By Ucheji Ugochukwu Samuel.
Internet fraud is a type of cyber crime fraud or deception which makes use of the Internet and could involve hiding of information or providing incorrect information for the purpose of tricking victims out of money, property, and inheritance. Internet fraud is not considered a single, distinctive crime but covers a range of illegal and illicit actions that are committed in cyberspace. It is, however, differentiated from theft since, in this case, the victim voluntarily and knowingly provides the information, money or property to the perpetrator. It is also distinguished by the way it involves temporally and spatially separated offenders.
Top Online Scams You Need to Avoid Today.
- Lottery scam
- Online dating (romance) scams
- Facebook impersonation scam (hijacked profile scam)
- Bank loan or credit card scam
- Phishing email scams
- Bitcoin blackmail scams
- Job offer scams
A lottery scam comes as an email message informing you that you won a huge amount of money and, in order to claim your prize or winnings, you need to pay some small fees.
Lucky you, right?! It doesn’t even matter that you don’t recall ever purchasing lottery tickets.
Since it addresses some of our wildest fantasies, such as quitting our jobs and living off the fortune for the rest of our lives, without ever having to work again, our imagination falls prey easily to amazing scenarios someone can only dream of.
But the dream ends as soon as you realize you have been just another scam victim.
Online dating (romance) scams
As the Internet plays an important role in our social lives, with apps like Facebook or Instagram we access every day, it’s inevitable to use apps to look for love as well.
Online dating apps are very popular these days and they are a great way to meet your future life partners. I have actually an example with a friend of mine who was lucky enough to find her future husband on a dating site.
But not all scenarios have a “happy end” like this one, and you need to be very careful because you never know who can you meet.
A romance scam usually takes place on social dating networks, like Facebook, or by sending a simple email to the potential target, and affect thousands of victims from all over the world.
The male scammers are often located in West Africa, while the female scammers are mostly from the eastern parts of Europe.
Cybercriminals have abused this scamming method for years by using online dating services. They improved their approach just by testing the potential victims’ reactions.
According to research published in the British Journal of Criminology last month, the techniques (and psychological methods) used by scammers in online romance scams are similar to those used in the domestic violence cases.
To avoid becoming a victim of these Internet scams, you need to learn how to better protect yourself.
Knowing that hundreds of women and men from all over the globe are victims of this online scams, we recommend using these security tips for defensive online dating, including warning signs that could help you from becoming an easy target.
Facebook impersonation scam (hijacked profile scam)
Everyone is talking about it these days and the scandal about Cambridge Analytica firm harvesting personal data taken from millions of this social media channel without users’ consent.
It’s still the most popular social media network where everyone is active and uses it on a daily basis to keep in touch with friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, it has become also the perfect place for online scammers to find their victims.
Just imagine your account being hacked by a cybercriminal and gaining access to your close friends and family. Nobody wants that!
Since it is so important for your privacy and online security, you should be very careful in protecting your personal online accounts just the way you protect your banking or email account.
Facebook security wise, these tips might help you stay away from these online scams:
- Do not accept friend requests from people you don’t know
- Do not share your password with others
- When logging in, use two-factor authentication
- Avoid connecting to public and free Wi-Fi networks
- Keep your browser and apps updated
Bank loan or credit card scam
People can be easily scammed by “too good to be true” bank offers that might guarantee large amounts of money and have already been pre-approved by the bank. If such an incredible pre-approved loan is offered to you, ask yourself:
“How is it possible for a bank to offer you such a large sum of money without even checking and analyzing your financial situation?”
Though it may seem unlikely for people to get trapped by this scam, there’s still a big number of people who lost money by paying the “mandatory” processing fees required by the scammers.
To better safeguard your data and prevent thieves from getting access to your payment card details, consider:
- Watching your accounts closely and monitor your online transactions;
- Taking advantage of free consumer protection services;
- Signing up for free credit monitoring.
Phishing email scams
Phishing scams continue to evolve and be a significant online threat for both users and organizations that could see their valuable data in the hands of malicious actors.
The effects of phishing attacks can be daunting, so it is essential to stay safe and learn how to detect and prevent these attacks.
Phishing scams are based on communication made via email or on social networks. In many cases, cyber criminals will send users messages/emails by trying to trick them into providing them valuable and sensitive data ( login credentials – from bank account, social network, work account, cloud storage) that can prove to be valuable for them.
Moreover, these emails will seem to come from an official source (like bank institutions or any other financial authority, legitime companies or social networks representatives for users.)
This way, they’ll use social engineering techniques by convincing you to click on a specific (and) malicious link and access a website that looks legit, but it’s actually controlled by them. You will be redirect to a fake login access page that resembles the real website. If you’re not paying attention, you might end up giving your login credentials and other personal information.
We’ve seen many spam email campaigns in which phishing were the main attack vector for malicious criminals used to spread financial and data stealing malware.
In order for their success rate to grow, scammers create a sense of urgency. They’ll tell you a frightening story of how your bank account is under threat and how you really need to access as soon as possible a site where you must insert your credentials in order to confirm your identity or your account.
After you fill in your online banking credentials, cyber criminals use them to breach your real bank account or to sell them on the dark web to other interested parties.
Bitcoin blackmail scams
Similar to how scammers will sometimes pretend to represent the tax office in the hope of coercing victims out of money, they’ll also pretend to be hackers with some kind of incriminating evidence.
One common variation of this scam arrives in the form of an unsolicited email, where the sender claims to be a hacker who has accessed your PC. They will say they’ve found some kind of incriminating evidence, or taken over your webcam to capture footage of you doing something embarrassing or which you’d rather other people didn’t know about. The emails promise to send the incriminating evidence to all of your email or social media contacts unless you send some Bitcoin to the blackmailer, and will typically include instructions on how to purchase Bitcoin and where to send it.
Naturally, it’s all a lie. The phony blackmailers don’t have any evidence and nothing will happen regardless of whether or not you make a payment. This scam is purely a numbers game, where the perpetrators hope that by sending out enough emails they’ll scare enough people into sending them some Bitcoin.
How to avoid Bitcoin blackmail scams
- Search online to see if other people are saying they’ve received the same email
- Don’t believe the scammers
- Consider using VPNs to browse more privately, for additional peace of mind against this type of scam
Job offer scams
Sadly, there are scammers everywhere – even when you are looking for a job – posing as recruiters or employers. They use fake and “attractive” job opportunities to trick people.
It starts with a phone call (or a direct message on LinkedIn) from someone claiming to be a recruiter from a well-known company who saw your CV and saying they are interested in hiring you. Whether you’ve applied or not, the offer might be very appealing, but don’t fall into this trap.
To protect yourself from job offer scams, it’s very important to:
- Do thorough research about the company and see what information you can find about it;
- Check the person who’s been contacted you on social media channels;
- Ask for many details and references and check them out;
- Ask your friends or trustworthy people if they know or interacted with the potential employer.
Since some scams are so well organized and really convincing, and people behind them so difficult to catch, we need to always keep our guard up. Stay informed about the latest scamming strategies.