The word “scam” relates to fraud, a dishonest scheme with the intention to deceive and take money or other goods from an innocent victim. The individual who commits the scam is known as a “swindler“, “scammer”, or “crook”. They tend to rely on the most common types of scams in their business – which you’ll be learning all about today.
Public transportation was a common platform for “estafadores” or scammers in my home country, Venezuela.
One day, I decided to observe and notice how they operated, and more importantly – why they succeeded in their scams.
They had different scripts. Some days, they pretended they lost a family member, so they were collecting money to go to the funeral.
On other days they shared a sad story about how they were robbed, so they were seeking assistance because they were out of money and needed to return to where they came from. They pretended to have different physical disabilities or illnesses. Every time, they played a character to exploit people’s emotions and called upon the good intentions we have to help others.
Losing money or something that you value as a result of a scam can be devastating. It is something that affects our emotions and it is personal. Someone has played us and that feeling is something that can hunt us for a long time. Being scammed can affect our relationships and trust in others. It may also create feelings of guilt, self blame, shame or embarrassment because the scammer managed to trick us.
In the world of technology, we are faced with a big challenge because our cyber world is plagued with scammers that are seeking ways to deceive us, and play on our emotions. They send scam emails and text messages, and use fake profiles to carry out their many online scams, such as credit card fraud.
The good news is that, just like I recognized the scammers’ techniques, you can, too! I’m going to show you how to identify scammers online, and start being in charge of your cyber safety.
Let’s explore: What are the most common types of scams?
In this type of scam, a cyber criminal adopts a fake online identity to gain your trust and affection, using the illusion of a romantic relationship. Romance scams can happen easily because anyone can pretend to be someone else online. This type of crime could affect anyone, especially during times when you feel vulnerable or lonely, and are seeking human connection.
Romance scammers reach out to a large number of potential victims, and use the personal data you share in social media sites as ways to establish a profile and gain your trust. The intention of the scam is to obtain your money, get into your life savings, your bank account information, convince you to send gift cards to help family members or send a wire transfer, all through a false promise, and sadly, possibly the worst scam of all is the promise of true love.
Lottery and Sweepstakes Scams
Cybermonsters will request a payment from you, claiming that you won the lottery, a fake or fictitious prize, or gifts.
You could receive this type of scam via phishing emails, phone scams or in your snail mail. We may fall for these if we want to feel special. Cybermonsters take advantage of our optimism and the feeling we are lucky and that we have won! Their intention is to steal your money. What’s worse, you could become an identity theft victim like I have. What you want to keep in mind is this: If something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
Online shopping scams
Cybermonsters pretend to be legit sellers even to the point of building a fake website or even using genuine websites for placing ads to their scam , which is known as malvertising.
Social media platforms are filled with fake online stores. Scammers would ask you to send money orders, pre-loaded cards, wire transfers, or a reloadable card.
Banking or investment scams
Many of these scams happen frequently, because Cryptocurrency is getting popular and there is enthusiasm and buzz around it. It attracts cyber criminals that will try to lure victims to amazing opportunities for investing or mining cryptocurrencies. Scammers may mislead you to believe that these scams are sponsored by celebrities or known public figures.
Many potential scams live in our email inbox as phishing:
- Emails related to unemployment benefits, medical expenses, vaccines, or finances
- Someone pretending to be your credit card company, employer, bank or any other financial institution
- Asking you to change your password and account information
All of these are sent out with the intention to obtain your sensitive information and cause damage to your family, your business or yourself.
What can we do to prevent and recognize scammers?
I avoided the public transportation scammers in a simple way: I ignored them!
I invite you to do the same in your cyber world.
Realizing you are in charge of your cyber safety is powerful and changes everything! Now that you know the most common types of scams, you can avoid them much more easily.
You can ignore or best send unwanted emails to your Spam folder, silence unknown phone calls, ignore friend requests in social media from people you don’t know, get into the donotcall.gov so you stop receiving telemarketing calls, use meaningful passwords and activate two-factor authentication, as much as possible.
Take action NOW to prevent becoming a victim
Today, select five emails that you aren’t waiting for or that may have a suspicious activity or ask you to take an immediate action, mark them as Spam. The more you do this, the less your email platform will show you these types of emails.
What other tips are you incorporating to get rid of the spammers? Share with us below!