Red Flags to Spot Online Scams Part One

Since we’ve started scouring the internet for job leads, we’ve been blown away by the number of scams there are. In all honesty, it makes my blood boil when I spot them (whether it be cleverly disguised or just blatant). What I find even worse is how many people are actually falling for them. Think about it a second, some random person on the other side of the world wants to send you $10,000,000.00. All you have to do is send them the $1,000.00 administration fee to have the money released. Really now? Just…really?!?!

Anyway…before I start on a rant…We’ve been talking about this a lot lately. So we thought it would be a good idea to shed some light on a few of these so-called “brilliant ideas”.

Five of the Most Common Online Scams

There are approximately 20 different scams on this list, but I’ll only cover five of them.

1.   The Nigerian 419 Email Scam

This is one of the oldest and most common online scams around. It is known as a 419 scam because of the section in the Nigerian Criminal Code banning this practice. Though referred to as a Nigerian scam, it only originated there but is being practiced worldwide.

Typically, an emotional email will be sent stating that they need financial assistance to gain access to a large sum of money in exchange for a portion of it. Over time, they become more and more aggressive with their requests. You keep handing over the money they “need”, yet you never see any proof of the papers they’re trying to get or the money.

Nigerian 419 email scam
Example of the typical Nigerian 419 email scam. Source: Mother Jones

Red Flags

  • You receive a letter/SMS/social media message/email out of the blue from an unknown contact requesting help to transfer funds.
  • A long-winded, sad story about why the money can’t be transferred/accessed.
  • A large sum is offered as compensation.
  • Requests for funds to assist with hold-ups with the bank or attorneys.

2.   The Facebook Impersonation Scam (Hijacked Profile)

Associated scandals aside, Facebook remains the most popular social media network where users are still active and online every day. This makes it the perfect platform for scammers to find potential victims. These scammers copy images from real people to create a fake account. In most cases, the goal of the fake account is to lure visitors to a particular website via their link.

Facebook Profile

Red Flags of a fake social media account

  • URL name and profile name differ
  • Little to no friends or interactions
  • No About/Contact information
  • Too many Ad-filled websites shared (clickbait)
  • Indistinct or generic images uploaded

With the escalated popularity of social media in general and the personal information posted online, we all should be protecting our accounts as closely as we would our bank accounts.

That’s It for Now…

Since there is so much information about this topic, I will separate it into two parts. In part two I will cover the other three common scams and some tips to avoid them.

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