Internet fraud has been a pain in the lives of many people. A large number of people have lost fortunes to internet fraudsters. With the accessibility of the internet to anyone with a smartphone, there’s no limit of what a fraudster could do; all he needs is information.
Internet fraud is a type of fraud or deception which makes use of the internet and could involve hiding of information or providing incorrect information for the purpose of tricking victims out of money, property, and inheritance. Internet fraud is not considered a single, distinctive crime but covers a range of illegal and illicit acts carried out in the internet.
According to the FBI’s 2017 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received about 300,000 complaints. Victims lost over $1.4 billion in online fraud in 2017 and 2.7 billion dollars was also lost in the year 2018 to internet fraudsters.
When internet fraud is being talked about, most fingers point to Africa, especially Nigeria as the country is said to be responsible for internet fraud mayhem due to the fact that many internet fraudsters have been traced to the country. While it is unfortunate to say that this is not far from the truth but victims of internet fraud must take a share of the blame for this menace because it takes two to tango.
Our aim in this article is to educate internet users on how internet fraudsters operate and how to stay safe from them since it has become something that has come to stay and internet fraudsters make use of our favorite social network sites just as we do.
The most common types of online fraud are called phishing and spoofing. Phishing is the process of collecting your personal information through emails or websites claiming to be legitimate. This information can include usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, etc. Often times, the emails direct you to a website where you can update your personal information.
Because these sites often look “official,” they hope you’ll be tricked into disclosing valuable information that you normally would not naturally reveal. This, often times, results in identity theft and financial loss as your data is being transferred to the site once you click on it and open it up.
This is the advanced kind of internet fraud but there are stages it passes through as most internet fraudsters don’t just send random emails to random person; they try to establish relationships and gain trust so when the prospective victim is asked to do anything or sent a link to click on, he/she won’t have second thoughts.
Some internet fraudsters use the method called Spamming which is related to phishing. The spam email addresses send mails to random email addresses, the email sent contains a folder, inside the folder contains a program called ‘virus’, the virus could be attached as a pdf document or a word document, once you click on the folder and download it or open it the virus spreads into your device, this happens in seconds and you as a lay man user of computer you won’t notice. What this virus program does is that it transfers all your details, all activities carried out in the device and to spammers and spammers become in charge of your device, and could gain uninterrupted access to your device anytime. They could access your mail through the virus, send mails using your email address and respond to mails using your email address .
Other internet fraudsters device means of getting you through provision of care, attention and love and even offer to date you. A fraudster does not mind spending a whole year with you just to make sure you fall in love with him or trust him. He claims to be who he’s not. Some claim to be in the US army fighting in war zones like Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and other war ravaged countries, while others claim to be United Nations humanitarian corps sent to disease infested countries. Another set of people might claim to be international business men and contractors. All of these personalities presented to you is for you to fall prey to the charming pictures, bogus profile and promising future.
Some only send pictures and don’t accept video calls because they are ‘Cat fishes’, some accept video calls on their own terms that they would call at their own convenience, the video call sent to you is a moving motion of the person impersonated picture with voice added to it and because of your inexperience, you may likely believe that your spouse is real but he’s just an impersonator. Once you fall in love or they have gained your trust they will start asking you for money and other items with different reasons; the ones that claim to be military officers will ask you to pay to their Commanding officers so that they would sign a terminal leave and come to you; the medical staff or international business men will claim that they are stranded where they are and left with no cash and request you send them cash instantly to sort themselves out. Just because you have fallen in love and trusted them, you will not ask further questions and just go ahead in granting their wishes.
This could go on for years with you seeing only pictures of them till you get fed up or discover that they are fraudsters and block them off but before then they have sapped a fortune out of you.
Other fraudsters pose as dealers, real estate agents, company agents or even as the CEO of a popular company. They send messages to unsuspecting victims presenting a deal, an inducing deal at a very cheap price. Some claim to be gold sellers or dealers, real estate dealers, some even claim to be selling oil wells and companies. They have done their homework so they have any document you could ever ask for already, and will present it to you even before you ask. After seeing documents, you will think you are in a great deal because of the cheap rate of the items, but it’s all forged and fake.
An oil well that the standard price is 50 billion USD will be presented to you to be 10 million USD, and the price will induce you because you are paying less for more. When you ask why the item is going for so cheap a price, they’d come up with different reasons like; “they are in need of an urgent cash”, “they are giving promo/giveaway” or “they want to get rid of the business”. Once you make payment, they disappear.
Although they are other numerous ways internet fraudsters operate, highlighted ones are the most areas that have gotten so many persons as victims. They operate with the popular social media.
The best way to stay safe from internet fraud is not to develop trust issues, but to be circumspect and deliberate. Always ask further questions, do not be in a hurry and avoid being put under undue pressure to part with your money. Make online purchases from the direct source even if it’s more expensive and don’t open emails or click on sites whose sender you do not know, and finally, refrain from opening unsecure web pages.