Although in many cases, clicking on sound lists on the web can mean falling for a little scam, this time, we’re going to list 10 real risks that can often lead you into much more severe traps.
The turning point came in 2008 when cybercrime in the US brought in more money for organized criminals than drug trafficking. This amounted to $105 billion at the time.
Since then, experts have seen a complete transformation in crime, with traditional crimes with higher bust rates being replaced, if not replaced, then complemented and outperformed by online computer scams and frauds that offer greater anonymity. Let’s take a look at the list of ten.
1. Scams evolve in a sequential way
In the Richard Dawkinsian sense of the word meme, every attack incident that takes place is already a possible practical example for other criminals, who are not only ingenious but also learn from their own and other gangs’ methods and mistakes, making the scams more sophisticated, more professional and more customized. Tried and tested techniques are becoming more sophisticated; think of the Fed-Ex tube-core scam, which has taken off several countries. The good news is that we, too, can build on each other’s experience and security awareness and, over time, become more effective at spotting suspicious signs.
2. We leave a lot of information crumbs behind
It has been said several times that it is not worth being too revealing on the internet, as you don’t know who will eventually receive your photo or information; for example, it is not worth announcing in advance on social media that you are going on holiday. In addition to mass spam campaigns, increasingly deliberate and targeted attacks were stolen, leaked, or publicly available data can be used to deceive victims more effectively.
3. Fraudsters are clever at deception
There are many scammers on the internet, such as professional scammers on dating sites. They use fake profiles, have a ready-made script to lure victims in, have a proven formula for avoiding prosecution, and are very effective at selecting vulnerable targets to victimize financially. The film Tinder Svidler and the Netflix series The Masquerade of the Heiress are good examples of this.
In this respect, it can (also) be a good compass that when something is too good to be true, there is usually an ulterior motive behind it.
4. Scammers put us under pressure, and we hurry
You will usually find urgency alongside the bad spelling when you pick up the warning signs. The urgency can take the form that our bank account is being hacked, and if we don’t want the money stolen or the account frozen, we should click immediately. But urgency is also when a fantastic-sounding discount is only available for a limited time and in limited quantities, so if someone wants to “get a good deal”, they need to hurry.
And haste goes hand in hand with carelessness, inattention, and more frequent mistakes on the part of the victims. It is worth stopping and thinking before making decisions, cat-tailing, and providing confidential, personal information.
5. Everyone loves a free lunch
We like to have a good time, get a free iPhone or electric scooter, or mention a recent scam. During the Covid period, a message was sent “on behalf” of the Austrian government offering alleged financial assistance, referring to the WHO. After filling in detailed personal and bank details, we were promised 375 EUR, which would have required our bitcoin wallet, but of course, it was a scam.
If you are notified of an investment with exceptional returns, Bili Gates offers you his fortune, or a similar great offer comes your way, you should be on the lookout and be suspicious.
6. The majority of people are trying to comply
People tend to trust those in positions of power. Fraudsters often pose as people with some expertise or who we can depend on through their power: a government administrator, a debt collection lawyer, a corporate executive, or an expert in a particular field. In Eastern Europe, this is also due to the Prussian school system, where the adult, the teacher, and the boss are automatically correct. It’s worth getting over this, not necessarily because of online scammers.
7. They distract us with good timing
If a fake electricity bill arrives in the middle of the year-end rush, you may be more inclined to pay it quickly and, for a medium amount, transfer it quickly without thinking about it.
Similar thinking can be observed, for example, in corporate attacks, which are often timed during holidays or weekends, with criminals expecting that the reduced staff and less attention or the weekend break will give them more time and opportunity to attack, and only later will they notice the intrusion, hacking or data theft.
8. Fraudsters go their way
The attackers are often in the lead, while the defense only reacts to events. When an unexpected message or phone call comes in, it is an unexpected and disturbing factor for us. The criminal goes his own way, with plenty of experience and concentration to stalk his victim.
We need to be prepared for the unexpected, so we don’t allow ourselves to be rushed. Think about or discuss the situation with those around you and live with a healthy suspicion in different situations. Give our full attention to the decision and reaction; if we are suspicious, we may break off communication.
9. We want to help
For example, messages that ask for help evoke pity and empathy when we hear about personal tragedies or emergencies. Many fake charity fundraisers take advantage of this, whether they base their stories on current events or the tried and tested practice of using child cancer and baby heart surgery as a cover for repulsive scams on Facebook, for example.
Scammers have realized that people like to feel useful, for example, by making phone calls to help flood victims without getting out of their chairs. Still, it is always worth being vigilant and checking the authenticity of appeals and organizations’ backgrounds.
10. Scammers are observant, tuning in to their victims
This is not empathy but rather a characteristic of sociopathic behavior, trying to gain the victim’s trust, feigning attention to achieve their goal, using bait and switch, and forced kindness. Romantic scams are a typical example of this, targeting mainly older and well-off single women and exploiting loneliness and gullibility using a template scam. These involve a widowed soldier serving abroad or a well-paid oil worker working on a rig who unexpectedly runs into trouble and asks for a temporary loan from her newly met online partner.
It’s worth learning about the typical scams and scams; armed with this knowledge; you can be in a better position.
What can we do?
And finally, a little lesson. At the end of each typical example, we have tried to outline ways of prevention and protection, but in addition – and repeatedly – we should mention the use of strong and unique passwords and the use of up-to-date anti-virus protection to detect phishing.
And if we are being defrauded or harmed, we should report it immediately and contact our bank immediately. And if our online accounts are compromised, take the necessary action without delay.
We often think that we are too smart to fall for a scam, but the truth is that anyone can be scammed. Whether it’s an email phishing scam or a fake investment opportunity, there are many ways that scammers can take advantage of us. The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of the most common scams and how to avoid them. Doing your research and being cautious of red flags can help keep yourself safe from becoming a scam victim.