Despite all efforts made by law enforcement agencies and many anti-fraud organizations to reduce cyber crime to the barest minimum, research revealed that cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated in their illegal activities, they are developing new fraud schemes with change in technologies.
However, the greatest weapon of all internet users against cyber criminals is “knowledge” about the most common online scams and how to avoid them.
Here are some of the most common online scams and how to avoid them and reduce your vulnerability.
1. Phishing scams: This is when an online fraudster impersonates a reputable individual or organization in order to obtain money, sensitive or personal information of unsuspecting victims. In order to avoid this, make sure you investigate thoroughly before you respond to any email, text message or phone call.
2. Beneficiary scams: In beneficiary scams, a fraudster calls or sends message to an unsuspecting victim to notify him that he should help him to receive huge sums of money or parcel containing expensive goods with a promise of certain percentage of money to the unsuspecting victim. The fraudster will later demand for some money to facilitate the release of the funds or parcel. When you receive such email, text message or phone call, ignore it immediately.
3. Job offer scams: The scammers will send out emails & adverts of job vacancies with attractive salary. They will request for application from different parts of the world, they will ask for personal information of the applicants which they may eventually use to create fake profile of the unsuspecting victims. They will later ask of money for processing of the application or to facilitate the interview. There are many job vacancies on the internet but the only way to differentiate the real one from the fake is to do a thorough investigation.
4. Lottery scams: The scammer will contact an unsuspecting victim through phone call, email or text message that he won a lottery. He will ask for the personal information of the unsuspecting victim for verification purpose but his main intention is to use the personal information for fraudulent activities. He will later demand for what he refers to as “release fee” before the lottery can be claimed. Lottery organizations don’t demand for any fee before a winner can claim money so when you are asked to pay certain amount, be suspicious.
5. Loan scams: Fraudsters send out emails as if they are financial institutions or Non-governmental organizations giving out non-interest loan to help unemployed citizens. They will later demand for personal details of interested people & certain amount to be paid. Once the amount is paid, the fraudsters will be giving different excuses. To avoid falling victim, do a thorough research about any organization that contacts you for loan application. Most importantly, visit their offices to ask sensitive questions about them.
Don’t be a victim of cyber crime, be cybercrime aware, stay vigilant to reduce your vulnerability.
CEO – Onadipe Technologies,
National Coordinator – Internet Abuse Awareness & Prevention Project, Nigeria.