The danger of scams is only getting more prevalent as the digital capabilities of technology are increasing. Many scams take place over social media, resulting in it being seemingly impossible to tell where a scam originates but little discrepancies, such as poor English or the wrong end to an email address can expose a scam.
Becoming the victim of a scam is an extremely scary prospect so it is important to be aware of all the different ways that a scam can materialise. One crucial aspect is where the scam is based.
Dating scams, where they create a fake account and start a relationship in order to later ask them for money, is something to watch out for in Ghana. Online fraudsters have become accustomed to setting up fake profiles only to extort money afterwards. Even if they don’t ask for it immediately, the scammers end goal is always to extract as much money from you as possible, meaning at some point, the conversation will always turn to the subject of money and the prospect of them asking you for a loan to pay off medical bills for a friend in hospital or to repay a debt, should warn you of the covert nature of their operation.
Social media such as Facebook, is where the initial information-gathering stage takes place, so it is good advice to limit the amount of personal information that is accessible on them to strangers.
The Yahoo Boys are a prime Ghanaian example of cybercrime being committed over the internet by defrauding unsuspecting victims over social media. Moreover, the group is constantly recruiting more young boys meaning the dangers of being victimised are now downsizing.
The Yahoo Boys utilise many methods, for instance romantic scams as mentioned before, contacting relatives of the recently deceased requesting money to disclose the necessary documents, and by renting apartments/hotels that they don’t own to foreigners.
The Sakawa Boys, are a group specialising in online fraud for instance email scams, but incorporating it with voodoo or black magic to make the recipient more likely to fall for the scam. This has allowed them to scare the community, allowing them to continue unrestricted despite widespread knowledge of their activity.
Infamous for its far-reaching array of scams, such as false contracts/paperwork, fake unpaid fees, lottery and crypto scams, online dating-site scams and employment scams.
Nicknamed 419 scams due to the specific legislation created to combat them, they mainly take the form of an email, but may also be a phone call. The best way to avoid potential scams is to ensure that you don’t disclose any sensitive details such as your bank account information online until you have verified that the source is legitimate.
It is always a good idea to keep a thorough record of your expenses so that you can easily identify a potential scam. Check the domain names of email addresses, as most Nigerian scams utilise emails as their main medium. You should also check the wording, for instance if you are addressed generically or in a standardised format, particularly for the Nigerian Prince scam.
This is where you are approached by someone of seemingly high importance who is requesting a large sum of money to aid their country.
They may promise a share later, but if this money seems unrealistic, chances are that it is. Despite it being a long running scam, and known by many, it has still proved highly effective and scammed US citizens out of over $700,000 in 2018.
You should continue to be suspicious of a money request even if a small sum of money is sent to you first; this is simply to incite you into sending more money back. It is also worth noting that most Nigerian scammers (71%) reside in the US, so be vigilant.
In the year ending December, 2022, 3.7 million incidents of fraud were reported (ONS), bearing in mind more unreported incidents will have also occurred, and around 43 million adults encountered suspected scams online (Ofcom). Aside from demonstrating the sheer volume of scams and dangers online, it also represents an opportunity for other international scammers to utilise the wide availability of options to ensure scamming success. Given that not all scams work, scammers have to pay attention to the proportion of attempts in relation to the successful outcomes. With a greater number of attempts, chances of success improve exceedingly.
Therefore, scamming and fraud in the UK is a prominent and widespread danger. UK Finance reported in their Annual Fraud Report, that over £1.2 billion was stolen in 2022, and Ofcom showed that 25% of those encountering online scams had lost money as a result.
It is evident that the UK is subject to an extremely large number of scams daily, many of which prove profitable for the scammers and showcase how the UK is particularly victimised. Authorised Push Payment Fraud is extremely common, in which victims are deceived into transferring money (worth £485.2 million in 2022), which is done through fake texts and emails from the HMRC, Paypal, TV Licensing, banks etc… They may also be more specific, such as parcel delivery and energy pricing caps. The increasing breadth of scams currently online means it is more important than ever to question your finances and spending.
Several site-hackers in Romania, mean that your personal information on websites such as dating and gambling sites can leave you vulnerable. Involvement in these sites may result in you being more likely to be targeted by scammers, also romance fraud where real dating profiles are set up to lure usually lonely men into arrangements with woman whom are fronted by scam generals.
Although most scams in the Philippines occur in person, there is a growing trend in online scams, occupying many of the traditional scamming formats, such as romantic scams, phishing and credit lending scams. It is crucial to research what you can to ascertain how legitimate the company or the individual is.
There is also a ‘boiler room’ scam in which you will be called by a salesman selling stocks. There is often no market for these shares causing you to invest in stocks making a loss. They are usually knowledgeable and persistent and so make themselves indistinguishable from a real salesman.
Impersonating a tech support worker is one of many ways that you can get scammed, and this method is common in India, where it is highly likely that you could get charged thousands of pounds for an unnecessary service. Calls about rebates or compensation should alert you to a potential scam, especially if they ask you for a fee or bank details to begin the proceedings. Always be cautious when discussing financial matters over the phone to an unknown caller.
A bout of scams relating to banks, mean that fake text messages and emails with reference to unauthorised payments and/or transfers should be treated with caution. It is not only trojan horse links to be wary of, but also fake websites, which can result in your online data being harvested.
There is a huge variety of damaging and complex scams that may seem perfectly innocent at first, but are instead hiding an unwanted and malicious virus. Being proactive online and looking out for anything out of the ordinary or even outright irrelevant to your life may expose a scam. Being contacted first by a personalised service, should alert you to its false nature.
Online impersonation on dating sites, facilitates data theft. It is important to not reveal personal information online such as your address. Although the appearance of a scam may change, the hidden message of money or private information is a constant. Never disclose these to an unknown source.
There is an extremely wide range of scams to be aware of, including identity theft, phishing, booking scams, malware attacks. Due to the variety and the volume of scams available, it is important to be cautious and look out for telltale signs that something is not quite right, such as grammar errors. Romance scams have recently begun to be heavily associated with Russia and are incredibly sophisticated due to the fact that there is less online censorship compared to other countries, and the average person is much more computer-literate.
They will have researched their victims using social media before approaching but will not always be fluent in English. Russian hacking is a very credible threat, and cyber attacks are used to obtain private information in order to scam you. Malware can even be used to hold you ransom.