3 of the Worst Online Scams and What You Can Do to Avoid Them

article by Arya A. author
Scams are commonplace on the internet, so much so that many of us have become desensitized to them. However; if we let our guard down, we run the risk of falling victim to these con artists. Online scams are prolific, because all of us are connected to the internet in some way or other.

The majority of online scams take place via email, where unscrupulous individuals – typically criminal syndicates in foreign countries – perpetrate heinous crimes against students, stay-at-home moms, businesses and everyday folks.

Hurry! I’ve Been Robbed and I’m Overseas – Send Money!

The precise wording may vary from one scam to another, but the gist of it is the same: a relative, or close friend is stranded overseas and needs to make payment on an urgent medical bill, hotel bill, or requires an emergency trip. As an unsuspecting recipient of this email, a natural reaction is to offer assistance – in whatever form is needed. Typically, the scammer will intercept a person’s email address book and pose as a relative in need of assistance. All that’s required is a payment to an unspecified email address, PayPal account, or bank account in a foreign country. Any time a scam like this occurs, it’s imperative that the source of the email be verified to avoid identity theft or fraud.

Don’t Get Caught in an Advance-Fee Fraud Scam

Criminals perpetrating these types of scams will require money up front from the hapless victim, in expectation of a range of services or products. However, there are no goods or services – it’s all a big con. This scam takes on many forms, including introducing the victim to individuals who are in desperate need of financial assistance. Sometimes additional people will be brought into the mix. They will describe their hardship and need for help. The most common example of these scams are the 419 scams. They emanate in Nigeria, and they are the most prolific and notorious online scams.

Everything would be okay, were it not for the money that the scam artist is requesting of the victim. All the while, the scammer is living off the proceeds of the victim. Sensible advice is as follows: Never send money to anyone in a foreign country unless they are relatives, friends or trusted colleagues. One of the most effective ways of avoiding advance-fee fraud scams is effective antivirus software. Panda is one such antivirus program with advanced detection and removal tools. It monitors suspicious behavior and it even provides notifications about changed .dll files. As soon as an anomaly has occurred, it will shut down the program.

640x425_3 Worst Online Scams

Don’t Get Tangled in a Sexual Extortion Scam

Extortion is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and the internet has made it so much easier for hackers, criminals, and extortionists to ply their trade. Sometimes, all that’s needed for them to succeed is access to usernames/password combinations, smartphones, tablets, PCs or removable storage devices. Once the extortionist gets his or her hands on sensitive material such as naked pictures, or sexual messages between people they can use this material to their benefit. In the digital age, there is a plethora of multimedia content circulating privately and publicly. Criminals will even use mass media communication devices like Skype and FaceTime to get their victims to pose nude, and then threaten to use that video content unless money is transferred.

There are many cases of hackers sending malicious code via email to their victims, and then remotely turning on webcams while victims were walking around naked, or communicating privately on their phones. The general rule in all cases is as follows: never post explicit photographs online, and never leave that type of data available on hard drives, removable storage devices, digital cameras or phones. BullGuard antivirus software is great for detecting and removing adware and spyware. This program can automatically stop malicious code before it has had a chance to infect your PC or mobile device.