From shipping frauds to account takeovers, every aspect of online scams has been through the roof in recent times. Although users and companies are becoming more aware of online scams, scammers break the ethics every time with new tricks and techniques. According to a report by TransUnion, from 2020 to 2021, the increase of shipping fraud has jumped over 780%. On top of that, business identity theft has risen by 113%.
Huge, right? But the biggest contributor behind these scams happening is our increasing dependence on the virtual world. As we are spending more time on the internet, it’s been easier for scammers to con people virtually.
Regardless of whether you are a newbie on the internet or a professional IT expert, anyone can fall into the trap of scammers. Plus, identifying these online scams become tougher when the phisher takes the disguise of a well-known, trusted brand or even a close friend of yours. For example, the delivery scams imitating Amazon, UPS, FedEx, and DHL in 2020’s pandemic situations were big contributors to shipping frauds and ransomware. Though the companies that the scammers were imitating are taking strict steps and creating awareness among the customers, we are still falling into their traps.
The Rise of Scam
If you ask where or when the trend of online scams started, then you will be surprised to know that it can be traced back several decades ago. The first online fraud that took place in history was in the early 1970s with email phishing. The most infamous email fraud that happened in Nigeria, known as “419’’ aka ‘‘Advance-Fee’’ or ‘‘The Nigerian Prince scam’’ was identified as one of the most effective online scams in those early days.
Though the trend became more popular in the mid-90s when the internet was easier to access among people. This led to the chances of scamming people online skyrocketing.
Since then, fraudsters have been experimenting with different ways to con people online. There is virtually no place online where you won’t see a scam happening. Credit card frauds, dating site scams, Bitcoin theft, and even video game scams have also been added to the list.
If you are a fan of Pokemon, you might know about the scam that happened on the very popular smartphone game – Pokemon Go, where fraudsters targeted innocent users to earn money.
And do you remember the two men – Ethan Nguyen and Andre Llacuna, who got charged by U.S. government prosecutors for money laundering over NFT “Rugpull” schemes? They had earned around $1.1 million by selling fake cartoon character NFTs and just shut down the site without giving the buyers their promised rewards.
Speaking of cryptocurrency, we can’t forget to mention the name of “Cryptoqueen,” or should we say – the fraud queen Dr. Ruza. She was the founder of Onecoin, and claimed it to be the destroyer of Bitcoin. Her mesmerizing speeches and seminars were so alluring that in just 3 years of Onecoin’s life, it earned more than 4 billion dollars. Even the fans and buyers of Onecoin had their own community and greeting signs for each other. As huge as the hype was, it fell drastically when the Cryptoqueen just disappeared one day without any notice and took all the money with herself.
Adding to the history of scams, the largest amount lost via an email scam amounts to $47 million dollars. The Austrian aerospace parts maker FACC, whose customers include Airbus and Boeing, was hit by a cyber attack in 2016 and had lost that bulk of money.
And what more can we say about crowdfunding scams! Fake companies, making false promises, raising thousands of dollars from Kickstarter and IndieGoGo but never delivering – these events are just too common now. Some companies just vanished like a genie, and backers never got any payback or products for their investment. Frustratingly, the funding sites are unwilling to take any responsibility for these scams. So, next time when you invest in a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign, beware of where you are investing your money.
Online scams have become a huge market as people are getting scammed every day. There is no such place on the internet where you can consider yourself safe. But as time passes, online scams have become pretty common and predictable now.
Such as, can you say when was the last time you had to scan your computer for viruses? Long time right? But once upon a time, it was a big deal for us. Every now and then, we used to scan our PC to avoid any kind of virus attack. Even buying an antivirus like Mcafee, Kaspersky, or Norton was vital for every device. But now, we don’t even remember to click the scan.
Just like that, the first time a scam took place, it became the talk of the town, and with time it started to lose traction. For example, if you think back to the credit card scams in the mid-2000s, they were one of the biggest scams in history. In that scam, a gang of Eastern European Criminals used stolen and cloned details of 32000 credit cards to gain more than 17 million euros.
For years, they continued to steal money and transfer it into different accounts. However, they finally got arrested and imprisoned in 2007. After those big scams happened with renowned banks, the security of credit cards became more tight and hard to break. Plus, card holders are now more aware of their rights and securities. So, scamming someone out of their money using stolen credit cards nowadays is a tough nut to crack.
Keeping Yourself Safe
But if scammers come up with new tricks to con people, it will be hard to identify. So, you should follow at least a few rules to prevent yourself from getting scammed. For example, not sharing any personal details or bank details, keeping your devices secure, being aware of scams that are happening frequently, and many more.
Even when you enter your social media accounts, business accounts, or bank accounts, be sure to enter them in a secure device. Also, use multiple authentication steps to secure your accounts from getting hacked or stolen. And when a software update pops up on your screen, never ignore it to save some time. It’s vital to keep your devices and software up-to-date to prevent hackers from getting access to your accounts.
Online market scams like Alibaba Express, which sells fake products, are also coming into the spotlight. So, before buying products from any known or unknown online shop, checking the shop’s background and credibility is a must!
If you have ever fallen victim to one of these online scams, be sure to report the event. It helps the FBI to keep track of the scam trends and take necessary steps to stop and catch the scammers. And it is equally important that you take active steps to prevent yourself and anyone else from getting scammed or hacked in the future.
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