitimate

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Got $2 in the mail from the Pew Research Center, is this a scam?

Turns out, Pew Research indeed cold-mails people cash as an incentive to take part in surveys.

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  • Apparently the US National Science Foundation does too, but they send checks.
    – WBT
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 16:59
4

This one sounds like a scam. How long until a Vending Machine pays itself back?

It as many of the classic parts of a well known scam, but it makes no sense that the company would do this to their employees. Although the group of current employees may already be victims and want to spread the pain.

I added the tag because there were enough red flags in the question to make we wonder. Sometimes the scam tag isn't added when the question is first written. I wonder if it has ever removed from a question?

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  • Is there any evidence that it isn't a scam? The employer might be offering it to the employees, but it could just be the case of it being a relatively small company, the owner has been contacted by the vending company, and the owner wants to let the employees choose whether to have the vending machine in their canteen.
    – AndyT
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 13:46
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I would add to the list: How scammy are cashback sites? asking about various cash-back sites which give users a small percentage of a purchase back as a rebate/credit in exchange for using an affiliate link. At least sometimes, it's not actually a scam.

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In addition to heir-finders (which I am not familiar with, but the name is fairly descriptive), many governments publish occasional lists of people owed funds by the gov't, and at each publication date the "helpful" law firms do their web searches and cold-call/text/email people offering to retrieve their lost monies for a "reasonable" fee.

From what I've been able to find this is legitimate and legal, if not a cost-effective approach.

(Source: my emergency backup savings account went idle and got turned over to the state; a small army of lawyers contacted me to "help".)

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