Have you ever recieved email about a huge inherritage from a long lost aunt in Nigeria or sweepstakes winnings you never participated in? Most of these require you to transfer an amount of money first to cover eXpenses before they can sent you the small fortune that you are being promised. Most people know not to react to these massages and the request to sent money first scares off most people but there will still be people who will try and sadly enough never see their money nor the promised fortune ever again.
Another scam you are being warned for are phishing e-mails in which they try to retrieve (login/password or creditcard) information from you. Usually they sent e-mails, presumably looking like they are from companies, websites and banks you are familiar with. They mention a reason to log into the service of the company/bank/game and ask you to do so via a link in the email. This link will take you to a website very simular to the original website and once you (try to) log in they retrieve that information from you. When you try to log into the valid website or service you find out they changed the login info and emptied your account or belongings. Sometimes they try to make some eXtra money by telling you to pay a fee to retrieve your account only to find out, after paying, that they stripped all of the belongings to that account already.
Over the years on social media i have also regularly seen warnings for what i call “creative scams”. Let me give you an eXample. One of these warnings tell us about keychains being handed out at gasstations or conveniencestores for free. They are told to contain a tracking device with which the criminal will follow you to see where you live. When you leave the house they can keep track of you so they can break in and keep an eye on you returning home. This message, which is known to circulate in several languages and countries already dating back to 2008 and originate from South Africa. It is a fake trick since these tracking devices have never actually been varified by official police notifications (although at one point the Belgium police has been said to have also spread the original (fake) message) and if you think about it, it would be a very costly and inefficiënt method to eXcecute. When they follow you after handing you the device there is no need to track you and it would be really cost-inefficiënt to give away dozens of high-tech devices to accomodate simple burglaries which have always taken place succesfully with just some common sense and a bit of haste!
Today i spoke to someone that has been scammed this weekend with a trick that im familiar with as well… Ive seen the warnings for this scam on social media several times and i know its true since they tried the same trick on me and my wife several times but luckily we knew about the warnings. It happened to this person as followed: his wife got a phonecall from an english speaking person with a clearly Indian accent stating he is an employer from Microsoft and they have discovered that (one of) your computers at home is infected with a virus, it contains an illegal copy of Windows or another reason why they want you to follow some steps. They asked to turn on the computer and connect to a certain service giving them access to your computer. With this aquantance they let them install some programs to “fiX” their computer and they had to pay €20 euro’s for that via some direct payment service. The transactions flawed a couple of times resulting in several “tries” and after that they were told to leave the computer turned off for at least a day. Not long after they found out their bankaccount was stripped with almost €3000 taken from them. Apperantly the several “tries” were meant to transfer several amounts of money (1X €2500, 1X €375 and several times €20) from their account! To show you how bold these scammers are please listen to what happened neXt.
Later that day they found out that the bank tried to contact them due to suspicious transactions from their bankaccount. Because of this the bank blocked the transaction of €2500. Lucky for the couple that got scammed but the scammer probably was not amused by this chain of events. Therefor they had the courage to contact the couple again the neXt day telling them that they, Microsoft, had made a mistake and would like to transfer back the money that was “mistakenly” taken from their account! Luckily they did not listen to the man anymore since refunding meant they had to log in again and hand over access to their computer yet another time. Even after telling him to stop he had the nerve to call back 7 times!
Ofcourse the couple is in the proces of trying to get their money back and having their statement taken by the police but i doubt they will ever get to the people behind these vile scams. To me it shows that eventhough most of these scams are quite obvious and everyone should by now know about these attempts to get hold of your personal information, there are still people who are unaware or easy to pursuade. And if so, it is also possible that even you or me will eventually fall for one of their tricks. Can we prevent this? Just be carefull and keep thinking, does it sound too good to be true? Then it probably is. Never open email from unknown sources or if you do at least never open the attachments that come with it. The people that are trying to scam you rely on the few that are unaware or inattentive to rake in their “earnings”… So the best advice i can offer you is to always be cautious and please warn others to pay attention. That is why i also wanted to tell you about the previous to show you that it is not always something that happens to others but it can one day happen to any one of us!