The prevalence of online scams was caused by the rapid growth of social media platforms where people can be contacted by fraudsters directly. Since many users of social media think of the platform as a safe place where they can trust people from various respected circles and communities, they are often taken advantage of.
Over 100,000 people become victims of various online scams annually meaning that your chances to meet someone who will trick you into giving away money or personal information are relatively high. The only thing that will help you avoid such trouble is knowing how you can get tricked!
We decided to put together a short list of the most frequent scams on the internet.
Phishing is rampant!
Phishing is the most common way of acquiring someone’s personal information. The method involves tricking users into giving up their credentials and data willingly. While there could be many ways that a scammer leads their victims to a fake website or an app, three are used more often.
- E-mail phishing is the most prolific method. Scammers send you a letter from an address that looks credible (firstname.lastname@example.org is a good example). The letter contains a link to a website with a name similar to any popular, trustworthy website, where users are encouraged to authorize using their credentials.
- A piece of malware on a USB stick is another popular way to target specific individuals if a scammer knows them personally. The USB may contain a variety of useful data that a scammer will share with you for free, but a hidden program will steal data from your PC.
- You may receive a link to a seemingly trustworthy website that you are using regularly via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and any other social media platform. Using these links from unverified sources is never a good idea.
Phishing is just a form of social engineering that has been proliferating on the internet since its very conception. The diversity of techniques is what makes it a popular method among criminals.
This scam became quite dangerous due to the rising popularity of various crypto assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Tales about overnight billionaires create a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out which are exploited by scammers who will try to get to your wallet using a promise of riches.
Below is how it usually happens:
- A scammer uses a fake celebrity page boosted by bots to contact a potential victim.
- They promise to give them free crypto in a special raffle or giveaway.
- To use the promotion or to receive a gift, users must pay a small fee to verify their wallets.
- When scammers collect the fee, they either ghost you or continue milking for more small payments.
These giveaways work because scammers use fake pages that may appear legitimate and promise something that many users do not know much about. Cryptocurrencies are still a foreign concept to many users without any tech expertise and prior exposure to the crypto market.
How to avoid such scams?
You may be also asked to register on a fake crypto exchange or fall in love with a stranger on a dating website. There are many ways to get to your wallet without ever meeting you face to face. Falling victim to such scams is not something outrageously rare, so be prepared to fight back and recover the money you lost.
Canceling recent card payments and closing down compromised bank accounts are good options, but you can also go to specialized agencies that focus on tracking down scammers and forcing them to pay back what they stole. This approach does not work 100% of the time, but it does work.
The two methods discussed above are some of the most frequently used by scammers from all across the globe. However, some more dangerous criminals want to steal your money. Be careful and never trust unverified individuals.