With the maturity of the Internet came the maturity of the online scam artist. Not only are there more various cons than ever, it’s easier than ever for con artists to steal your identity, obtain personal information and leech money from you and the people you love.
Unfortunately, we live in the golden age of the con artist.
How Do Scam Artists Win Your Trust?
Scam artists who have the most success are engaging and charismatic. This is their job, and they will remain career criminals until and unless they are caught. They will at once put you at ease and figure out your vulnerabilities. They will entice you to let your guard down.
Con artists emerge from all income levels and both sexes and they cleverly designed all types of scams, including falsified mortgage loans, identity theft, mail fraud and real estate investment schemes.
Social networking makes a scam artist’s job even easier. They do their groundwork ahead of time and then approach you and other targets. Once a scammer gets your personal information, they may open up credit cards and begin charging items. Some commit income tax fraud.
Who Is Targeted for Fraud?
Seniors feel targeted and vulnerable, and there are scams aimed specifically at them. However, the most attacked group is 14-24 year olds. College students are often strapped for cash, and they spend a lot of time on social networking sites. The most at-risk victims do not see themselves as being at risk.
Con artists do not feel empathy for any of their victims, according to criminology experts, as reported in the Times Dispatch. They will even deny that they have any victims, since their targets seem willing to participate.
Career criminals cannot get what they want by legitimate means. They take advantage of vulnerable or lonely people, like those who are recently widowed. But they prey on people of all ages.
Older Scams that Still Work Today
Foreign lottery scams generally originate in West Africa and Canada. You will be told that you have won a large amount of money, and you may even have a check enclosed that looks legitimate. The scam artist instructs you to pay an upfront fee of $100 or so. Once the money has been transmitted, it’s difficult to recoup.
One woman bought a computer from a big box store recently. She received a warranty with it, for 90 days. The day after that warranty expired, sure enough, her computer unexpectedly locked up.
She called a company named Superior Tech and spoke with a women who had a heavy accent. The woman told her she could fix the computer and provided a year’s worth of PC security for $250. The woman paid and the computer worked for a couple months, then the Superior Tech representative called back. She got belligerent (this is almost a sure sign of a scam) when the woman would not send more money.
The scam is known as Cryptolocker, which locks or encrypts files on your computer. The virus generates a pop-up that prompts you to pay a “ransom” within 72 hours to have your PC unlocked. Websites infected with this malware attempt to install the virus whenever users visit their site.
Do not open attachments in emails unless you know the sender. Even then, right click and open them through your anti-virus software dashboard.
What Can You Do?
Speak to an licensed private investigator about ways to avoid scams. Some suggestions:
- Do not give cash to anyone you don’t know.
- Seek advice before you invest money or sign contracts.
- Don’t be rushed into making decisions about money.
- Shop around for the best prices, rather than impulse buying.
- Never discuss any part of your personal finances with people you don’t know.
- Do not respond to emails or phone calls to verify checking account or credit card numbers.
By stopping to think and checking a suspect business online, you can arm yourself with information that will help in keeping you from becoming a target of fraud.