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Since the Internet began, criminals have been using it to con people out of money and sensitive information. Phishi...
Since the Internet began, criminals have been using it to con people out of money and sensitive information. Phishing for passwords, plucking on heartstrings with false stories, and trying to convince someone that it is possible to get something for nothing are as much part of the World Wide Web as cute cats videos. We’ve compiled a short list of some of the most audacious (and effective) Internet scams to date. I hope you haven’t fallen for any of them.
eBay scam: This is when a scammer “buys” an item on eBay and somehow convinces the seller to ship it before being paid (often with the help of a faked PayPal payment confirmation email). Needless to say, the seller never gets paid. On the flipside, one vendor sold a photo of an Xbox to a buyer who “foolishly” believed he was buying an actual Xbox.
Anti-virus pop-up scam: You’re minding your own business surfing the web and suddenly a message appears on your screen saying your computer has been infected by a virus. You then download the so-called anti-virus software, which is actually “ransomeware,” disabling your computer until you pay the scammers to disinfect it. According to the US Federal Trade Commission, consumers have paid millions for fake antivirus software.
Lottery scam: Ever get an email stating that you’ve won a lottery you never actually bought a ticket for? If these were real, they’d be the best lotteries in the world. Of course they aren’t real, but some people still fall for it, contacting the scammer via phone or email and providing them with payment or access to their bank account. Yet, no lotteries notify winners with an email, and the UK National Lottery’s contact number is not in South Africa.
Fake review scam: This is a scam we’ve probably all fallen for in one way or another. Paid writers post positive reviews of a product or service (or negative reviews against the competition) on sites like Amazon, Google, or Yelp. It may not be bilking us out of millions in a direct sense, but it does provide false information that can influence how we spend our money.
The heir in trouble scam: Everyone’s favourite Internet scam — the letter from someone in dire straits (often from Nigeria) who is on the verge of inheriting a vast sum of money, but just needs a bit of cash to free it up. In return for your monetary help you’ll be reimbursed to the tune of a heck of a whole lot more than you’re lending. What’s not to like? People apparently fall for this one, even years after this classic scam has become common knowledge.
Celebrity death scam: Every now and then a false report of some celebrity dying makes the rounds on social media and even into the mainstream media in the form of television news reports and online news articles. It’s a tale as old as time, and we still fall for it because celebrities are actually dying all the time. People also love to express their bottomless grief about some actor they saw in a few TV shows or movies by writing “completely heartbroken” or “shocked beyond belief” below the Facebook fake obituary.
Nigerian jobs scam: A pretty successful scammer was recently arrested in Nigeria for conning people with fake government job announcements on Facebook (maybe they should start calling it “Fakebook”) that incurred small application fees. The scam worked enough times to net the scammer a cool $6 million US.
The lonely hearts club scam: According to recent reports, Malaysia is becoming a centre for romance-based scammers who fleece poor lonely souls out of their hard-earned cash. “Sweetheart” scams are among the most insidious and cruel because the damage they do goes far deeper than the dollars they take. Just follow the trail of broken hearts.
Know of any other outrageous Internet scams? Feel free to share them in the comments section!