Did you know online scams have grown at an alarming rate recently? Here are some of the latest online scams tricking people.
The Internet has always been a hotspot for innovative ways to scam people. It wasn’t long ago when Nigerian lottery emails scammed thousands of people across the globe. Phishing and identity theft has also been there for a while on the Internet. If you find these scams advanced, wait till you hear about the online scams prevalent in recent times.
Why have online scams grown recently?
The pandemic behaved like a catalyst in pushing a colossal population into the online realm. While people from all age backgrounds have increased their inclination towards online services, there is a large section of first-time users of the Internet in its present form.
What else could be a better opportunity for online scams to boom! The already fast-evolving scams have turned recalcitrant during recent times. It won’t be unseemly to say that discrete and seemingly small online scams have grown into a full-blown industry with the onset of the pandemic.
How do online scams trick people?
When someone tries to scam you in person, it is an equal game where you have similar control over the situation as the scammer. If someone tricks you for your money, you still have the option to confront the person and take back your money. An online scammer can very easily hide into the dark trails of the Internet as soon as you give them your money.
It is equally difficult for scammers to trick money from people as there is an immense amount of information. You can look for information about the product/ service that the fraudster tries to offer you and bust the scam.
That’s why fraudsters try to win your trust by making unbelievable claims. They also create a sense of urgency in your mind, which leads to bad decision-making by the victim. The best way to avoid a scam is to never act in haste in situations when you are paying or subscribing to something online.
Common Online Scams
Online scams happen in several ways, but smartphone app-based scams have skyrocketed. Newbie internet users tend to trust an application they find on Google Play Store/ App Store, which has led to a plethora of scamster apps on these platforms. Fishy gambling, dating, shopping, and money lending apps are some of the standard methods to trick tech novice users. Other than these, social engineering-based scams which involve a direct conversation with the scammer are also common.
Let’s look at some of the common online scams in detail:
Personal Loan apps
The pandemic has seriously affected the financial status of millions of people across the globe. A personal loan has become a highly reasonable option for people with halted income or immediate needs. Financing a loan through a bank is a cumbersome process as it requires tons of paperwork, declaring collateral, presenting a nominee, and a long wait time.
On the other hand, personal loan apps claim to grant loans under 15 minutes of submitting the documents on their platforms. What do you think a person with financial hardships would choose? These applications attract millions of users by running advertisements across the Internet. While the money lending process is exceptionally smooth in such applications, they use all the dirty tricks in the book to scam people and make them pay unacceptable interest rates.
The loan documentation is such that reading it and understanding each of the terms is almost impossible for a person with limited financial knowledge. Moreover, they ask for all the permissions from your device, including irrelevant ones for a money lending application.
There have been reports where these applications have harassed people by clicking pictures through the smartphone camera (using the camera permission) and sharing it with the victim’s contacts (using the contact permission). Moreover, the penalty grows exponentially over the already high-interest rates once you fail the repayment deadline.
Beware of these scam personal loan applications and make sure only to choose government-certified apps with good reviews.
The E-commerce industry is a 4.28 trillion-dollar industry that is growing at a rapid rate. While e-commerce giants have made mammoth efforts to bring more people under the e-commerce umbrella, numerous scam shopping sites use the loopholes of good SEO, advertisements, and unbelievable prices to trick people.
Creating a scam e-commerce website with a decent number of visitors is not too hard today. Scammers get their websites to rank on Google using good SEO techniques and search engine advertisements. The links to these websites will seem legit to a regular user unless the URL is monitored closely.
Moreover, their products are usually way cheaper than other popular brands, making them even more appealing to buyers. The website will ask you for your basic information such as phone number, address, email address, and name, just like any other website.
Even if you don’t make the payment, you have already given your personal information to people with malicious intent. The website will redirect you to the payments page in the next step. And you guessed it right! Your ordered product will never reach your address.
The contact numbers or email addresses won’t reply, and you would find no way of getting your money back. These scam websites usually trick people for small sums of money. This way, even the victim doesn’t put much effort into getting their money back.
Most of us have searched queries like “Cheap hotels” or “Cheap Flights” on search engines. While the top search results usually contain genuine websites, there are several fishy or paid search results. These scam websites have a clear plan; to cancel your travel bookings and never return your money.
These scam platforms usually cite reasons like last moment fare increases or technical issues at their end for booking cancellation. They then give you the option to pay more money for the same booking or cancel the booking and start the refund process.
As soon as you select the cancellation option like any other person who chose the website for cheap bookings would do, you get trapped in a vicious cycle of asking for your refunds and not getting your money back. Most people don’t make much effort to get their money back, which is the primary revenue source for scam travel sites.
Gambling/ Betting Scams
Gambling is a severe addiction, and many people have lost their life savings through gambling. While there are some winners and many losers in a conventional gambling game, there is only one winner in an online gambling space; the creator of the gambling platform. These applications work on a straightforward principle; make a person win big initially and when they get addicted, loot them until they have nothing more to lose.
You might think about how a gambling platform can decide a game’s fate; a game can go any way, and a player’s chances of winning or losing are random. That’s where the algorithm behind these gambling platforms comes into play. The specially designed algorithm decides the fate of all the games played on the platform and uses the most optimum way to scam people.
The general trend that happens to most users is that they win big initially. The player thinks they could have won even bigger if they had invested more money. That’s when the app algorithm kicks in and makes the player lose money. The player then plays to recover their losses which turns into more losses, and the cycle continues. It is safe to say that all online gambling platforms use algorithms that only benefit the creators, and using them puts severe threats to your money.
The list of scams related to dating apps is long enough to foreshadow all other scams. There are social engineering scams on legit dating apps, and then there are dating apps that are themselves a scam. Both of these frauds trick thousands of victims into paying money to fraudsters.
It is no secret that even most dating apps have humongous amounts of fake profiles, most of which honeytrap people into paying them money. Fraudsters try every trick in the book to gain your trust and make you believe that the other person is into you.
The other scams are where the dating application is itself a scam. Such apps hire people to talk to users and scam them to subscribe to their premium plans. Other scam sites can send you bot texts and ask you to pay for further conversations. Beware of all such platforms, and make sure never to pay a person you have never online before knowing them well.
Work from Home Job Scams
Doesn’t it sound like a perfect scenario to get a WFH-based job that pays well and requires little skills? That’s what many work-from-home scams offer to people in search of a financial backup. The number of people searching for a job has grown exponentially due to the pandemic, which has led to numerous WFH scams.
The most common WFH scam is the data entry job scam. Some of these scams would ask you to pay some token money to get the job. Other worse scams include assigning you a project and then discarding your work citing mistakes. The fraudster then claims to face financial losses due to your work errors and asks you to pay them money or else they would file a complaint. Many victims have fallen prey to such tactics and lost significant amounts.
Here are some genuine websites where you can find remote work.
Online MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) Scams
An MLM scam works by blinding people to promise a successful future. MLM companies have to sell different products, but they don’t go through the conventional selling methods. A traditional way of selling includes introducing the product to the market and advertising it.
On the other hand, MLM companies trick people into buying the products by making them pseudo employees of the company. You are asked to bring more people to the company and elongate the chain, quickly making you rich.
Recently, this scam has shifted online where scammers use terms like “digital marketing” and “affiliate marketing” to sound legit to victims. The less techno-savvy audience falls prey to such fake programs with the same old MLM schemes rebranded differently. These fraudulent schemes then charge money in the form of a sign-up amount and use victims to bring in more victims.
Phishing scams trick victims into sending money or sharing financial credentials with fraudsters. These scams have grown manifolds after online payments have made it much easier to transfer money. The scammers mask themselves as bank officials or government employees who need to verify your social security number or credit card details.
Some other common phishing scams happen on second-hand marketplaces like OLX and eBay. The fraudsters trick you into sending them money by making you believe that you are actually receiving the money. Beware of phishing scams, and do not tell your secret credentials to anyone online.
How to prevent an online scam?
After knowing about all the latest ways scammers use to trick people, it is necessary to look at the ways to prevent online scams. Here are some essential points you should take care of while surfing the Internet:
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links even if a known person sends them to you.
- Protect your email and social media accounts with two-factor authentication.
- Never share your financial credentials, passwords, OTPs, and any other sensitive information with anyone.
- Take your time while making payments online, and make sure to verify the authenticity of the product/ brand beforehand. A simple Google search will show the reviews of any famous product.
- Make sure to use identity theft prevention software for the extra layer of security.
- Don’t download unknown apps from the Play Store/ App Store.
- Don’t grant unnecessary system permissions to apps. For instance, a camera application should not have your contact permission.
- Don’t fall prey to unbelievable deals online. Remember, not all that glitters is gold.
- User browser security extension to secure the browsing experience.
How to report an online scam?
If you ever fall into an online scam, you should immediately report it to the concerned authorities. Almost every nation has an online fraud prevention portal where you can easily report such cases. The authorities then suggest the best ways to recover from your losses and ways to avoid cybercrimes in the future. Here are some popular fraud prevention authorities worldwide:
- Federal Trade Commission, USA
- Internet Crime Complaint Center, USA
- Action Fraud, UK
- Germany Police
- Cyber Crime Department, India
Summing Up 👮♂️
Fraudsters are constantly looking up ways to scam people online. It is best to continually update your information about the latest online scam methods and stay alert while surfing the Internet. Remember to take your time while paying for a product or service and keep looking for the red flags.
Now you may check how much your data is worth on the dark web.