I recently received an email from yet another victim of a Craigslist scam. It\u2019s one of the hundreds I\u2019ve read over the last 20 years. In this case, he was selling a valuable cactus plant. The email thread he sent me had all the classic scam tip-offs. The scammer agreed to pay full price and cover shipping, but then had a sudden family death of the person who was supposed to pick up the plant and pay in cash. This type of emotional pull is called a stressor event.\u00a0The scammer said he needed the seller to accept an \u201cemergency\u201d check for larger than the sales price, and then send the overage to someone else to complete the transaction. Anyone in our field would know this was a scam, but only because we\u2019ve seen it before.What fools the victims is that they mistakenly believe that they are safe once they deposit the check and the bank clears it. This is not true! The bank can reclaim the money at any time if it doesn\u2019t get it from the fraudulent check. \u201cCleared\u201d in the banking industry doesn\u2019t mean safe to spend.The banks are up-front about what their initial \u201cclear\u201d means, and they are under a lot of pressure to let the people who deposit checks spend \u201ctheir money\u201d as soon as possible. Still, I wish when a bank confirms a check has cleared that the check depositor no longer needs to worry. When transactions, checks and bank accounts can be checked in seconds, why is it taking two to five days to verify if a check is truly valid? It isn\u2019t a technological reason\u2026or it doesn\u2019t have to be. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to change soon.Defending against scams starts with awarenessI\u2019ve interacted with hundreds of people who have lost money. Many are smart and excel at their jobs.\u00a0 Victims come from every slice of society, including doctors, lawyers, engineers, Nobel Prize winners, mechanics and even IT security workers. So, don\u2019t shame victims thinking that they were dumb or a patsy. Intelligence has nothing to do with it.The deciding factor whether someone can be scammed is awareness of the scam presented to them. Many people have no idea that Microsoft doesn\u2019t call you to let you know your computer is infected with a virus. Most don\u2019t know that they can still be held responsible for a \u201ccleared\u201d check.The number one scam defense is awareness education. Banks are doing it. Employers are doing it. Craigslist is doing it. Many people and businesses try their best to inform people about the various scams. Consider adding the following information to your company\u2019s security awareness training program.Types of scamsHere are a few examples of the most common scams I\u2019ve seen. \u00a0\u00a0Business services scamSomeone on Spiceworks, a very cool and technical computer-related blog, needed help to determine if a proposed business deal was a scam. He and his wife run a small business, usually advertising online and interacting with nearly every customer online. They got an email request for work to be performed for someone that contained five common scam email techniques, including the claim, \u201cI\u2019ve been scammed in the past, so I want to do things a little bit differently.\u201d This always equates to some bogus transaction method.Everyone told him and his wife to run away from the scam. I always say, \u201cWhen in doubt, chicken out!\u201d I also have other ideas I\u2019ll share below.Rental scamsMy daughter is looking for a new place to rent and received a scam email. I was not aware of this type of rental scam, but she was skeptical enough to send it my way to see if I thought it was a scam. It was.The emailer said he owned an attractive property and he was not only offering lower-than-market monthly rent terms, but my daughter\u2019s deposit and every month\u2019s rent thereafter would go toward actually owning the house (\u201cwithout having to pay unnecessary taxes and fees to the greedy banks\u201d). The \u201clandlord\u201d told my daughter and her husband to drop by the house and look in the windows. He said they would see for-sale signs in the yard, but to ignore them because the \u201clandlord\u201d had been scammed by the real estate firm and no longer wanted to do business with that firm. Further, the \u201clandlord\u201d was out of the country on National Guard tour of duty and would be unable to show them the house. Wow! Who could have guessed?If my daughter and son-in-law needed any more proof, they could look at his email address. It was an email address that \u201cexactly\u201d matched the legitimate owner on record using an @outlook.com domain. We know how official that is, right?Romance scamsI continue to get email from friends and family members about\u00a0romance scams. A lot of lonely hearts are being scammed. Romance scam victims will give away every cent they have, break every long-lasting friendship they have, break off contact with any skeptical family members until the money and assets are gone. Even then, they still have hope that their online lover will come through.\u00a0Wire fraudWire fraud shows no signs of abating and appears to be growing. Several cities and businesses have been scammed out of millions of dollars this year alone. Google admitted to being defrauded out of tens of millions of dollars from fake Dell invoices.How to spot a scamHere are 14 red flags that any scam awareness training should cover:Buyer\u2019s willingness to pay full price without haggling and pay shipping and other costsLandlord\u2019s inability to show you inside of propertyScammer uses unusual stressor events, including:Claim that transaction must happen ASAP or the deal is offClaim you must take a check and no other payment method will workThey want to send you a check for more than what is owed and have you remit the excess to someone elseDeath of a family member is impacting the deal somehowYou will be arrested if you don\u2019t send money nowSomeone in your family is hurt, arrested, or detained and so you need to send moneyThey offer to let you pay in gift cardsThey are out of town so they can\u2019t meet with youClaims of having been scammed by previous buyers before, so they want to do the transaction in a strange, unexpected way that, if examined, gives them every opportunity to financially benefitAdamant you must use their escrow person for paymentAdamant you must send them your banking or identity details to get paymentAdamant they will not use online service\u2019s mandatory payment serviceCannot take your phone callYou can\u2019t find their company name or email address on the internetTheir company name is very similar to a very well-known, global company name, but not quite the same (e.g., P&G Printing, GE Electricians, Amazing Books)A request that you need to send them money so they can send you even more moneyThey are in love with you, but for some reason, just can\u2019t speak to you on the phone (or take a picture showing today\u2019s date on a newspaper)I\u2019m sure there are dozens of other signs that you and every person in the world should be aware of, but this list of red flags is a good start.