The Covid-19 pandemic hit hardest among the already vulnerable. It’s a global tragedy that the world’s wealthiest countries were not prepared for this deadly pandemic. But it’s also great news for online scammers. As the world became distracted by news of the pandemic in early March, the online scammers immediately stepped up their game. They started using every trick in the book to acquire as much money as possible from desperate people. Here’s a short summary of the ways scammers make money online during the pandemic:
Phishing And The Mega-Fraudsters
Phishing is a form of cybercrime that doesn’t require much technical knowledge. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. You can easily find online tutorials that will show you how to create a fake website that looks almost identical to a bank or payment processing website. Once you have one, all you need to do is trick the user into entering their personal information. The key to a successful phishing scam is to make the website look as realistic as possible. The sharper the better. So, don’t be afraid to spend money on a good looking, domain name. And don’t be fooled by a well-designed website, since a lot can go wrong without professional assistance. This is why you should invest in a good phisher rather than a free one found online.
You might be familiar with the name Dave Hickey. He’s the founder of HubSpot, a business software company that helps companies to grow. He’s also the founder of Vero, which is an incubator for startups. One of the things Dave Hickey is best known for is his uncanny ability to identify and expose online scammers. So, if you want to follow in his footsteps, be on the lookout for any suspicious activity. You can contact Dave Hickey directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. He should be able to point you in the right direction. In the meantime, you can learn a lot from observing the scammers themselves. Learn their techniques, patterns and tricks. This way, you will become better at detecting fraud when it comes your way.
Cashing Out Refunds
Let’s say you’ve been shopping online and spotted an amazing deal on an item you just had to have. You quickly click the buy button, but then get a call from the store, asking you to confirm your order. You end up having to go through a lengthy phone order verification process because the store manager double checked all the information against a centralized database. While you’re on the phone with the store manager, you realize you’ve been scammed. Fortunately, you had registered for an account with the store before making the purchase and you quickly contact the company, requesting a refund. The store manager agrees to give you your money back, even though it’s already been a week since the order was placed. To speed up the process, you send the store manager a quick and polite email, thanking them for working with you during this difficult time and assuring them that you will not be forgetting about them. Even though you’ve been scammed and you want nothing to do with the store or their products ever again, you still want to be nice to them because it’s the right thing to do. You’ll never know when this might come in handy. Sometimes it’s better to be extra careful than to be safe.
Fraudulent ads are a common occurrence on social media. Especially on Instagram. To get people to click on their advertisements, online scammers will create fake accounts and post inflammatory content about competitors or products the scammer is trying to push. Sometimes they’ll even cross-post between Instagram and Facebook to increase their exposure. Even though the content might not be real, the advertisements often are. People love free stuff, so when an opportunity presents itself, most will click the “add to bag” button in hopes of getting something for free. To make sure you don’t get tricked, be selective in which ads you click on. If you ever feel uncomfortable about clicking on an ad, don’t do it. There are many other legitimate websites you can visit instead.
As we’ve established, scammers love to trick people. But while some people like to joke about being scammed, the victims of these crimes often feel violated and tricked. So, even though you might think the scammers are laughing their way to the bank, their victims might still be crying.
Protect Your Identities
If you want to cash out refund, you have to prove who you are. So, the online scammers will often require you to verify your identity using your social security number or other identifying information. For whatever reason, they need to keep a paper trail. This paper trail often requires you to provide more information than you’d normally share. For example, if you’re using your social security number, the scammers might request your birth certificate or passport. If you want to keep your refund, you might be required to provide additional information pertaining to your purchase. This way, you can be sure that the information you’re providing is accurate.
With any luck, you’ll never be a victim of fraud. But if you are, these tips should help you fight back. So, until next time, happy hunting!