Cyber fraudsters are quick to exploit the news for their own benefit, but many schemes are timeless, regardless of what is in the news. Here are 5 common scams you should watch out for.
Cybercriminals can be very creative when it comes to scamming people into money. They will use various methods to target their victims, ranging from identity theft of officials to setting up fraudulent online stores. They have proven time and time again to be very nimble, tailoring their scams to various hot topics.
In recent months, many scams have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, masquerading as health officials or offering to sell protective gear that was in short supply. Until December 16, the United States Federal Trade Commission received more than 275,000 reports of fraud and identity theft linked to the pandemic, with victims claiming a total loss of US $ 211 million. Today, scams are being made to try to profit from the launch of the vaccine.
But make no mistake: Scammers don’t launch their campaigns just after a public health emergency or a global event. The European Commission recently conducted a survey on consumers’ experiences of fraud and scams and found that more than half of Europeans polled had been victims of at least one type of scam in the past two years.
Fraud takes many forms, and we’ve identified five common mechanisms that scammers attempt to extract money from their victims, throughout the year, regardless of what makes the headlines. We also give you some tips to avoid falling victim to these schemes.
Online shopping and auction scams
One of the many ways that scammers like to target victims is through the online business scam. During the pandemic, these scams have seen an upsurge, particularly due to the shortage of certain products, such as masks and hand sanitizers. More broadly, however, by using a sophisticated design that may be accompanied by a stolen logo, scammers create a fake retail website pretending to be a reputable seller and offer luxury goods from famous brands to brands. ridiculously low price. However, once you have placed an order you will either receive a counterfeit product or nothing at all, or worse yet, if you have provided your credit card information. Fraudsters have also taken to social media and started offering their products there. Cybercriminals use another similar tactic to defraud their victims – the auction scam. Scammers create a fake auction by offering an item they don’t have, or copy an actual auction listing, and once the potential buyer wins the auction and pays the price awarded, the victim never receives the product.
To reduce the chances of losing money to these scams, you should always be diligent and research the seller you are buying from by looking at their terms of service, privacy and return policies. You should also try to find reviews from other customers who have ordered from the website. If the seller asks you to disclose too much personal information, this should immediately be a red flag. Perhaps the best and safest advice would be to buy the product from a reputable, proven seller.
Mule scams can take many forms, but the objective of the criminals who practice it remains the same: to move money from illicit activities without being able to be traced. To achieve their mission, the crooks will target their victims through various means: by tricking them into working from home, which is not a far-fetched concept given the current pandemic situation, or by using online dating services to create a relationship. Once they gain the victim’s trust, they will send him money or a check and ask him to send it to someone else.. The results are diverse; depending on the scam you can submit a fake check that will initially be cashed … but then be refused and your bank will ask you to pay it back, or you can transfer money on behalf of a criminal and you will end up with legal issues.
The advice, in this case, is simple: if the remote employment in question involves the transfer of money for the client to purported clients or contractors, do not accept it; the risks associated with accepting such jobs online far outweigh any benefits. If your new online dating is trying to trick you into sending money somewhere on their behalf, you should be wary and refuse to do so, especially if you’ve never met them except online; scams abound and some victims blinded by love have ended up losing their savings and in some cases faced legal action.
Lottery and Prize Scams
Lottery and prize scams, which fall under the category of cash advance fraud, typically begin with the potential victim receiving an unsolicited email, phone call or text message claiming to have won. a large sum of money or some sort of luxury prize. The message will include pressure tactics indicating to the victim that they have limited time to respond and claim the prize, but that in order to do so, they will have to pay a fee covering taxes or shipping costs, or other imaginary costs. As the contest is bogus, the victim will not receive any of these “winnings” after paying the incidentals.
Victims can also be asked to enter a contest or lottery with astronomical prizes and are told they can increase their odds by paying for covert tactics or for additional draws. The only result, however, will be that the victim will be cheated of money.
To avoid losing your hard earned money on such scams, you can activate a spam filter, which should prevent most of these scam emails from ending up in your inbox. If some of these emails get through the cracks and you know you haven’t entered a contest or lottery, ignore them and mark them as spam. However, if you still want to read them, you should be aware of the signs we have mentioned earlier, such as additional fees to claim your prize or winnings. You can also search for the company or the promoter who claims to be behind the competition; if it is not legitimate, you will find either little or no information about them, or complaints from victims who have fallen into their trap.
These scams are found mostly – but not only – during the respective tax seasons in different countries. However, cybercriminals do not use a uniform method; rather, they resort to several types of tax evasion. One of the most common tactics is to use phishing emails to impersonate the local tax authority, where they attempt to obtain sensitive personal and financial information from their victims that they can use to commit. financial and identity fraud. The crooks behind these attacks may try to trick you into pretending that you made a mistake while filing taxes., or use intimidation tactics and threats by pretending that you have an overdue tax bill or that you will face penalties if you do not act quickly.
There are many ways to protect yourself. If you receive an email claiming to be from your tax authority, the easiest way to check if it is real is to contact your tax authority directly to verify if the email was sent by them; a telltale sign could be that you are receiving a notification about a tax return that you have not filed. If you receive a suspicious call littered with threats, demand the name and identification of the agent, and check with the appropriate authorities again. It should be noted that a real agent would probably not use any type of threat and would just notify you of any mistakes on your part.
Investment scams are commonly known for their promises of high profits and quick returns, or for their “certified” advice that will earn you huge sums of money. While the offers vary depending on how you get rich and how much you return on your investment, the key message remains the same: multiply your investment quickly and easily. Scammers use various strategies to defraud their victims, such as the Ponzi scheme, phone calls, or overpriced sales.
Whatever trick scammers try to use, they usually start by opening up a channel of communication, for example by email. Fraudsters will praise you their merits by offering you the opportunity to increase your initial investment tenfold, or they can pose as a representative of a real investment company; otherwise, the investment may be real but the benefits never paid. In any case, the only people who will get rich from this system will be the criminals.
First of all, it is safe to remember that there is no such thing as a guaranteed investment or a method that allows you to make money easily. If an offer like this comes to you and sparks your interest, you should definitely review it by learning about the offer and the company associated with it. Even if the investment and the company both turn out to be real, you should also verify the identity of the person offering you the deal.
Lessons to remember
Unfortunately, cybercrime activity is not going to go away anytime soon. But the good news is that by staying vigilant, always checking all available information, and being vigilant, you can spot scams for miles around. To paraphrase a well-known Russian proverb, trust only after checking.