Scam artists are always trying to use more innovative, scalable ways to exploit their victims. The Internet is one of the best mediums for them to commit their crimes, because they can reach hundreds of millions of people without divulging their identities. You need to learn to recognize these scams to avoid being a victim of one of them.
Prevalence of Internet Fraud
Internet fraud has become a serious problem over the last few years. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance found that the cost of Internet fraud increased 900% to over $180 million between 2001 and 2005. That figure has dropped slightly since, but it is still a serious problem.
The Department of Justice said that the cost of online fraud has dropped because people are more wary of Internet scams. However, somebody still fall victim to an online scam every two seconds. You need to understand the warning signs to protect yourself.
Tips to Identify Online Scammers
Online scammers are generally sociopaths. They have no empathy for anyone else and are willing to do everything necessary to part their victims from their money. Fortunately, it is possible to identify them if you know what to look for. Here are some warning signs to be aware of.
Online criminals try to make their crimes as efficient as possible. They tend to write very basic and impersonal emails. People that have studied cyber scams very carefully have found that there are two reasons that they do this:
- They need to reach as many people as possible.
- They want to make sure that the most gullible people reply to their emails to increase their chances of scamming them.
You should be wary about replying to any very poorly written email. The Nigerian Letter scams use this approach the most.
Emails Originate from Other Jurisdictions
Scam artists try to exploit their victims in other parts of the world, because it is difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace them that way. You should find out where communication originates from. You can check the IP address of the email to get an idea. You should know something is off if the email is claiming that you won a lottery in the United States, but the email was sent from a server in Slovakia or Nigeria.
Lack of Verifiable Information
Scammers rarely try to associate themselves with legitimate businesses. They generally want to try to stay as anonymous as possible. This means that they tend to leave as little information about themselves as possible.
A real business that was trying to solicit money for a service would leave a working phone number and a physical address. If you don’t see any verifiable information, then you should report the communication as a scam.
Unusual Request for Money or Information
Almost every scam artist is trying to con the victim out of their money. Somewhere in their communications, they are probably going to ask you for money or information that will help them get money later.
Always remain skeptical when somebody wants money or information from you. Never provide either unless you are sure that the recipient is trustworthy and know why they need it.