Sunday, 10th March 2013
AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM OF AN ONLINE SCAM – For the vast majority of people using the internet we are fully aware about the number of scams infiltrating the web and our email in-boxes. A great deal of these scams originates from Nigeria and despite foreign government intervention the Nigerian authorities appear to have little interest in stopping this crime.
Almost all online scams involve a number of elements and are often targeted at the uninitiated, those with little knowledge of the internet and how it works, the ‘newbie’ as they are often referred to, or those who are greedy and feel that an easy and fast buck can be made.
As the old saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and therefore for those who think that they are about to make a lot of money, for little or no effort, then rarely do these people garner sympathy once the situation arises in the public arena.
It wasn’t that long ago that I read of a story whereby a person agreed to effectively launder cash from a deceased despot leaders family, to the tune of $50 million where he was offered 30% in return for using his bank account to transfer the so-called funds to a safer haven.
It was of course a scam and this involved him paying vast amounts of cash in bogus transfer fees via Western Union. Once he realized his error and that he had been scam he notified the police. I was surprised to learn, that while he lost over $500,000 the Federal Authorities did not press charges for the attempt of money laundering.
The other day I had a phone call from a friend. It was just two years ago that he decided, at the young age of 71 that he should learn how to use a computer and learn more about using the internet. I helped set him up with a system and got him started. Once set I gave him a very clear warning to ignore any emails from people he did not know and in particular where the emails offer him the opportunity to make easy money.
All went smoothly for a couple of years and I did get periodical emails advising me that he had received an email offering various ‘get rich quick schemes’ and even the usual ‘Nigerian 419’ scams. My advice was as always, deleted it and under no circumstances reply.
Just two days ago he receive an email asking for his help in the transfer of funds out of some African state – the usual story, some high placed government official had died leaving $30 million in assets that needed transferring quickly out of the country in order to stop the other corrupt officials from getting their greedy hands on the money. As usual my advice was to delete it as with any such emails.
Yesterday I got a phone call asking if I could pop round to help with an email problem. Contrary to my advice he decided to respond by asking the sending ‘How do I know this is not a scam.’ This was of course the worse thing he could have done and now his email account is being bombarded with all manner of scam offers and of course the senders of the original message are constantly emailing him with assurances that this is not a scam and that he could make serious money if he was to help. The matter has now been reported to his email provider and the police.
Just remember the golden rule of any offer… ‘if it sounds too good to be true, then that is likely to be true.’
Think carefully about any emails that you receive from people you do not know personally. Even those emails from friends could dangerous as it is not unusual for criminals to hack an account so that the offer looks like it came from a friend or family member. The rule of emails is to read each one carefully and if you are not sure then phone your friend or family member and ask them if they did send you an email.
When it comes to someone offering you money to transfer large sums from other countries remember that this practice is illegal under various Money Laundering Laws and will vary depending on the country in which you reside. Therefore, no matter how much money is involved (not that you will ever see any of it) it is illegal and therefore could land you in jail.
One of the biggest scams involved email ‘Links’; that is an email that contains links to financial institutions, such as your bank. Criminals have the ability, and often do, send out millions of emails to customers informing them that someone has tried to access their account. The emails look authentic and yet a bank would never engage in such a process. The scam here involves you clicking the link that takes you to a website that looks exactly like your banks website. It is here they ask you to confirm all of your bank account details including changing your password, with involved entering your existing password. Once complete the criminals, generally originating from Nigeria, now have full access to your bank account where they summarily clean it out.
There are of course multiple other email scams, from informing you that you have a computer virus to job offers. To appreciate the breadth and width of the problem, simply go to Google.com and enter ‘online scams’ as you search term. Here you will find lots of information on all manner of scams that you can easily avoid with a little due diligence and understand of our online scams work.
Please remember, never respond to any emails offering you a quick buck or a way to get rich quick because the chances are you will be breaking the law and you will lose a serious amount of money.