Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beware of Common Internet Scams and Frauds

The term Internet Scam or Internet Fraud refers to any type of fraud scheme that uses one or more online services to conduct fraudulent activities. Internet fraud can take place on computer programs such as chat rooms, e-mail, message boards, or Web sites. In this post I will discuss about some of the commonly conducted scams and frauds across the Internet.

1. Phishing Scam

This is one of the most commonly used scam to steal bank logins and other types of passwords on the Internet. Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging.

Example:You may receive an email which claims to have come from your bank/financial institution/online service provider that asks you to click a link and update your account information. When you click such a link it will take you to a fake page which exactly resembles the original ones. Here you’ll be asked to enter your personal details such as username and password. Once you enter your personal details they will be stolen away. Such an email is more than likely the type of Internet scam known as “phishing”. Phishing is said to be highly effective and has proved to have more success rate since most of the common people fail to identify the scam.
Most legitimate companies never request any kind of personal/sensitive information via email. So it is highly recommended that you DO NOT respond to such fraudulent emails. For more information on phishing visit my detailed post What is Phishing?

2. Nigerian Scams

This type of scam involves sending emails (spam) to people in bulk seeking their help to access large amount of money that is held up in a foreign bank account. This email claims that in return for the help you’ll be rewarded a percentage of the fund that involves in the transaction. Never respond to these emails since it’s none other than a scam.
In case if you respond to these emails you will be asked to deposit a small amount of money (say 1-2% of the whole fund) as an insurance or as an advance payment for the initialization of deal. However once you deposit the amount to the scammer’s account you’ll not get any further response from them and you lose your money. In fact “The large amount of money” never exists and the whole story is a trap for innocent people who are likely to become victims. The scammers use a variety of stories to explain why they need your help to access the funds. The following are some of the examples of them.
  • They may claim that political climate or legal issues preclude them from accessing funds in a foreign bank account
  • They may claim that the person is a minor and hence needs your help to access the funds
  • They may claim that your last name is the same as that of the deceased person who owned the account and suggest that you act as the Next of Kin of this person in order to gain access to the funds

3. Lottery Scams

This type of scam is similar to the one discussed above. In this type you may receive an email saying that you have won a large sum of money in online lottery scheme (ex. UK Lottery) even though you have not participated in any such schemes. The message claims that your email ID was selected randomly from a lagre pool of IDs. When you respond to such emails they initially ask for your complete name and address so that they can mail the cheque accross to you. After getting those details they may also send you an image of the cheque drawn in your name and address so as to confirm the deal. But in order to mail this cheque they demand a small amount of money as insurance/shipping charge/tax in return. However if you send the amount in hope to receive the cheque all you get is nothing. You’re just trapped in a wonderful scam scheme. Thats it.

4. Other General Scams and Frauds

The following are some of the other types of scams that you should be aware of.
In general, be aware of unsolicited emails that:
  1. Promise you money, jobs or prizes
  2. Ask you to provide sensitive personal information
  3. Ask you to follow a link to a website and log on to an account.
  4. Propose lucrative business deals
However it may seem to be a difficult task for novice Internet users to identify such online scams. Here are some of the common signs of such scam emails. By knowing them it may help you to stay away.
  • All these scam emails never address you by your name. In turn they commonly address you something like “Dear User” or “Dear Customer” etc. This is a clear indication that the email is a fraudulent one
  • When you observe the email header you may notice in the “TO:” Field that, the same email is forwarded to a large group of people or the “TO:” field appears blank. So this confirms that the email was not intended particularly for you. It was forwarded for a large group of people and you are one among them
I hope this post helps. Express your opinions through comments. Pin It


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