Internet Fraud: Things you should be aware of

Internet fraud is a billion-dollar operation with new and sophisticated scams invented every day. As the world gets more connected to the internet, many unsuspecting users are falling for one of the more common and longstanding scams outlined below with pointers on how to spot if it is indeed a scam
The fake job or “help me take my money out of the country” scam
This is by now a well-known scam, yet still it is in existence. If you have an email address or have visited a jobseeker site then you have likely received one of these emails. This email usually asks for your assistance in taking large sums of money out of a West African country and depositing in your bank account for a lucrative fee. Do not accept an invitation to receive funds, keep 8-10 percent and then send the remainder to a foreign address via a money transfer company such as Western Union.
The “you are a lottery winner” scam
Scammers are smart, so now the email tends to include verifiable information, which you can check with the national lottery of the relevant country. The most common things put in the email are
– the draw number, date and winning numbers and, of course, the amount;
– the name and address of something legitimate that is lottery-related;
– a logo or scanned copy of the winning cheque or a winner’s certificate.
You should know that this is a scam, as you have not bought a ticket you cannot win in the lottery.
Announcement of the winner is not done by email. All lottery bodies subtract the relevant fees from the lottery price and do not ask the winner to pay any upfront fees.
Increasingly, these messages have also been coming via SMS. Delete and, if possible, ask your mobile provider to block the source

 The bank
verification scam

These have been very prolific in the last few years with the rise of more people banking online.
This email asks you to 'verify your account', or 'confirm your sign-in  details'. No bank would ever ask you to do that. If you look closer you will see that the email address is usually fishy. Here is an example of a common email sent allegedly from the bank:
“This email was sent by the [Bank Name]  server to verify your e-mail address. You must complete this process by clicking on the link below and entering in the small window your [Bank Name] ATM/Debit Card number and PIN that you use on ATM. This is done for your protection -I- because some of our members no longer have access to their email addresses and we must verify it.
“To verify your e-mail address and access your bank account, click on the link below. If nothing happens when you click on the link (or if you use AOL)p, copy and paste the link into the address bar of your web browser.”
Victims will usually click on the link and enter their banking details not knowing that this information is going to the scammers. If you receive such an email and you are in doubt you should do the following:
Contact your bank and verify that they indeed have sent the email.
No bank would ever ask you to do that.  If you look closer, you will see that the email address is usually fishy ending with a yahoo, cc or hotmail. With the reply to address being different from the sender. Don’t fall for it.

 Love or friendship email scam

This scammer preys on emotionally vulnerable people, usually, men and women who are lonely and start online relationships via an online dating site or via email.
In the initial phase, the scammer will be sending you emails or calling you several times a day. The email will rarely address the victim by name preferring terms such as “baby’ or “angel” etc. The scammer will declare his love for the victim very quickly using phrases such as “Remember the distance or colour does not matter, but love matters a lot in life”. Once the scammer detects that you are committed to the relationship that is when the real rollercoaster begins.

You know you are dealing with a scammer for sure when the following scenarios crop up:
1.      Your “friend” now wants to visit you but cannot afford the airplane ticket;
2.       Your “friend” has a sick relative and cannot afford the hospital treatment;
3.       Your “friend” has a family member in serious debt who has been threatened with bankruptcy or gangsters;
4.       Your “friend” now has a complicated illness (which he/she has not told you about before in case it “turned you off”) and cannot afford the treatment;
5.       Your “friend” wants some “proof” of how you feel and wants some presents
6.       Your “friend” needs to buy some “school books” and cannot afford them;
7.       Your “friend” wants you to receive a package and forward it on their behalf.

 If you start questioning all of your money being spent, the following scenario might occur and someone other than your “friend” will email you with more of the following:
1.            A strange person has information about your “friend” and is willing to sell it for some money
2.            An investigator has information that you have been scammed and will help you recover your money for some “investigation fees”
3.             A stranger will inform you that your “friend” has been kidnapped and will be murdered unless you pay them money.
There are many variations of the scams mentioned above and scammers are sophisticated.
Scammers are increasingly using social networks, such as Facebook. Remember, a scammer will not stop until the victim has no more money. A scammer multi-tasks and is usually working on several victims at the same time. After all, there are plenty of unsuspecting fish out there. Don’t be one of them.

July 2013
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