The Anatomy Of an Online Scam Artist
Are you the next unsuspecting victim of an elaborate scam? You might think “there’s no way I’d fall for something like that”! But usually it’s the smarter people with some money lying around that end up being targeted by highly persuasive individuals – lawyers, doctors, professors, etc.
This can happen through ads online, email, in an instant message, video chat, or voice call.
- Never make a buying decision immediately after hearing a sales pitch. Always allow yourself 24 hours to think about it so you’re not buying based on emotions and without any facts.
- Do not ever share personal information or life/family problems with someone that is trying to sell you something – they will use every bit of detail to further persuade you. Now that there is easy access to a lot of this type of info with social media, you must be even more cautious – especially when someone immediately plays towards your vulnerable side.
- Always, always ask yourself “what’s in it for the seller?”. If what they’re selling is such a great deal, why wouldn’t they be doing it themselves?
Some elaborate scams go so far as to hire famous actors to further legitimize the operation. These people are likely not aware of what’s really going on – they just come in, do their job, and that’s it.
Whether it’s an email, or whatever avenue a scammer tries to get you through, there will be a lot of emotion involved. So it doesn’t matter how smart you are – if you cannot control your emotions, you are instantly vulnerable. Hence the 24 hour decision window suggested above. Without a healthy balance of logic and emotion, you and Crazy Bob down the street are in the same boat when it comes to being part of a scam.
Maybe you’ve received a phone call like I have. The caller doesn’t even try to figure out what you’re having issues with, instead he skips right to something common that many people may be experiencing – a “problem with your computer”.
The caller says something like “I call to help fix problem with your computer” and tells you to go to the computer where they’ll give you “instructions to fix it”, and who knows what they can get some people to do, especially those who are not computer savvy and do actually have issues regularly with their computers.
Another common scam example includes the various types of emails called “phishing”. A hacker may pose as someone’s bank to get the victim’s bank details. Maybe there’s a link to click on to reset one of your passwords – these pages end up being fake and your accounts are then hacked.
With the internet, scammers have become more and more creative, and it is becoming harder to identify them. An investment or non-profit that looks like there are many people supporting it could all be fake people, with the attempt to create a crowd mentality/trust.
One quick giveaway to a scam is if they’re creating a time pressure causing you to make a decision now without thinking about it first.
- Never give a random caller personal information especially bank or credit card numbers.
- Never do what a random caller tells you to do on your computer.
- Never email sensitive info like your bank details or social security number.
- Never click on suspicious-looking links within emails, social media, or online (especially if they are written with bad grammar).
These tips are great to teach to your kids as well, including never talking to someone online you don’t know in real life, downloading anything, or entering personal information without your/parent’s permission.