We’ll get into detail about the top internet scams below.
Phishing, or the act of sending fraudulent emails to obtain personal
data, happens on a daily basis all around the world. Even if you might not be
an obvious target, such as a wealthy businessman or an individual who does
hefty online shopping, scammers will attempt to lure you in at one time or
These types of emails range from winning a lottery you never signed up
for to inheriting a large amount from a long-lost relative or even being asked
to help refugees from a war-torn country or area affected by a natural
To say that phishing internet scams are common would be an
understatement; there are high chances that you will find an attempt in your
spam folder right now if you haven’t recently cleared it out.
Another few very
clear examples of phishing are:
- Shaky business ‘opportunities’
- Suspicious rental offers
- Dream holiday deals
- Miraculous health cures
- False government agency messages
- Charity donation requests
If you use one of the top email providers (like Gmail or Yahoo), most of
these messages will be filtered and reach your spam folder. However, home
hackers go the extra mile to make sure they hit your inbox. The majority come
from obscure email addresses, individuals you have never connected with before
and titles and body text content that create a sense of urgency.
How Do They Do It?
In a nutshell, phishing works by leading an unprepared internet user
into openly providing personal or sensitive information to hackers. The
information can be extracted by internet scammers either by a user willingly
offering it when completing a form or replying to an email. In other cases,
clicking a link can lead to malware being automatically downloaded to the user’s
device, such as a Trojan Horse. In an unfortunate amount of situations, the
user might not even be aware that their information has been stolen by a
So, how do internet scammers
First of all, they obtain your email address from a source. Some use the
same tactics that spammers do, while others pinpoint specific individuals or
Secondly, the phisher sets up the website, bank account or another source for collecting the victim’s
information. Most put in a lot of thought and care into the setup for
credibility in the eyes of the user.
Thirdly, they send the email with a carefully crafted message. Phishers
usually disguise themselves as a reputable source (like your bank) or an
extremely wealthy individual that asks for your collaboration. We’ll expand
more on how to point out phishing scenarios below.
Lastly, the phishers collect your personal information and use it for
malicious purposes. These can range from minor online purchases to driving a business to bankruptcy.
Don't Become a Victim
If you haven’t realized this by now, phishing is far more than meets the
eye. A moment of ignorance can lead to extreme money loss or, even worse,
complete identity theft. There are plenty of ways you can prevent phishing, as
long as you pay attention to the following aspects:
- Do not respond to strange emails. This goes
without saying, but if an African billionaire has chosen you, out of all
people, to inherit their funds, it will always be a scam. Do not answer the
email at all and block the address you received it from.
- Know how to spot phishing. Internet
scammers are clever and most of them have surpassed the ‘Nigerian prince’
stage. Many will have credibility on their side by posing as your local bank or
a similar official source. If you ever receive a suspicious email soliciting
any personal data, call your bank or the apparent source and speak to one of
their representatives personally.
- Do not click the links. The majority of
phishing cases will involve a link to an external website. If you click it, you
risk being infected by malicious software that can extract your bank details
and other sensitive personal information. Never click any link in a spam-like
- Research other prevention methods. Take a
bit of time to read articles
about online fraud prevention. The insight you get might help you dodge a
Money Laundering Schemes
Although you might have no intention whatsoever of digitally laundering
money, you might get caught up in internet scams that make you a culprit.
Online gaming and gambling are some of the most common ways that ill-prepared
internet users end up in money laundering frauds without their knowledge. In
addition to these, you might find yourself in a money muling scheme through one
of the email templates we described above.
If you are ever asked to transfer an
amount of money by somebody unknown (even if the request comes from a suffering
widow from a foreign country), do not
comply or answer the message in any way.
Money Laundering via Online Gaming
Online gaming is one of the most frequent scenarios for laundering money
online. The gaming community is prone to such attacks because users tend to
invest a considerable amount of money on game options. Those who fall under the
category of ‘hardcore gamers’ will spend thousands on building characters,
boosting skills and so on. As for money laundering through online games, this
is achieved though creating multiple accounts to transfer money from one to the
Massive multi-player online role playing games are among the top targets
for online money laundering. World of Warcraft or Second Life works with credits that can be exchanged for
real money, making it an open opportunity for internet scams. Criminals can
easily carry out these transactions with no detection.
Risks of Online Gambling
Online gambling is no less dangerous than gaming when it comes to money
laundering. There are several reasons while online gambling is used as a tool
for illegal purposes:
- In a great number of jurisdictions,
winnings obtained from gambling are not subject to taxes.
- There is no cash involved, only digital
- There are countless transactions in online
gambling that are difficult to track.
Although we recommend avoiding online gambling altogether, we recommend
that those who do play use only licensed platforms. If you see any suspicious or potentially malicious activity on your
account or as a user on the website, contact the developers as soon as
Bank Loan or Credit Card Scams
As we previously described, a great deal
of internet scams involves entities posing as banks or other financial
institutions. With credibility on their side, the scammers can successfully
obtain your bank information and have complete access to your finances. Whether
they be instant approvals for loans or credit card schemes, these threats are
everywhere and should be treated with tremendous caution. Only work with
financial institutions that you trust, initially face-to-face, if possible.
It’s most likely that a random email approving you for credit will end up in
your bank account information being compromised. Below you can find out about
the two biggest scams of this kind, but you can always learn more about preventing online fraud through additional resources.
You should never be asked to pay
advance fees when applying for a loan. To help you understand a potential loan scam, picture this. You open
your inbox one day and see an email that you are approved for a loan you would
greatly need at the moment. You don’t do much research on the source and
voluntarily provide all the necessary papers and bank information to confirm
your approval. You are asked to pay a processing fee or other advance payments
in order to be cleared. After you pay these fees, you not only lose the money,
but your bank information is already in the wrong hands. To avoid this
horrendous scenario, do not respond to any obscure emails promising loans.
Money Transfer Scams
We briefly spoke about the dangers of money laundering and how you could
be asked to take part in a transfer. Usually, these requests appear in the form
of a helpless individual (like the vulnerable widow we spoke about) wanting to
get money out of the country. Even though you might be promised an impressive
cut for your efforts, you should never comply. Not only would you be engaging
in a potentially illegal activity if it were true, but you could also end up
without access to your credit cards or even your identity as a result.
Who are Internet Scammers Targeting?
The answer is simple: anybody and everybody. Regardless if you’re 13 and
you have just created your first email address or you are a grandmother that
uses the internet to keep in touch with your children, you are very much prone
to internet scams. Business owners, both large and small, are just as much a
target for internet scammers as any other individual.
To put it shortly, anyone
with an email address, a website or a social media account can have their
information compromised if not attentive.
But what sets you apart from other internet users? You can access resources and sharpen your
skills to prevent any
of these disasters from taking place.
Risks for Small Business Owners
There are a few well-known internet scams that target small business owners.
While they range from false complaints to overpayments, entrepreneurs should
always keep their eyes wide open for any suspicious emails that could turn into
- False billing. Small business owners could
be contacted by false directories to update their company information. After
that, they will be billed for ads they have never placed or other similar
services. By the end of the ordeal, the business owner ends up paying to avoid
- False complaints. An email is sent with an
apparent complaint and a link to an external website. The business owner clicks
the link and malicious software is automatically downloaded on their computer.
- Overpayment. A customer apparently writes a
check for a larger amount than the product they have ordered. They ask that the
difference is sent to them electronically after the business owner cashes the
Senior Citizens Targeted Online
Due to their lack of tech know-how, senior citizens are unfortunately
one of the top targets for internet scammers. If you are among the elderly,
make sure that you never provide login credentials, bank information or any
personal details if asked to via emails. As for user IDs and passwords, you
will only be asked to use them when signing into a certain platform or if you
specifically request their retrieval or to reset them. If you receive any
emails with individuals posing as your grandchildren asking for urgent money –
or even worse, ransom threats – contact your local authorities.
Online Dating Site Users
To get things clear, you should never send money to somebody who is
trying to build a romantic relationship with you online. Some of these internet
scammers know exactly how to speak to people in order to gain their trust, so never
transfer money or offer any information that can be compromised. In addition to
this, you should try to develop relationships as locally as possible.
Protect Yourself Against Online Scams
Also, you can learn about fraud investigation techniques, fraud investigative interviewing and fraud awareness through telephone
Stay Safe from Telecoms Fraud
Telecoms fraud is just as dangerous as internet scams. You have access
to resources to develop basic investigation skills and even engage in a course for foundation level telecommunications
fraud. You can use the knowledge and information you gain to
prevent others from becoming victims of telecom frauds as well.
Steps to Take Against Cybercrimes
Is Your Device Secure
You know by now that you should never answer dodgy emails, but how do
you know that the devices you are using are fully secure? Even though this may
seem like a basic step, make sure that you have quality antivirus software installed and running on your device. It
is recommended that you invest in a high-quality antivirus and not rely just on
Be very careful with
fake antivirus software, which might be advertised to you in the form of a
pop-up on a website alerting you of being infected. Only purchase this type of
software (and any programs, for that matter) from a source you genuinely trust.
Some other steps you should take to make sure that your device is secure are:
- Protect any personal information on social
media. If possible, avoid providing any sensitive information at all, even if
it is only to your list of friends.
- Don’t click any shortlinks that don’t come
from a reliable source. If you aren’t sure about the origins and you want to
check, you can use a tool like http://www.checkshorturl.com
- Don’t download any email attachments from
obscure sources. Be careful who you receive files from and take extra care with
the extension of these files (.exe, for example, can indicate malware instead
of the photo you were promised).
- Keep your passwords as complicated and
isolated as possible. Do not use the same password for more than one website
and make sure you change them on a monthly basis.
We know it’s a lot to take in, but it will help you prevent numerous
Spot & Report Suspicious Activity
Last but certainly not least, always keep an eye out for any kind of
suspicious activity. You can never be too careful with these issues and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. In
most cases, if you feel that something distrustful is going on, it most likely
is. You should trust your instinct and steer clear of any wary emails, websites
and links you might come across. Use the information we have shared with you in
this guide to spot any troublesome
activity, and even continue your studies with a certified course.
If you do come across any blatantly suspicious activity, report it
immediately. All notable social media websites have a report option, so you
shouldn’t hesitate to use it if this is the case. The same goes for email
services. Even if you succeeded in avoiding phishing or other internet scams,
some other users might not possess the knowledge you do and could end up being
victims of internet scams.
As a final word, never share your password, bank information or other
personal details with anybody, not even close friends or family members. You
never know when this information can be compromised and you could end up in
debt or with a stolen identity. Stay safe when browsing online and always
question any link, message or attachment you receive.