By Suzanne Stewart
Con men have probably been around about as long as civilization itself. The Internet simply gave the snake oil salesmen of years past a new place to play, and boy have they taken to it like ducks to water! We all know about the person in Nigeria, or some other place, who needs to send us some money. And then there’s the work-from-home scams that end up creating a spammer out of you. Worst of all are probably the ones that target the unemployed, the elderly and the other vulnerable members of our society. Laws have been passed, software has been invented, and yet, the spammers still get through, the scams keep getting more and more elaborate, and the phishers seem to keep reeling in the big ones. Let’s look at some recent cons to hit the Internet’s unsuspecting inhabitants:
Facebook hackers – These type of scams and spams are relatively new, all things considered. Most Facebook related scams have only come about with the evolution in apps. A great looking app will pop up in your Facebook feed. As soon as you click on it, one of two things occurs. You have just given the hackers access to your account, allowing them to use your account to send their spam to all your friends. Or you have just given them access to all your information on your profile – email address, website, etc. – so that they can then use that to spam all your non-Facebook contacts. To keep yourself safe, NEVER click open a new app or link from a friend without checking with them first. If they actually didn’t send it, you’ll know before it’s too late.
Amazon phishing – Scammers have created some pretty realistic looking emails from Amazon. These emails claim that there is a problem with your account and that you need to click on the provided link and provide your accurate information. Once you do, though, you aren’t taken to Amazon but to a fake site that may even look somewhat like an Amazon account page. Any info you submit goes straight to the scammers. Congratulations! You’ve just had your identity stolen, or at least your bank account information.
LinkedIn spammers – This one isn’t so dangerous as it is just plain old annoying. You will receive a very official looking LinkedIn email, purportedly from a member of LinkedIn or someone in their admin. When you click on the links provided, you’ll be taken to a Viagra or Cialis site. These types of spammers are the hardest to catch, as they often use proxies and aren’t even in the country, but rather somewhere overseas.
Better Business Bureau scammers – This one is targeted at business owners. You’ll receive an email from someone reportedly at the BBB that they have received a complaint concerning your business. You’ll be given 7 or 14 days to reply to the complaint, using a link provided. Some of these seem to simply be spam, while others are phishing expeditions aimed at getting your business’s banking information. Still others are being used to infect computers with viruses. A note of warning – the BBB does NOT send emails regarding complaints they may receive against any business. Their standard operating procedure to deal with legitimate complaints is to either place a telephone call or send a letter to the business owner.
So, now you can be a smart surfer, staying away from the scammers, spammers, phishers and other Internet sharks. They may THINK we’re that dumb, but we know we’re really the smarter fish in the sea!