How To Avoid Online Scams
There are many types of online scams but some are more common than others. The Internet is a wonderful tool that has changed the world. We can now shop online while watching TV, do our banking, book a holiday and even check in on flights to name but a few however there is a darker side that scammers and con artists relish and that is virtual crime or cyber crime as some call it.
Not only can we get this scams dropped off in our mail box saying we have won a huge cash prize we now have spam emails pretending to be the tax office, our bank and they look so real. Unfortunately the scams online are becoming more sophisticated and more common. I have put together 10 of the most common types for you to watch out for:
Nigerian 419 Scams
So who has ever had an email in their spam folder from a Nigerian business man or prince? This scam has been around since the fax machine and are what is known as advanced fee fraud scams and sadly they have increased tenfold.
The scams are often claimed to originate in Nigeria however usually this is not true fact. The number “419” refers to the section of the Nigerian Criminal Code dealing with fraud crimes and the charges and penalties for offenders. There are online versions originating from northern Europe, USA, and other African nations also.
The scam is designed to explain a history of events promising the victim a significant share of a large sum of money but in order to get this large sum the victim is asked for their help and the request in the letter along with an “honest” explanation is for a small up-front payment in order to release the for the scammer to release the large sum of money.
By now the victim is possibly hooked and wants to help as the lure of a large sum of money is like dangling a carrot in front of a donkey so they make the payment! The scammer will then run for the hills never to be heard of again or if bold enough they may possibly create another story either to if further fees in order to scam more money from a poor victim.
The scammer will send a letter via email and normally impersonates a person of stature. The letter will go along the lines of a made up story normally involving a relative of a deposed African leader or sick relative.
My advice is just to delete them. As you wouldn’t entertain a person you did not know coming up to in the street and asking you to help a former prince from a faraway country would you!
Phishing emails try to entice the intended victim into visiting a fake website disguised to look like an authentic e-Commerce or banking site but also it is common to have them from PayPal and the Tax office say you have a rebate however more recently I have been receiving spam emails supposedly from Amazon and EBay.
Now the unlucky Victims believes they are logging into their real account and unbeknown to them they are giving their personal information and access to a fake website and so everything they enter on the fake site is being sent to the scammers. From this they have passwords, secret questions and their address. A Scammer can wipe out bank accounts with the information given to them or clone their credit cards but also steal the victim’s identity.
On a positive note you can tell if these are fake as 9 out 10 times them will be in your spam folder but also look at the email address as it will normally be letters that make no sense.
Greeting Card Scams
This scam is very deceiving as it comes in shape of an email pretending to have a greeting card from a friend or relative so typically one does the normal thing and opens it and then reality strikes as more often than not the nice link is actually not so nice as it is linked to a web page that will download Trojan or malware viruses amongst other not so nice programmes.
Shopper required scam
The shopper needed scam sends the excited new sign up a cheque for a few hundred pounds or relevant currency of the target country and kindly instructs the sign up to cash the cheque and retain their share before forwarding the remaining funds to the “employer.”
Guess what? Yes the cheque is fake and so it will bounce eventually. The shocked sign up will now be liable for the funds you spent from the cheque and also plus service fees or Bank charges that will probably occur.
Due to the advancement technology it is very unlikely this type of scam can work in a lot of countries especially the UK as you can’t cash cheques over the counter anymore.
Lottery Winning scams
Lottery winning scams attempt to convince the victim that they have won a large amount of money on the lottery however the system works along the same lines as the Nigerian scam and can also be done via normal letters as well as online. This is one of the worst as it targets the people in society who need a break.
This type of scam is very easy to do as it can be written using basic HTML programming and is a popular malware delivery system. All it does is falsifies a link to that you may be familiar with and hides a virus within the link. Essentially that is what a linked scam is
In this scam our poor lonely scammer disguises himself as someone looking for love. They will begin to engage the victim and shower them with compliments and affection of their potential victim. They will often use photos from the internet to present an attractive athletic man or woman depending on the gender and sexuality of the victim.
They will target people on dating sites or in chat rooms that they know are lonely and sometimes desperate and will often say they have fallen in love very quickly remarkably quickly in an effort to attach themselves to the innocent victim who by this time is probably caught up in the moment of a fantasy.
Once they believe the target has falling for the lies, the scammer will ask for help with living expenses or the cost of a visa or flight to the victim’s home country so they can meet them or another sorry could be that the scammer will use the story that a relative is ill and needs urgent medical attention.
Sadly there is blackmail as well. All too often men especially middle aged men will get caught up in a fantasy and really believe an attractive younger lady is head over hills in love with them even though they have not met and they then will indulge in photo swapping where intimate photos they may send will then be used for blackmail purposes.
Below are is a list of things that may identify a scam so to look out for them! This is from Action Fraud a British police website:
The sender’s email address doesn’t tally with the trusted organisation’s website address.
The email is sent from a completely different address or a free web mail address.
The email does not use your proper name, but uses a non-specific greeting like “dear customer”.
A sense of urgency; for example the threat that unless you act immediately your account may be closed.
A prominent website link. These can be forged or seem very similar to the proper address, but even a single character’s difference means a different website.
A request for personal information such as user name, password or bank details.
The email contains spelling and grammatical errors.
You weren’t expecting to get an email from the company that appears to have sent it.
The entire text of the email is contained within an image rather than the usual text format.
The image contains an embedded hyperlink to a bogus site.
I hope you will never fall victim to these scams and if any of my tips prevent someone getting scammed then I know what I am doing is worth while!
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