We’ve dealt with cybercrimes, cyberbullying and mobile safety in our series on digital frauds. We’re ending this leg of the series with a quick guide to online scams. The amount of money lost in fake financial opportunities is increasing. Increasingly, scammers, enabled by social media, are getting in on the act. Celebrity endorsements are fake and there’s no product. The online scams reported include those featuring fake endorsements by actors and actresses Amitabh Bachchan, Alia Bhatt, Cate Blanchett as well as TV presenters.
Another popular online scam is the free trial offer, which claims to provide, for example, free one-month trials of a product. The fine print includes terms stating that after the trial period, you’ll be paying for the product once a month… forever.
Other examples of Internet scams include fake Wi-Fi hotspots, social media and email messages indicating you’ve won an expensive prize and bogus pop-ups warning of supposed viruses and malware. The latter often looks like legitimate antivirus programs. But what you’re doing to ‘fix’ your computer is actually infecting it with a virus.
Unfortunately, these are merely some of the many online scams that exist. Here are more:
1. Error online scams
Many online scams are rife with grammatical and spelling errors. If you receive messages laden with such errors about a “great deal” or contest, it’s probably a scam, even if it comes from a “friend.”
2. Foreign offers
Messages from “foreign princes” claiming you need to help them transfer thousands of rupees, and simply have to pay the INR 1,000 wiring fee to enjoy a cut of the money, are now classic online scams.
3. Emotional manipulation
Financial stress, loneliness, and frustration are examples of the emotional states scammers prey on. They might not ask for money, but they will insist on personal information. They will then use it to steal identities.
4. Email password stealing
To initiate this scam, cybercriminals need to know your email address and associated phone number. With this information handy, an attacker can then capitalize on the password recovery feature. It allows an email user to gain access to their account by a verification code sent to their mobile. The attacker uses the verification code to reset the password, gaining access to the email account.