How To Commit Fraud Like They Did in The 1980’s

Fraud and scamming has gotten so technical and hard these days. But it didn’t used to be that way. In fact, fraud used to be absurdly basic by today’s standards.

This weekend I stumbled across a link – a treasure trove of old fraud and scam guides created in the 80’s and early 90’s. You can check out the link here for yourself and browse what types of scams people were sharing in simpler times – The Index of Old Scams and Frauds

Before Social Media, There Were Bulletin Boards

Before Facebook, before Myspace, and before Friendster people used to communicate on the internet using bulletin boards.

Bulletin boards were basically computer servers running software that allowed users to connect to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, the users could perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users through public message boards and sometimes via direct chatting. In the early 1980s, it was message networks such as FidoNet that sprang up to provide services such as NetMail, which is similar to internet based email.

It was bulletin boards that also served as a place where the earliest scammers and fraudsters shared their recipes on how to commit fraud with each other.

Here Are Some Samples of Old Totally Radical Fraud and Scams Shared Back in the 80’s

Frauds in the 1980’s were basically a new thing but they were pretty rad. Here are some of the more interesting examples for your reading pleasure.

#1 – How to Make Your Own Amex Cards

Written by a guy named Saturday Knight sometime in the 1980’s. This tutorial shows you how to tumble AMEX numbers by changing the last 2 digits of an AMEX number until you hit on a valid number.

#2 – How to Card 101 The No Bullshit Way

Written by a fairly angry guy who interestingly enough goes under the pen name “Angry Guy”. This guy tells you how to do carding with no bullshit or sugar coating.

#3 – How To Do Check Fraud

Check fraud is the original fraudsters delight. In this tutorial from the 80’s, by Disk Jockey he gives you some of the most very basic advice on how to do check fraud right.

#4 – How To Hack Visa

Mode 10 checking was so popular that so many people were instructing others how to do it. There was even a program called Credit Card.exe which would tumble thousands of credit card numbers for you instantly. This tutorial showed you how to do it manually.

#5 – How to Cheat Video Games

Who didn’t love Asteroids and Space Invaders growing up in the 80’s? I used to take 100% of my paper route money and drop it into the video game machines down at the Silver Cue in Chula Vista every single week. This tutorial showed kids how to cheat the video games to play for free.

#6 – How To Scam Coke Machines

Oliver Clothezoffe claims he used to get $20 in change out of his coke machines from school so he shares his scam technique with you in the tutorial. The whole concept is that you tape the dollar a special way, so when you put it
into the machine, you pull it out, it’s really cool, you not only get change, but you get a free Coke. Obviously this tutorial is so old it was written when Cokes were .50 cents.

#7 – How to Scam From Scam Magazine

Check out this early edition of Scam Magazine from 1993. This magazine used to be free to everyone on the Bulletin Boards. This edition shows you how to scam credit bureaus, verify credit cards and make up new social security numbers.

#8 How To Create A New Credit File

Whoever said Synthetic Identity is a new fraud trend? It’s actually been around for 30 plus years and it was a hot trend in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Check out this online tutorial on how to to create a new credit profile. It was also called File Segregation at the time, but synthetic identity sounds so much cooler.

#9 – How to Mail Letters for Free

Snail mail used to be the primary tool for scammers. With chain letters and tons of other scams, they relied on snail mail to perpetrate their scams. In this tutorial however a scammer shows you how to mail letters for free by switching the sender and the receiver on the envelope and not including postage.

Since the post office cannot deliver mail without the correct postage they will return the mail to the sender – which is actually the receiver because you switched them on the envelope.

#10 – How to Commit Various Credit Card Frauds

L.E Pirate teaches you all the tricks he has learned for obtaining and using stolen credit cards. This was written back in 1987 when Warzone (a punk band) was releasing a new album.

#11 – How to Rip Off Pepsi Machines

Pepsi and Coke were at war in the 80’s with the Pepsi challenge. So it’s only fair that fraudsters and scammers had techniques to rip off each of these companies. But this scam is completely different. For this, the scammer recommends that you stick your arm up the can dispenser as far as you can and pull out the Vinyl bag containing the change. He said you have to have really skinny arms to pull this one off.

#12 – How to Get Cassette Tapes and CD’s for Free

Remember these Colombia House ads where you could get 10 cd’s for a penny? The 10 albums were just a loss leader to get you to pay exorbitant prices for future albums they would send you with a monthly subscription.

Well this scammer figured out a way to get those 10 CD’s for a penny and then never pay Colombia House another penny again. What did he do? He merely took a black marker and wrote “deceased” on the invoice and sent it back to Colombia House. He never got a bill again.

Thanks for reading everyone!

I am Frank McKenna, a fraud expert from San Diego. The views and opinions expressed here are entirely my own and do not reflect those of Point Predictive.