One of the top online searches at the moment is ‘how to create a scam’. As people have less money and become more desperate for ways to pay the rent or simply live, tricking people into giving them cash and goods is beginning to become widespread.
Stories are emerging constantly of close friends stealing from each other in order to make ends meet and also of the elderly becoming the targets of ruthless scammers.
Keep an eye on your debit or credit card when handing it over
Sometimes when you purchase something the shopkeeper will not have a machine sitting on the counter but instead asks you to hand over your card. It’s a simple matter to copy it in some way without you knowing if the machine is not in view.
Recently I booked into a camping ground over the phone and was asked for my credit card number. I refused, saying that I was the recipient of a few bad experiences in the past from doing that and would have to decline. Not surprisingly, a solution was immediately found, I could make a digital transfer myself to their account and it would be recorded for when I arrived. That is what happened and I was able to avoid the possibility of the credit card number falling into the wrong hands.
Scammers love social media. It’s an easy way to reach billions of people from anywhere in the world. A fake persona can be manufactured to buddy up to someone, or a scammer can hack into an existing profile to get “friends” to con. Personal details shared by people on social media give an opportunity to tune into a target. In fact, the tools are available for scam advertisers on social media platforms to systematically target people with fake ads based on the personal details and their previous purchases.
About a month ago I bought a low cost CPU from a social media marketplace. It arrived in the mail but was poorly packed and faulty so I got in touch with the seller with multiple messages but heard nothing back. My only recourse was to submit a complaint to the social media platform, with no response there either. Fortunately I got a very good legitimate deal a week later and at a very reasonable price. That was achieved by arranging to pick the item up in person at the sellers address. If the CPU had proven to be faulty (which it wasn’t) then I knew exactly where they lived.
It’s easy to be lured to a phoney website which will promise a great deal and take your money but send you nothing. This happens so often these days that the police fraud squads are so completely overwhelmed with work that there is little likelihood of getting justice.
Computers without protection are easy targets too, malware key-logger programs commonly used to get passwords and personal bank account details from people, but often it is simply a matter of saying well if you want the goods then hand over the money, and they are never heard of again.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the average amount of daily time spend online by teenagers is nine hours. What a great opportunity for someone to convince a teen to use Mum or Dad’s credit card to get hold of something really cool.