We truly want to believe that the Internet is a safe place where you can’t fall for all types of popular online scams, but it’s always good reminder to do a “reality check”. We, humans, can become an easy target for malicious actors who want to steal our most valuable personal data. Criminal minds can reach these days further than before, into our private lives, our homes and work offices
1. Phishing Email Scams
Phishing scams are based on communication made via email or on social networks. In many cases, cybercriminals will send users messages/emails by trying to trick them into providing them valuable and sensitive data (login credentials – from a bank account, social network, work account, cloud storage) that can prove to be valuable for them.
This way, they’ll use social engineering techniques by convincing you to click on a specific (and) malicious link and access a website that looks legit, but it’s actually controlled by them. You will be redirected to a fake login access page that resembles the real website. If you’re not paying attention, you might end up giving your login credentials and other personal information.
2. The Nigerian Scam
Probably one of the oldest and most popular Internet scams used mostly by a member of a Nigerian family with wealth to trick different people. It is also known as “Nigerian 419”, and named after the section of Nigeria’s Criminal Code which banned the practice.
A typical Nigerian scam involves an emotional email, letter, text message or social networking message coming from a scammer (which can be an official government member, a businessman or a member of a very wealthy family member – usually a woman) who asks you to give help in retrieving a large sum of money from a bank, paying initially small fees for papers and legal matters. In exchange for your help, they promise you a very large sum of money.
They will be persistent and ask you to pay more and more money for additional services, such as transactions or transfer costs. You’ll even receive papers that are supposed to make you believe that it’s all for real. In the end, you are left broke and without any of the promised money.
3. Greeting Card Scams
Whether it’s Christmas or Easter, we all get all kind of holiday greeting cards in our email inbox that seems to be coming from a friend or someone we care.
Greeting card scams are another old Internet scams used by malicious actors to inject malware and harvest users’ most valuable data.
If you open such an email and click on the card, you usually end up with malicious software that is being downloaded and installed on your operating system. The malware may be an annoying program that will launch pop-ups with ads, unexpected windows all over the screen.
If this happens, your computer will start sending private data and financial information to a fraudulent server controlled by IT criminals.
4. Lottery Scam
This is another classic Internet scam which doesn’t seem to get old. A lottery scam comes as an email message informing you that you won a huge amount of money and, in order to claim your prize or winnings, you need to pay some small fees.
Lucky you, right?! It doesn’t even matter that you don’t recall ever purchasing lottery tickets.
5. Hitman Scam
One of the most frequent Internet scams you can meet online is the “hitman” extortion attempt. Cybercriminals will send you an email threatening to extort money from you. This type of online scam may come in various forms, such as the one threatening that they will kidnap a family member unless a ransom is paid in a time frame provided by the scammers.
To create the appearance of a real danger, the message is filled with details from the victim’s life, collected from an online account, a personal blog or from a social network account.
That’s why it’s not safe to provide any sensitive or personal information about you on social media channels.
6. Online Dating (Romance) Scam
As the Internet plays an important role in our social lives, with apps like Facebook or Instagram we access every day, it’s inevitable to use apps to look for love as well.
Online dating apps are very popular these days and they are a great way to meet your future life partners.
A romance scam usually takes place on social dating networks, like Facebook, or by sending a simple email to the potential target, and affect thousands of victims from all over the world.
The male scammers are often located in West Africa, while the female scammers are mostly from the eastern parts of Europe.
Cybercriminals have abused this scamming method for years by using the online dating services. They improved their approach just by testing the potential victims’ reactions.
7. Fake Antivirus Software
We all saw at least once this message on our screens: “You have been infected! Download antivirus X right now to protect your computer!”
Many of these pop-ups were very well created to look like legitimate messages that you might get from Windows or any other security product.
If you are lucky, there is nothing more than an innocent hoax that will bother you by displaying unwanted pop-ups on your screen while you browse online. In this case, to get rid of the annoying pop-ups, scan your system using a good antivirus product.
If you are not so lucky, your system can end up getting infected with malware, such as a Trojan or a key logger. This kind of message could also come from one of the most dangerous ransomware threats around, such as CryptoLocker, which is capable of blocking and encrypting your operating system and requesting you a sum of money in exchange for the decryption key.
8. Facebook Impersonation Scam (Hijacker Profile Scam)
Facebook. Everyone is talking about it these days, and the scandal about Cambridge Analytica, firm harvesting personal data taken from millions of this social media channel without users’ consent.
It’s still the most popular social media network where everyone is active and uses it on a daily basis to keep in touch with friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, it has become also the perfect place for online scammers to find their victims.
Since it is so important for your privacy and online security, you should be very careful in protecting your personal online accounts just the way you protect your banking or email account.
9. Make Money Fast Scams (Economic Scams)
Cybercriminals will lure you into believing you can make money easy and fast on the internet. They’ll promise you non-existent jobs, including plans and methods of getting rich quickly.
It is a quite simple and effective approach, because it addresses a basic need for money, especially when someone is in a difficult financial situation.
This scamming method is similar to the romance scam mentioned above, where the cyber attackers address the emotional side of victims. The fraudulent posting of non-existent jobs for a variety of positions is part of the online criminals’ arsenal.
Using various job types, such as work-at-home scams, the victim is lured into giving away personal information and financial data with the promise of a well-paid job that will bring lots of money in a very short period of time.
10. Bitcoin Scam
If you (want to) invest in Bitcoin technology, we advise you to be aware of online scams. Digital wallets can be open to hacking and scammers take advantage of this new technology to steal sensitive data.
11. Fake News Scam
The spread of fake news on the Internet is a danger to all of us because it has an impact on the way we filter all the information we found and read on social media. It’s a serious problem that should concern our society, mostly for the misleading resources and content found online, making it impossible for people to distinguish between what’s real and what is not.
We recommend accessing/reading only reliable sources of information coming from friends or people you know read regular feeds from trusted sources: bloggers, industry experts, in order to avoid the fake news.