Cyberspace, a.k.a the internet, has seen its fair share of safety issues over the years, which fall into the category of what we would call cybercrime.
Under the large umbrella of cybercrime, there are several categories of ‘attackers’, that again conduct several different types of attacks, especially on easy targets like innocent, unsuspecting users.
One of these categories, that has been well-established and documented for years is the internet ‘scamming’. What really put internet scamming in the spotlight, was the notorious Nigerian letter scams and of course Indian tech support scams that began a few years ago, which have since become very popular on Youtube.
On a more serious note though, the number of complaints received online regarding internet scams continue to rise sharply and are causing billions of dollars in damage, each year.
Essentially, an internet scammer is looking to enter your computer, steal your financial data, and disappear. Worryingly, there are tens of thousands of people working on scamming unsuspecting people as we speak, and sadly scams can be deadly (sextortion scams).
Today though, people, in general, are much more aware of these scams, but they do still happen. Let’s look at the different types of internet scams.
Types of Internet Scams
Internet scams conducted by cybercriminals are numerous, but some are much more notorious than others. Internet scams would into the following types;
- Online dating scams
- Impersonation scams
- Phishing scams
- Email scams
- Shopping scams
- Nigerian letter scam
- Indian tech support scam
- Scams involving ransom via blackmail
As we mentioned earlier, the Nigerian letter and Indian tech support scams became really popular on YouTube, with an enormous amount of views. A lot of people are now aware of scams thanks to people uploading them on YouTube.
The Nigerian Letter Scam
This comprises the following; you get an email (often emotional and mysterious) from someone illegitimately claiming to be another person. In the email, you are asked to help this person with a transfer of (a large sum) of funds.
In exchange for your help, the sender promises to cut you in on some of the cash. Usually, the sender will be asking for your personal information, or financial information and will provide a form of fake paperwork in return.
Unfortunately, many unsuspecting people have fallen for these emails and have been scammed as a result, and it’s not just older folks either.
Indian Tech Support Scam
This one is probably the most-watched type of scam on the internet, if anything for its entertainment value (think John the tech support guy with a heavy Indian accent on the other end of the line asking to access your computer).
Here, fraudsters will either email you or post a malicious ad on a website claiming to offer tech support, that will help you with (‘getting rid of viruses’).
Once the victim contacts them, they will immediately explain that the computer has a serious problem, and that they can fix it for a fee (often something ridiculous like $500 or more), and that you should trust them.
They will then ask you to download software (such as TeamViewer), via which they will take control of your computer, while you pay them the fee.
There are also Facebook impersonation scams and dating scams where in both cases the scammer will create a fake/duplicate account on social media or dating apps. This is in order to gain the victim’s trust, and at some point get bits and pieces of their financial data. It always boils down to financial theft for these types of scammers, and they often work in large, coordinated groups.
How to Fight Back
So we’ve looked at what internet scammers do, in general, but what would be some ways to take revenge? Today, there is a category of tech-literate individuals who call themselves ‘scam-baiters’. Some have called these people vigilantes, or even heroes -rightfully so.
These people sometimes risk their lives to bait these scammers, wasting their time, reporting them to authorities and some even go as far as hacking into the scammers’ systems and shutting down entire operations.
Now, if that is what you want to do, there are multiple YouTube videos out there on how they did it. Although, there are much safer, and less complicated ways of getting back at these fraudsters;
- Report suspicious websites and ads to authorities
- Block any accounts you are uncertain about on your social media
- Always ‘Google’ things you are unsure about
- Apply critical security steps for your safety in the list below
What You Should do to Stay Secure Online
In order to stay safe online, and beat these scammers at their own game, as well as protect yourself from malware in general, it is pertinent to follow these steps;
- Install a trusted antivirus program on all of your connected devices
- Utilize a Virtual Private Network, or VPN on every connected device
- Apply multi-factor authentication (MFA) to your accounts
- Never answer any emails that are from unknown senders
- Educate yourself and your family members about internet scamming
- Spread the word.