List of scams 2024: 80+ latest & most common scams you should be aware of

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Scammers are constantly evolving their strategies to deceive, get your personal information and money. They often take advantage of people’s vulnerability during times of crisis or fear. It is important to stay vigilant and be aware of the latest scams. While many scams are variations of existing ones, there are also new types of scams to watch out for. The measures that have protected you in the past can still be effective, but it is crucial to stay informed and adapt to the changing tactics of scammers.

In this article, we’ll let you know the list of scams out there, including the latest scams going around so you can protect yourself and not be a victim.

Student loan forgiveness scams

When applications for student loan forgiveness became available in 2022, the FBI cautioned borrowers about potential scams aimed at applicants. These scams involve fraudulent individuals who might reach out via phone or create fake application websites with the intention of stealing sensitive information like your Social Security number or bank account details. These scammers might use urgent and fake messages to pressure you into applying for debt relief quickly, only to then charge you a significant application fee. In reality, these schemes are designed to deceive.

It’s important to note that applying for student loan forgiveness is free of charge. Anyone who requests a fee for this process is engaging in fraudulent activity. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education does not communicate with applicants via phone. To protect yourself from student loan forgiveness scams, it’s advisable to visit the Department of Education’s official website directly for accurate information on the forgiveness application process.

Phone scams

Phone scams can take various forms, all aimed at tricking you into giving away personal information or money. These scams often exploit the features of smartphones, making them more convincing. Here are some common types:

  • Robocalls: These are automated calls with pre-recorded messages. They might promise prizes or threaten consequences, urging you to take action or provide information.
  • Text Scams (Smishing): Scammers send text messages with fake offers or urgent alerts. These messages often contain links that lead to fraudulent websites or apps designed to steal your information.
  • Impersonation: Scammers pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, family member, or company representative. They might use scare tactics or sweet-talk you to gain your confidence and extract sensitive details from you.
  • Malicious Apps: Scammers create fake apps that seem legitimate but are designed to steal your data. They might also imitate existing apps to deceive you into downloading their malicious version.
  • QR Code Scams: QR codes, often used for convenient tasks like making payments, can be exploited by scammers. They might place deceptive QR codes in inconspicuous places, leading you to enter personal information or make unintended purchases.

Remember, scammers are resourceful and will adapt their methods over time. Stay cautious, avoid sharing personal information with unknown contacts, and verify the authenticity of requests before taking any action.

Also, beware of the two relatively new types of tools and tactics that scammers are using:

SIM swapping

SIM swapping is a method employed by scammers where they gain control of your phone number by transferring it to a new SIM card in a phone they possess. This process is similar to what you experience when you receive a new phone and your mobile carrier provides you with a new SIM card.

Once the scammer has control of your SIM card, they use it to access your personal information. They can then log into your online accounts, either by entering verification codes or resetting account passwords using codes or links sent to the compromised phone. To protect yourself from SIM swapping, you can consider taking the following steps:

  • Contact your mobile phone operator to enhance security measures or temporarily prevent number porting.
  • Check if your accounts offer alternative authentication methods that don’t rely on SMS, such as using multiple forms of proof to verify your identity.

One-time password (OTP) bots

Instead of SIM swapping, scammers are also using OTP bots to deceive individuals into sharing authentication codes that are sent via text, email, or generated by an authentication app or device. These bots may initiate actions like sending a robocall or a text message, often mimicking a legitimate company’s appearance. For instance, a robocall might appear to be from a bank, asking you to confirm a charge and enter a code sent to you. In reality, this bot aims to trigger your account’s system to generate a verification code. If you provide the code as instructed, the scammer gains access to your account. To avoid falling victim to OTP bots, exercise caution and:

  • Be skeptical of unexpected requests for verification codes, especially from unknown sources.
  • Verify the legitimacy of messages or calls by contacting the company directly using official contact information.

Remaining vigilant against these tactics and taking appropriate precautions can help safeguard your personal information and accounts from potential scammers.

Zelle scams

Zelle scams involve scammers using the Zelle app to steal money from people. The scam usually starts with a fake email, text message, or phone call from someone who pretends to be from your bank’s fraud department. They’ll say that someone tried to steal your money using Zelle and ask for your help to resolve the problem.

They might tell you to send the money to yourself to secure it, but in reality, the money goes to the scammer’s account instead. It’s important to be cautious and verify the authenticity of any communication before taking any action involving your money.

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency scams

In the midst of the ongoing excitement surrounding cryptocurrencies, there’s a growing concern about falling victim to fraudulent activities. With the allure of potential investment gains, some individuals worry about missing out on lucrative opportunities. These scams manifest in various ways, but they often revolve around deceptive tactics such as counterfeit rewards, fabricated competitions, deceptive giveaways, or enticing offers for early investments

Typically, scammers employ strategies like assuming the identities of well-known figures or reputable cryptocurrency platforms. This ruse aims to entice unsuspecting individuals into parting with their money, divulging sensitive login credentials, or participating in what seems to be a promising venture. Additionally, these scams extend to attempts where cybercriminals impersonate celebrities or popular cryptocurrency websites, coaxing victims into transferring funds, sharing valuable account information, or allocating funds toward a supposed project.

Furthermore, even cryptocurrency exchange accounts aren’t immune to these malicious activities. Some scammers have resorted to utilizing One-Time Password (OTP) bots to gain unauthorized access. Falling prey to such schemes can result in the loss of your digital assets, leaving you powerless to retrieve them if the scammer successfully depletes your account. It is crucial to remain vigilant and exercise caution in the realm of cryptocurrencies to steer clear of these scams and protect your investments.

Cryptocurrency Scams: Types and Examples

  • Fake Coin Exchanges: Because many cryptocurrency businesses are new, it’s hard to tell which are genuine. Criminals exploit this by running fake exchanges, taking people’s money through deceptive practices. For instance, Internet Coin Exchange listed prices and “Buy” buttons but scammed users. Similar cases include Igot and Bitlio, which didn’t pay customers properly.
  • Hacked Coin Exchanges: Cybercriminals hack exchanges, causing both the exchange and its customers to suffer losses. The infamous case of Mt Gox is one example, where people are still waiting to recover funds after four years. Coincheck also lost $500 million due to a hack.
  • Pump and Dump Schemes: In both stocks and cryptocurrencies, “pump and dump” occurs. Scammers promote a lesser-known cryptocurrency, inflating its value by attracting investors. The initial investors then sell at a high price, leaving later investors with worthless coins.
  • Fraudulent Cloud Mining Companies: Cloud mining companies promise easy cryptocurrency mining without setup. However, many turn out to be scams. Mining Max collected $250 million but pocketed most of it. GAW Miners’ CEO pleaded guilty to $9 million fraud by overselling hashing power.
  • Mining Malware: Criminals create malware to hijack users’ computers for mining. This cryptojacking spreads through trojan viruses, forming botnets of infected devices to mine cryptocurrencies. Notable examples are “Digmine” and WannaMine.
  • ICO Exit Scams: Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) promise returns on invested fiat currency. Creators hype coins, sell them, then disappear. Plexcoin and Benebit are examples where millions were raised, then stolen.
  • ICO Impersonators: Scammers impersonate genuine ICOs, tricking investors into buying tokens before the sale starts. Criminals hijacked Seele ICO’s Telegram channel and ran a phishing scam for the Bee Token ICO, stealing large amounts.
  • Cryptocurrency Investment Schemes: The volatile market lures victims into pyramid and Ponzi schemes. Optioment promised 4% weekly returns and vanished with over 12,000 bitcoins. BitConnect and OneCoin are similar scams.
  • Wallet Fork Scams: During cryptocurrency forks, scammers offer wallets for new coins, tricking users into divulging private keys. Bitcoin Gold’s fork led to mybtgwallet.com scam, resulting in $3 million losses.
  • Wallet Impersonators: Criminals create fake wallets, misleading users into depositing coins that the scammers keep. Coinhoarder stole $50 million by impersonating reputable wallets like Blockchain.info.
  • Coin-Mixing Service Phishing Scams: Coin-mixing services enhance anonymity, but scammers used fake tutorials and websites to steal coins. Bit Blender and Helix were targeted by phishing schemes on the dark web.
  • Coin-Mixing Service Ponzi Schemes: Bitpetite promised 4% daily returns and ran a mixing operation, stealing money before disappearing in 2017.

These scams highlight the need for caution and due diligence when dealing with cryptocurrencies.

Romance scams

Romance scams involve tricking people through online relationships to steal money from them. Though not a new tactic, these scams are becoming more popular. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that victims lost $547 million to romance scams, which is an 80% increase from 2020 and six times more than in 2017.

Scammers usually pretend to be someone they’re not by using fake identities or profiles on dating and social media apps. Detecting these fakes isn’t easy, but scammers might use generic photos and make excuses for not meeting in person.

Once they gain your trust, scammers might ask you to send them money or buy things for them. Some scammers even pose as investors and give fake investment advice, leading you to invest in a fraudulent scheme. Alternatively, they might “accidentally” send you money and ask you to forward it elsewhere. If their payment turns out to be fake, your bank will take back the money from your account.

Romance scams don’t target specific people and can happen to anyone. Some scammers aim for friendships rather than romantic relationships.

Online purchase scams

Online purchase scams were identified as the most prevalent and risky type of scam in 2022, as reported by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in their 2022 Online Scams Report. These scams involve a straightforward scheme where individuals make an online purchase for a product or service, but ultimately do not receive what they paid for. One common scenario that the BBB highlighted involved people becoming victims when attempting to buy a puppy through online transactions.

Scammers commonly operate by either selling items on online marketplaces or social media platforms. Some scammers even establish fraudulent online stores to deceive consumers. It’s important for consumers to be vigilant for warning signs like unusually low prices that seem too good to be true, insufficient product details, or high-pressure sales tactics. A technique scammers often employ is triangulation fraud, wherein they use your money to buy the item from a third party using a stolen credit card. You receive the item, unaware that they’ve used someone else’s stolen credit card to obtain it, while they pocket your payment.

Using a credit card for payment can help mitigate potential losses. In the event that you do not receive the product or service you paid for, you have the option to initiate a chargeback through your credit card company, allowing you to reclaim your funds.

Employment scams

Employment scams are deceptive schemes that aim to exploit individuals who are currently unemployed. These scams employ various enticing tactics that are difficult to detect. Some scammers adopt a slow and deliberate approach, conducting seemingly genuine job interviews and presenting a legitimate-seeming business operation. During this process, they gather personal information from the employment forms you fill out or instruct you to invest in equipment or training.

In contrast, other scams adopt a more direct approach by offering the allure of guaranteed or effortless income, but with a catch—you need to purchase their program first. Occasionally, scammers pose as fake employers and send out substantial paychecks. They then ask you to return the “extra” money, manipulating a well-known overpayment scam tactic.

Additionally, you might come across job opportunities that involve tasks like receiving money and then transferring funds to another account, or receiving packages and reshipping them elsewhere. These roles, known as “money mule” and “reshipping mule” jobs, are frequently linked to illegal operations. Engaging in such activities can result in personal liability, as you may unknowingly become involved in criminal activities without realizing it.

Email-based scams

Email-based scams, a form of online fraud, involve deceiving individuals through deceptive emails. Although scammers can create fraudulent schemes using various stories, certain recurring cons have stood the test of time, including:

  • Advanced Fee Fraud: This scam tricks victims into paying an upfront fee with the promise of receiving a larger reward later. The promised reward is usually fictional, and victims end up losing the initial payment.
  • Overpayment Fraud: Scammers overpay victims for goods or services and then ask for a refund of the excess amount. The initial payment is usually fake, and victims are left with a loss when the scammer’s payment bounces.
  • Work from Home Scams: These cons offer fake job opportunities that allow individuals to work from home. Victims may be required to pay for training materials or other expenses upfront, only to realize that the promised job doesn’t exist.

These general scam tactics often remain consistent, but the specific details of each scam can evolve over time. Resources are available to help people stay informed about the ever-changing scams and to learn how to protect themselves against such schemes.

Email is a popular medium for these scams due to its low cost and simplicity. Despite the potential for refinement, many scam emails are still poorly written and easy to identify. However, some scams are more sophisticated, leading individuals to fall victim and lose substantial amounts of money each year.

Advanced-fee fraud

Advanced-fee fraud, also known as an advance-fee scam, is a type of deceptive scheme that comes in various forms. These scams could assert that you’re entitled to inherit estate funds, have triumphed in a lottery, or possess a forgotten bank account.

For instance, imagine a scenario where you’re contacted by a scammer who asks for a relatively small payment, say $82, in exchange for a promised large sum of $7.5 million. Regardless of the specific story, the underlying pattern remains the same: these scams involve sending money upfront as a prerequisite to receiving the promised benefits.

Nigerian scam (Nigerian 419 scam)

The Nigerian scam, also known as the Nigerian 419 scam, is a type of advanced-fee scam that has gained significant notoriety due to its widespread occurrence. In this scheme, individuals receive emails that offer substantial rewards in exchange for assisting supposed “government officials” in transferring funds to a US-based financial institution. However, before this transfer can take place, the recipients are required to pay upfront fees.

Originating in Nigeria, the scam is so closely associated with the country that it’s often referred to as the Nigerian 419 scam. This name stems from the violation of Nigeria’s penal code 419, which addresses fraud-related activities. The scam takes advantage of people’s trust and greed, enticing them with the promise of substantial financial gain while ultimately seeking to extract money from them through fraudulent means.

Charity fraud

Charity fraud, also known as charity scams, is a type of deceit where scammers manipulate people’s emotions to convince them to give money to fake charities or organizations.

These scams often exploit heartwarming or urgent causes, such as endangered puppies or disaster relief. Scammers use emails that seem convincing and urgent, sometimes including links to seemingly authentic websites. Unfortunately, victims not only lose their donations but also risk sharing their debit or credit card information, falling prey to thieves.

Work-at-home job scams

Work-at-home job scams are schemes where individuals are tricked into believing they’ve found a legitimate remote job that allows them to work from the comfort of their own home. Many people aspire to work from home due to its appealing advantages. Unfortunately, scam artists take advantage of this desire by presenting enticing job offers that seem genuine and feasible.

However, the reality is quite different. These scams involve convincing the victim to send money upfront, usually through wire transfers or money orders. The pretext for this upfront payment is often to cover expenses such as equipment or educational materials necessary for the supposed job. Once the money is sent, the promised equipment or materials never arrive, and worse still, there is no actual job waiting for the victim.

In essence, work-at-home job scams exploit people’s aspirations for remote work, enticing them with seemingly attractive opportunities, only to deceive and defraud them by making them pay upfront for a nonexistent job.

Canceled account

“Canceled account” scams involve scammers who put effort into crafting emails that seem legitimate, mimicking well-known service providers. They inform the recipient that their account is on the brink of suspension and insist on receiving certain details to prevent this.

These emails often contain a link to a deceptive website, urging the recipient to share their login information and financial particulars under the pretext of maintaining uninterrupted service.

An example is a scam that targeted Netflix users, where individuals received such fraudulent emails, falling victim to the ploy.

CEO fraud

CEO fraud is a targeted scam aimed at businesses. In this scheme, the scammer pinpoints a person within a company who controls the company’s funds. They pretend to be a high-ranking individual like the CEO and ask for money to be moved to a specific account.

This kind of scam becomes easier due to the wealth of information accessible on platforms like LinkedIn. This helps fraudsters identify suitable targets and create plausible narratives, also known as “whaling.”

Pulling off CEO fraud demands preparation. The scammer must convincingly impersonate the executive they claim to be. Subsequently, they contact an employee in the company authorized to handle finances, instructing them to transfer money to the scammer’s account.

Like other phishing schemes, CEO phishing succeeds when urgency or emotional tactics are applied. Consequently, scammers often focus on new finance department members who might not be well-versed in all the security measures to thwart such scams.

Greeting cards

Greeting cards scam can refer to a type of scam where attackers aim to infect your computer with harmful software. This scam is quite straightforward: you receive an email that appears to be a friendly greeting card (also known as an e-card) from someone you know, like a friend or family member.

This email contains a link that urges you to click on it. If you fall for the trick and click the link, malicious software (malware) is then automatically downloaded and installed onto your computer without your knowledge. This malware can cause damage to your computer, steal sensitive information, or perform other harmful actions. It’s a deceitful way that cybercriminals use to exploit your trust and infect your system.

Affinity fraud

Affinity fraud is a type of scam where a person exploits a shared interest or belief, like religion, to deceive and manipulate individuals. This frequently occurs in person, particularly within religious groups, but can also take place through email.

Here’s an example to illustrate an affinity scam:

In the email mentioned above, the sender is attempting to use the recipient’s faith as a way to gain their trust and convince them that the email is authentic.

Guaranteed bank loan or credit card

In this type of scam, you’re informed that you’re already approved for a bank loan or credit card. However, before you can access these benefits, you’re asked to pay processing fees.

These fees might seem insignificant, but the scammers’ main goal could be to get your bank account information rather than the actual fee amount. This could put your financial security at risk.

Service provider

A service provider scam typically focuses on businesses. In this type of scam, an email is sent to the target business, containing an invoice that seems legitimate for services. The scammers create a feeling of urgency, trying to make the recipient believe that immediate payment is necessary.

They suggest that failing to pay promptly could result in the case being handed over to a collections agency. This tactic puts pressure on the recipient to pay quickly without questioning the authenticity of the invoice, even though the services mentioned are often fake.

Scam compensation scam

“Scam compensation scam” refers to a deceptive scheme where fraudsters try to trick individuals by posing as helpers seeking to provide compensation for those who have fallen victim to scams.

This type of scam often appears in spam folders within emails. In these fraudulent emails, the sender falsely claims to be organizing compensation for individuals who have been scammed before. The email recipient is told that their name is on a list of victims. However, it’s important to recognize that this entire scenario is a ruse.

The scammers aim to dupe the recipient into sharing personal information. To proceed with the supposed compensation process, the recipient is asked to provide certain personal details. In reality, the scammers are seeking to gather sensitive information that they can exploit for various fraudulent activities. It’s essential to be cautious and skeptical of such emails, as they are part of the scammer’s attempt to manipulate and steal personal information.

Elder fraud

Elder fraud refers to various online scams designed to specifically exploit older individuals. These scams often focus on stealing personal information from seniors, as they are seen as more vulnerable to certain deceptive tactics.

Some common types of elder fraud include identity theft, where personal details are stolen for malicious purposes. For more information on identifying and reporting these scams, you can refer to our dedicated elder fraud article.

Investment scams

Investment scams target elderly individuals who are seeking investment opportunities to add to their retirement funds. These scams promise unusually high returns on investment, appealing to seniors’ desire for quick financial gains.

However, these promises are false and are made with the intention of tricking older adults into giving away their money. It’s crucial for seniors to be cautious and thoroughly research any investment offers to avoid falling victim to such deceptive schemes.

Insurance schemes

Insurance schemes involve fraudulent attempts to deceive seniors by exploiting the belief that they care deeply about leaving a legacy for their loved ones. Scammers use tactics like phone calls or emails to convince seniors to purchase annuities or life insurance policies they don’t actually need.

These scams can involve fictitious insurance companies, but sometimes even real insurance agents participate in such schemes, some of whom have been caught multiple times. The goal is to trick seniors into making unnecessary insurance purchases, ultimately benefiting the scammers rather than the seniors or their families.

Health scams

As individuals grow older, their health can often decline, leading to an increased likelihood of needing prescription medications, which can be costly.

To address this issue, numerous online pharmacies have emerged, providing medications and healthcare products at prices lower than the average. However, a significant problem arises: a majority of these websites operate outside legal boundaries and fail to adhere to established norms. For instance, the creator of Canada Drugs is currently a fugitive in the US due to the sale of counterfeit medications. Despite this, the Canada Drugs website continues to operate without interruption.

Due to the absence of proper oversight and regulations, consumers are left in a vulnerable position. They lack the means to determine the authenticity and effectiveness of the products they purchase, leaving them uncertain about what they’re actually receiving or whether they’ll even receive anything at all.

Grandparent scam

The grandparent scam is a type of vishing, which means it’s a scam carried out over the phone. In this scheme, a person pretends to be the grandchild of a grandparent and claims to be in urgent need of money. They might say they’re in a difficult situation like being in jail or needing medical assistance in another country. The caller insists that they need the money right away.

Because of the emotional connection between grandparents and their grandchildren, the distressing story often triggers a strong reaction from the targeted grandparent. This emotional manipulation is a key element of the scam. According to a scammer who was caught and convicted, approximately one out of every 50 people they contacted fell for this scam due to the convincing nature of the deception and the emotional plea for help.

Extortion

Extortion is a type of scam where someone threatens you with harm or a negative outcome unless you pay them money quickly. This could involve real consequences or ones they make up.

Extortion schemes vary in complexity, depending on how creative the person doing it is.

Here are some online extortion scams to watch out for:

  • Ransomware: This is when your computer files get locked by a hacker, and they promise to unlock them if you pay them a fee. An example is the WannaCry attack in 2017, where over 400,000 computers were affected. Criminals got about $140,000 worth of Bitcoin to unlock files.
  • Sextortion: This scam tricks people into sharing personal photos or videos, often through dating sites or social media. The scammers threaten to release these private things unless you pay them.
  • Hitman: In this frightening scam, you get an email threatening violence or even death, claiming the sender has been hired to hurt you. They say they’ll stop if you pay them.
  • Terrorist Threat: Similar to the hitman scam, this preys on the fear of terrorism. You’re told you’ll be safe if you pay.
  • Bomb Threat: This scam capitalizes on fears from recent world events. You receive an email saying there’s a bomb in your building, and they’ll remove it if you pay.
  • DDoS Attack: This attack overwhelms websites or internet services with too much traffic, causing them to slow down or shut down. The victims are told to pay to regain control. Businesses are often targeted.
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It’s not just about taking your money; some scammers also want your personal information for identity theft. To protect yourself, be cautious online and back up your important files regularly.

Phishing

Phishing is a type of online scam where attackers try to deceive you into sharing sensitive information. This trick often begins with a fraudulent email or message designed to make you provide personal details that can be used against you. These scams are widespread due to their potential for success, so they target a large number of people, often through emails.

Spear phishing is a more personalized form of phishing. The attacker gathers some information about you from sources like social media. They then create tailored messages that might ask for additional private details like passwords or payment information.

Whaling is a specialized kind of phishing aimed at high-level executives in companies who can access authoritative email accounts. Once they gain access to these accounts, they can use them to gather sensitive employee data or even initiate fraudulent financial transactions.

W-2 phishing is an even more specific version of whaling. It concentrates on obtaining W-2 forms (tax forms) from employees or W-9 forms from contractors. The attackers often impersonate executives, the IRS, or accounting firms to dupe individuals into sharing these documents, which can then be exploited for identity theft.

Some phishing attacks go a step further by delivering ransomware, malicious software that locks users out of their systems or files until a ransom is paid. This approach gives criminals an additional advantage by combining phishing with a damaging attack on the victim’s digital assets.

Vishing scams

Vishing: Voice Phishing Scams

Voice phishing, commonly known as vishing, is a type of scam that utilizes phone calls to deceive individuals or businesses and obtain sensitive information or money. Unlike online scams, vishing relies on social engineering techniques to manipulate victims. Scammers impersonate trusted entities, like financial institutions or government agencies, to trick victims into divulging personal details, financial information, or sending money.

The advantage of vishing lies in its personal approach, which captures attention more effectively than email spam. Since phone calls are less common than emails, scammers have a better chance of engaging targets. While vishing requires more effort than email phishing, Voice over IP (VoIP) technology has made it easier for scammers to initiate mass calls.

Vishing scams encompass various scenarios, such as bank fraud, tax-related scams, prize scams, tech support fraud, and impersonation of government agencies. In bank fraud, scammers pose as bank representatives to inform victims of suspicious activity on their accounts. They may request sensitive information or convince victims to install malicious software under the guise of protection.

Tax scams involve both phone calls and emails. Automated calls target numerous individuals, with scammers focusing on those who return calls, considering them more likely to fall for subsequent stages of the scam.

Prize scams use phone calls or automated messages to inform targets of fictitious winnings, aiming to extract personal data for identity theft or credit card fraud.

Tech support scams often start as phone calls but lead to online interactions. Scammers impersonate tech experts, prompting victims to grant remote access to their computers. This allows scammers to install malware, steal data, and demand payment for their “services.”

Government agency impersonation preys on fear by posing as law enforcement or government officials. Victims are coerced into sharing sensitive information under the pretense of legal action. Legitimate government contacts usually occur in person or through official mail channels.

Overall, vishing scams are becoming more sophisticated and remain a significant threat, as scammers adapt their tactics to exploit human psychology and technology advancements.

Social media scams

Social media scams are fraudulent activities that occur on social media platforms due to their growing popularity. Scammers take advantage of users’ curiosity and trust to deceive them. Here are a few specific examples of social media scams:

  • “See who’s viewed your profile” Scam: This scam preys on users’ curiosity about who has viewed their Facebook profiles. Users might encounter ads promising to reveal this information if they download a certain app. However, Facebook does not provide this information to third-party apps. When users download the app, they unknowingly give access to their Facebook accounts, including personal and potentially sensitive information.
  • Facebook “dislike” button Scam: Scammers exploit the desire for a “dislike” button on Facebook. They post ads for this feature that lead to pages resembling official Facebook pages. These fake pages contain links to phishing sites that aim to gather personal information from users.
  • Fake Celebrity News Scam: Scammers create sensational headlines about celebrities, like fake deaths or relationships, to lure users into clicking on links. Once users click on the link, they are prompted to enter their Facebook credentials to view the full article. This provides scammers with access to the users’ accounts.
  • Impersonation Scam: Scammers create fake profiles that closely mimic real users. They send friend or follow requests to the target’s friends and family and then use these connections for malicious activities like spreading malware or requesting money under false pretenses.
  • Instagram Likes Scam: Scammers exploit users’ desire for more likes and followers on platforms like Instagram. Some apps, like InstLike, ask for usernames and passwords in exchange for likes and follows. However, these apps may misuse the credentials, turning users’ accounts into part of a social botnet. Users are often asked to pay fees for additional engagement as well.
  • Job Offer Scam: This scam often occurs on professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Scammers offer job opportunities that seem legitimate. Once a user is “hired,” they may be asked to handle money transfers as part of the job. They deposit a cashier’s check, transfer funds, and keep a portion as their fee. However, the initial check is fake, leading to financial loss for the user.

Social media users should be cautious of these scams, avoid sharing personal information with unknown apps or profiles, and verify the authenticity of offers before taking any action.

Travel scams

In the modern era, travel scams have become increasingly prevalent due to the popularity of online bookings for flights, hotels, and vacation packages. Scammers exploit this trend by creating fraudulent travel websites that offer fake tickets and vacations that do not actually exist.

These scams are lucrative for criminals since travel expenses are usually substantial. Additionally, booking travel involves paying a significant amount of money upfront, often without receiving any tangible confirmation until the travel date.

One particularly troublesome aspect of these scams is that victims might only discover they’ve been tricked upon reaching their destination or the airport, where their booking may not be recognized at all. This leaves victims not only out of their initial payment but also potentially facing the dilemma of having to spend more money to salvage their vacation plans or, in some cases, abandon their trip altogether.

Several types of travel scams exist:

  • Free or Discounted Vacation Scam: Scammers contact targets via phone or email, claiming the target has won a vacation. To claim the prize, victims are required to pay a small fee upfront or provide credit card information for a deposit. In either scenario, the scammer gains the money or credit card details, leading to financial loss or credit card fraud.
  • Vacation Ticket Re-Sell Scam: Perpetrators post ads selling (fake) tickets for trips they purportedly can’t attend, offering them at significantly lower prices than their actual value. Victims often realize the scam only when they arrive at the airport, expecting to travel with these tickets. The scam is fueled by the difficulty of obtaining ticket refunds from insurance companies and the perceived credibility of online ticket sales.
  • Points Scheme Scam: In this scam, targets are contacted by phone or email and informed that they’ve won a substantial number of travel points, often through a points card program or a travel credit card scheme. To confirm the transaction, victims are asked to provide personal details, such as account information and credit card details. These details can then be exploited for financial gain.
  • Vacation Rental Scam: Scammers post enticing ads for vacation rentals in desirable locations at unrealistically low prices. Victims are required to send a deposit or full payment in advance. Upon reaching their destination, victims might find that the property doesn’t exist, has been misrepresented, or is unavailable for rent.

In a landscape where convenience and trust are essential for travelers, these scams exploit the vulnerabilities inherent in the online travel booking process, causing financial loss and dashed vacation plans for unsuspecting victims.

Tax scams

Tax Scams: Exploiting Fear and Trust

During tax season, when people are already apprehensive about filing their taxes, scammers further complicate matters. These criminals use various tactics to target both taxpayers and the government through tax-related scams.

Fake Audit Scam: In this scam, individuals receive communication from someone claiming to be from the IRS or a similar tax agency. The scammer alleges an audit has uncovered discrepancies, demanding immediate payment to avoid additional fees, jail time, or deportation. This threat, often conveyed through emails or recorded voicemails, is a persistent problem due to its simple execution.

Interestingly, in Canada, these scams sometimes involve requests for payment through iTunes gift cards, despite the implausibility.

Fake Refund Scam: This scam preys on those expecting tax refunds. Impersonating the IRS, scammers provide a link for victims to claim their refund. However, the link leads to a phishing site requesting personal information like social security numbers and banking details, which can then be used for identity theft.

Erroneous Refund Scam: This scheme is more intricate, using real client information stolen from accounting firms through hacking or phishing. Scammers file fraudulent tax refund requests with the IRS using this data.

Once the IRS processes the refund and the client receives the money, the scammer poses as the IRS or a collection agency, demanding the refund be returned—redirecting the payment to themselves. This places the victim in a difficult spot, losing both their refund and potentially facing IRS repercussions for filing a false claim.

Tax Protester Scheme: Criminals adopting this scheme contact individuals, claiming they don’t need to pay taxes. While this might seem more like trolling than scamming, the consequences are severe. Neglecting tax payments can lead to convictions, fines, and imprisonment. Though the perpetrators don’t gain financially, the victims face real legal trouble.

In a realm already burdened with financial concerns and legal intricacies, these scams exploit fear and trust to further victimize taxpayers. Awareness and vigilance are essential defenses against falling prey to these fraudulent schemes.

Fake anti-virus software popup Windows scam

Fake anti-virus software popup windows are a type of online deception. These popups appear on your screen and urge you to download supposed anti-virus software to protect your computer.

Unfortunately, if you follow these prompts, you could unwittingly download harmful software (malware) instead of actual protection. This is a tactic often used by scammers to trick people into infecting their computers with malicious programs. It’s important to be cautious and only download software from trusted sources to avoid falling victim to this kind of scam.

Fake websites scam

Fake websites are websites that pretend to be real and trustworthy but are actually set up for deceptive purposes. They are commonly employed in phishing scams, which are attempts to trick people into revealing sensitive information like usernames, passwords, banking details, or personal information.

In these scams, scammers often create a duplicate of a genuine website, making it look almost identical. They then send out messages, emails, or links that direct unsuspecting individuals to these fake sites. For instance, imagine a scenario where someone receives an email with a link to a website that looks just like Facebook’s login page.

People who click on such links might think they are on the authentic Facebook website and input their login credentials. However, since it’s a fake site, the scammers capture the entered information, using it for malicious purposes like unauthorized access to accounts or identity theft.

The provided image from the Expr3ss blog serves as an example of a well-designed fake Facebook login page. These deceptive websites rely on their close resemblance to legitimate sites to trick individuals into divulging confidential information, and it’s important to be cautious and verify the authenticity of websites before sharing any personal or sensitive data.

Counterfeit goods sites

Counterfeit goods websites are a particular kind of fraudulent online platforms. These sites imitate trusted websites to make fake products appear genuine. For instance, well-known brands such as Ugg, Coach, and Michael Kors have encountered instances where their websites are replicated almost perfectly.

This tricks consumers into thinking they are buying authentic products from these brands, when in reality, they are purchasing counterfeits.

Ticket scams

Ticket scams can affect more than just travelers; people looking to attend concerts or sporting events are also frequently targeted.

These scams involve individuals buying tickets through online platforms, only to discover upon arriving at the event that the tickets they hold are counterfeit. This deceptive practice preys on the trust of buyers and can lead to disappointment and financial loss.

Rental scam

The rental scam is a deceptive scheme that targets individuals who are in urgent need of finding a place to live.

In this scam, fraudulent rental advertisements are placed online, featuring prices lower than the average market rates. This tactic attracts a large number of interested renters. The scammers, posing as landlords, often claim to be currently abroad and unable to conduct in-person property viewings. Instead, they assure potential renters that if they’re not content with the property upon arrival, a refund will be provided.

To secure the rental, these scammers typically demand payment for the first and last month’s rent upfront. In addition to this, they might request potential renters to fill out a form containing personal information, including banking details. This step is presented as part of the rental application process.

In reality, these scammers have no intention of providing any property for rent, and the advertised place might not even exist. Once they receive the initial payment and personal information, they disappear, leaving victims without a place to live and vulnerable to potential financial harm due to stolen personal data.

It’s important to exercise caution when dealing with online rental listings, and it’s recommended to verify the legitimacy of the landlord and the property before making any payments or sharing sensitive information.

SMS scams

SMS scams, also known as smishing scams, are a type of scam that involves sending deceptive text messages to target individuals. These scams are similar to phishing and vishing scams but use text messages instead.

Text messaging, commonly referred to as SMS, is a feature available on most mobile phones globally. Despite the rise of internet-based messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, traditional SMS messaging remains widely used. Scammers capitalize on this accessibility to reach potential victims.

A typical smishing text message shares similar objectives with various fraudulent activities. Scammers might encourage recipients to click on a link, which could lead to the installation of malware or adware on the device. Alternatively, the link might direct users to a realistic-looking fake website where they are coerced into revealing their login credentials for a legitimate site. In some instances, scammers might provide a phone number to call, which could initiate a vishing (voice phishing) scam.

While the tactics employed in SMS scams resemble those used in email and voice scams, there are specific scenarios unique to smishing. For example, scammers might try to convince recipients to activate a new credit card or falsely claim that an account is about to expire. It’s important to remain cautious and skeptical of unexpected text messages that request personal information or urge immediate actions.

Amazon phishing scam

An Amazon phishing scam involves a complicated plan where people buy things on Amazon from sellers who aren’t directly associated with Amazon. When the ordered item doesn’t arrive, the buyers contact the sellers to ask about it. The sellers then convince the buyers to finish the payment outside of Amazon’s official process. This lets the sellers take the money and gain access to the buyers’ payment details.

Amazon delivery scam

The Amazon delivery scam involves third-party sellers who carry out a distinct scheme. They send packages without actual contents to incorrect addresses, and individuals involved in the scam sign for these empty packages.

This signing makes it complicated for victims to file claims with Amazon because the package is technically marked as “delivered.” This approach exploits the process and creates hurdles for customers seeking recourse.

Astroturfing (advertising scam)

Astroturfing, which refers to an advertising scam, has a history spanning several years. It involves a company falsely generating support for its product to attract customers. A well-known instance is McDonald’s paying its employees to form a queue, creating excitement for the launch of the Quarter Pounder in Japan. The influence of online reviews has turned them into a tool for digital astroturfing.

In this practice, businesses pay individuals to craft fabricated positive reviews on supposedly unbiased review platforms. Even Facebook groups exist where members exchange reviews for specific sites such as Amazon or certain product categories like books.

Consumers heavily rely on these reviews to make purchasing decisions, often leading them to acquire subpar products, services, or even nothing at all.

Continuity scams

Continuity scams encompass a variety of deceptive schemes, but they usually share common characteristics. One prevalent approach involves displaying pop-up ads that promise free gifts or exceptional bargains. When individuals engage, they’re prompted to provide their credit card information to cover nominal expenses like fees or shipping. Unbeknownst to many, these transactions often involve hidden clauses in fine print that entail exorbitant recurring monthly charges.

These fees can be extremely challenging to terminate, requiring individuals to reach out to their credit card issuer to prevent future charges. However, reimbursement for the already paid fees is improbable. This emphasizes the importance of regularly examining your financial statements, as these illicit charges might easily slip by unnoticed.

Stock market scam

A stock market scam is a type of deception similar to astroturfing, and it typically happens openly. In this scam, individuals use articles or other means to convince possible investors to put in money based on overly optimistic forecasts. For instance, in March 2021, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took action against a trader in California who was sharing fake stock-related tweets to deceive others.

Buyer scams

When selling items online, there’s a risk of encountering buyer scams. These scams involve deceptive tactics used by some individuals to trick sellers. One common approach scammers use is to create a false impression of a pending payment.

They might send fake payment notifications, such as fabricated PayPal or email transfer messages, claiming that payment will be sent after you provide tracking information for the sold item. However, once you send the item, you’ll never actually receive any payment. This highlights the importance for sellers to be cautious and vigilant to avoid falling victim to such schemes.

Overpayment scam

The overpayment scam is a warning sellers should be aware of, particularly in transactions involving the sale of goods or services, frequently occurring within classified advertisements.

Here’s how it works: A fraudster makes a payment for the item or service you’re selling, but intentionally sends an excessive amount. They then request you to reimburse the surplus amount. However, what often occurs—preferably for the scammer—is that they cancel or withdraw their initial payment, usually after you’ve already issued the refund. As a result, you’re left without any legitimate payment while having inadvertently provided them with a partial refund. It’s a deceptive maneuver that exploits the expectation of genuine overpayment to the seller’s detriment.

How to recognize scams

Recognizing scams, especially online ones, is crucial due to their frequent occurrence. It’s challenging to list all possible scams since new ones keep emerging. Thus, it’s vital to be vigilant and watch for signs that something might be amiss.

Identifying secure websites

Online scams often involve fake websites that look legitimate. Scammers use these sites to collect sensitive information. As it’s easy to create convincing websites, how can you be certain a site is safe? This is a valid concern addressed comprehensively in a post about spotting fake sites.

Various methods help you determine a site’s legitimacy. Some are technical, like ensuring the website’s domain matches the one in your browser’s address bar. Others involve a holistic approach, such as confirming the site has valid contact information and lacks spelling errors.

While no foolproof method guarantees a site’s trustworthiness, there are multiple checks you can perform to make an informed judgment.

Detecting fake phishing emails

Preventing scams starts with not falling for them. Like Mr. Miyagi’s advice in Karate Kid, the best defense is to avoid getting tricked. However, scammers are crafty, making it challenging to spot phishing emails.

The key to avoiding falling into online scams and phishing attempts involves several simple steps:

  • Stay Calm: Don’t panic when receiving alarming messages via email, phone calls, or websites. Scammers often use fear to manipulate you into taking hasty actions.
  • Verify Communication: Remember that legitimate institutions like banks or PayPal won’t ask for sensitive information through attachments or emails. They’ll contact you through secure methods like phone calls or your account message center.
  • Check Links Carefully: If an email contains links, don’t click on them right away. Hover your mouse pointer over the link to see the actual destination URL in a pop-up. This helps you ensure that the link is genuine.
  • Examine Website URLs: Always check the website address in the browser’s address bar. Secure websites have a padlock icon and a URL that matches the official domain of the institution.
  • Avoid Attachments: Be cautious of email attachments, especially from unknown senders. Legitimate organizations rarely send important documents via email attachments.
  • Personalized Communication: Scammers often use generic greetings like “Dear Valued Customer.” Legitimate institutions address you by your name.
  • Question Immediate Action: Be wary of emails urging immediate action. Scammers create urgency to prevent you from taking time to think.
  • Research Suspicious Content: If something seems off, research the content online or directly contact the institution to verify its legitimacy.
  • Beware of Spear Phishing: Be cautious if an email is highly personalized or appears to be from someone you know but asks for unusual requests. It might be a targeted spear phishing attempt.
  • Trustworthy Sources Only: Only rely on official sources for contact information. Avoid using contact details provided in suspicious emails.
  • Avoid Sharing Personal Details: Never share sensitive information like passwords, social security numbers, or credit card details via email or phone.
  • Educate Yourself: Stay informed about common phishing tactics and the latest scams. Knowing what to look for can help you spot potential threats.

Remember, scammers often prey on emotions like fear and urgency. By staying calm, verifying communication, and practicing caution, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to phishing and online scams.

How to avoid a scam and protect yourself from fraud

Scammers are always changing their tactics, but there are simple steps you can take to safeguard yourself from the latest scams. Here’s how:

  • Be Cautious with Contacts: If someone contacts you unexpectedly, be cautious. Scammers can fake calls and emails from various sources, even reputable ones like government agencies, charities, banks, and big companies. Never share personal information, passwords, or codes that could compromise your accounts or identity.
  • Use Multifactor Authentication: Enable multifactor authentication on accounts that offer it. Try non-SMS options to avoid SIM swapping, a technique scammers use to take control of your phone number.
  • Research Companies: Before making purchases or donations, take a few minutes to research the company. Look up their name along with terms like “scam” or “reviews.” For charities, check resources like Charity Navigator and CharityWatch.
  • Handle Calls Carefully: If you suspect a call is spam, don’t engage or press any buttons. The safest action is to hang up or ignore it. If you’re concerned, look up the organization’s official contact and call them back.
  • Beware of Refund Requests: Be cautious if a company or person asks you to refund or forward money. Often, the initial payment is fraudulent and will be reversed later, leaving you at a loss.
  • Watch for Odd Payment Requests: Scammers may demand payment via wire transfer, money order, cryptocurrency, or gift cards. These methods can be hard to trace and undo, leaving you vulnerable.

What are the latest phone scams?

The latest phone scams include the Credit Card Fraud Scams where scammers use a 1-800 number that appears to match the one on the back of your credit card. They manipulate caller ID to make it seem legitimate.

They’ll call you and claim there’s suspicious activity on your card, asking for your personal and financial information. It’s important to verify such calls independently and never share sensitive info over the phone.

What are scammer numbers?

Scammer numbers are phone numbers that you don’t recognize when they appear on your caller ID. These numbers often belong to individuals or groups attempting to deceive or defraud you. Some phones might even display a “scam likely” message to warn you about potential scams.

If this feature isn’t available on your device, it’s helpful to identify common scam phone numbers by looking at their area codes. This awareness can help you avoid falling victim to fraudulent schemes.

Do banks refund scammed money?

Banks are obligated both legally and ethically to reimburse customers for money lost due to scams. However, there are instances where recovering scammed funds might not be possible.

This can occur due to reasons such as insufficient evidence or mistakes made on the customer’s part. Unfortunately, in certain cases, the culprits responsible for the theft might evade capture and retain the stolen money.

How do spammers fake phone numbers?

Spammers and robocallers fake phone numbers through a technique called neighbor spoofing. This method makes the caller ID display a phone number that looks similar to yours, aiming to make you more likely to pick up the call. To tackle this issue, the FCC is mandating the phone industry to implement a strong caller ID authentication system to counter neighbor spoofing.

How long does it take a scammer to ask for money?

Scammers often invest at least 6 months in building a rapport to gain your trust. Once they feel you trust them, they swiftly move to exploit that trust, aiming to persuade you into sharing money or sensitive personal information.

How to report a scam

If you fall victim to a scam, report it to the FTC and local law enforcement. Your report can help others avoid similar scams. Reporting a scam involves several steps to ensure your safety and help prevent others from falling victim:

  • Contact the Platform: If you realize you’re being scammed, contact the platform where you encountered the scammer. This helps them take action against the scammer and prevent further incidents.
  • Local Police: Depending on the scam’s nature, consider reporting it to your local police, especially if you’ve lost money, engaged in illegal activities, or facing extortion.
  • Fraud Center: Report the incident to your country’s fraud center, such as:
  1. US: FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center
  2. Canada: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
  3. Australia: ACCC Scamwatch
  4. UK: Action Fraud
  • Raise Awareness: Even if it’s uncomfortable, report the scam. Increased reporting aids law enforcement in catching scammers and raises awareness about online dangers.

By taking these steps, you contribute to safeguarding yourself and others from scams and online threats.