As you read the next email in your box about how the widow of the former leader of Mubai needs your help getting her deceased hubby’s millions out of the corrupt grasp of that nation’s banks, rest assured, internet crime has already moved well past those clumsy attempts to use your money for the personal gain of some anonymous internet scammer.

One of the most prevalent scams today is the HYIP, or High Yield Investment Program. These programs are nothing new. More than one hundred years ago, businessmen requiring quick capital began enticing investors with promises of a quick and profitable return on their money. In some instances, these “investments” were more like contributions, as many, many investors lost their shirts when their finance dreams went belly-up. In essence, HYIPs have always been risky business.

Once a real investment opportunity, HYIPs realized an entirely new purpose when Charles Ponzi entered the picture in the early 1900’s. Ponzi needed money for his newly conceptualized business and decided to entice investors by promising a fifty percent return on their money in less than two months. Not content to stop there, Ponzi also promised investors that they would double their money in three months! However, since Ponzi was using the money from subsequent investors to pay off initial investors, it was only a matter of time before his scheme came tumbling down. The problem with these types of schemes is that they don’t depend on any real business profits, just the continued influx of cash from new investors.

The opportunities presented by this type of scheme have been too good for internet scammers to ignore. Now, it’s not your son-in-law asking for startup capital for his dream business, but rather some anonymous criminal looking to part you from your money and run.

The ongoing course of HYIP scams really makes it difficult for the little guy to try to get a piece of the big guy’s pie. Thus, the little guy has to really do his/her research in all HYIP programs in order to make sure he/she does not get left with empty pockets. All HYIP programs are not bad, but the good ones are few and far between. The last thing anyone should go through is to wonder whether or not has he/she seen their last dollar. Therefore, keep your eyes and ears open and your bank account closed because it is not too funny living with no money.