A Spike in Online Scams: Common Types & How To Ensure Safety

Home » Funds Recovery Blog » A Spike in Online Scams: Common Types & How To Ensure Safety

Are you also one of those millennials feeling immune to all scams or an elderly who thinks he has had enough experience to fall for a scam? Congratulations, the scammers on the internet have you right where they want. Everyone nowadays uses the internet for both business and pleasure, and they all want to believe that the internet is a safe place. Still, it is always recommended to do a reality check and watch out for online scams that are increasing now more than ever. The risk of being scammed has increased dramatically as internet platforms, online commerce, dating apps, and other such services have grown in popularity. These scammers on the internet can get into your private and professional lives without you having a slight idea. Why? Perhaps because unscrupulous scammers can reach us faster than ever before in today’s society, making us the easiest prey. 

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center received 351,936 complaints of internet crimes in 2018, resulting in damages above $2.7 billion. According to a 2017 Federal Trade Commission research, everyone who uses an internet-connected device has the potential to become a victim of an internet scam. Today, the pandemic has led to a 600% rise in online scams where scammers have plagued the internet through various methods. In the US, every one in ten adults falls victim to an online scam everywhere, and 1.3 million children become victims of identity theft. Also, in 2019 phishing attempts grew by 65%, whereas 82% of organizations became subjected to payment fraud. Insane! If this seems to have caught your attention and you want to learn more about different types of online scams, online scams history, the reasons behind their rapid increase, and the dangers surrounding them, then continue reading! You can thank us later.

Financial Scam

What Are Online Scams?

You may be wondering what exactly are online scams? These are different methodologies of fraud facilitated by cybercriminals on the internet in the form of phishing emails, social media, fake tech support phone calls, etc. The purpose is just to steal, and it can range from credit card theft to identity theft, from data breach to dating scams, and from denial of service to ransomware. The list is never-ending! Don’t worry; we will discuss many of these in this article.

Who Are Online Scammers & Fraudsters Targeting? 

It literally makes no difference whether the participants are teenagers, adults, or seniors. It has always been possible to be cheated using online sites. However, until recently, most internet users had grown up in a digital world and had to learn about cyber risks later in life. This also meant that they had not been targeted by online fraudsters during their childhood, leading to the idea that most online fraud victims are senior citizens with weak computer capabilities. As a result, a new generation of digital natives is entering their middle years. As a result of their early exposure to the internet, kids are more comfortable utilizing it.

Looking deeper into the statistics, according to a report, individuals in their 20s, the next youngest age group, saw a 59 percent surge between 2019 and 2020, with 70,791 recorded victims losing an average of $2,789 each. The older the victims were, the more money they lost on average. In 2020, people in their 30s lost an average of $5,570, while those in their 40s lost an average of $7,832. The oldest Americans, on average, lost the most money to online fraud. A total of $966 million in losses was reported by over 105,000 people aged 60 and up, an average of more than $9,100 per person. 

By far, the most significant increase in casualties in 2020 was among those under the age of 20, with numbers more than tripling after a rise of 116.21 percent. Likewise, this age group saw a tremendous increase in 2019, albeit at a considerably lower percentage increase of 17.47 percent. This indicates that online scammers are targeting young people, and more work needs to be done to educate young people about online hazards and provide them with the tools they need to protect themselves.

The Rest Is History…

Do you ever wonder how we ended up here? The con hasn’t been around for a long time. Some sources claim it began around 1995, while others claim it began even earlier. Five years later, in the year 2000, phishing appeared in the shape of Love Bug Struck. Phishing has become more prevalent than ever in stealing data twenty years later. Whatever the year, ordinary people like us were not aware of these schemes until nearly ten years later, in the twenty-first century. According to certain reports, merchants tried to claim their cargoes in ancient Greece by sinking their ships. Most previous frauds were one-time occurrences, but they have now become far more than a minor nuisance.

If we talk about Phishing – the most common type of online scam,  today it is recognized as a core part of the black market, and organizations lose about $2 billion every year due to it. For example, in 2020 early March of 2020, just when there was an outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, phishing emails were rampant such as fake CDC warnings, working from home, Netflix scams, and fines for breaking quarantine.

If you talk about email phishing, it took place in the 1970s and became standard in the 1990s. Since then, scammers have found many ways to steal people in the online world, such as through fake email addresses and data breaches. The highest amount lost was $47 million. However, online scamming didn’t end with email phishing and online payments; they included phone scams too, which originated in the 1980s. Along with these website hacks, password theft, spyware, and other similar scams on the internet increased at an alarming rate.

man doing phishing

Online Scams 2022? Yes, Creative, But VERY Dangerous!

Online scam is closely aligned with trends. The ‘newer’ the something, the more likely scams would occur. Perhaps, it is because of the pace of adaptation. Ultimately, as technology advances more, so will online scams. They are a blend of speed, access, awareness, and actions. The world is likely to experience new forms of internet scams, considering that scammers can communicate with one another and victimize for free means. 

We can conclude that the fight against online scams is an ongoing battle and is not something that is being faced by our generation only. For as long as the money came into existence, so did scams. However, the ease with which online scams occur is why they persist even after 25 years. Also, history speaks for itself and shows that although the delivery methods have evolved over the years, the tactics employed by scammers have been consistent. People should have learned to avoid falling into such scams by not opening attachments, clicking links, and surrendering login credentials. Yet, it is still popular and costs millions to victims every day. Why?!

How Are Online Scams Affecting Us Personally 

Money can’t always buy happiness, and it can cost you millions or billions of dollars. Internet fraud is rising, costing victims hundreds of thousands of dollars by using Internet services or software with Internet connectivity to swindle or otherwise take advantage of victims. Thanks to the expanding power of the internet, digitalization, and social media, it has never been easier to discover so many online scam victims at once!

According to a resource, a woman named Amirah was a full-time housewife and mother of two kids. Still, as soon as his husband lost her mother due to covid in early March, she asked him to take a bereavement break and started working as a sales specialist in a firm. At the age of 28, she managed all the house expenses and had a considerable amount of her husband’s savings in her bank account. When his birthday approached, Amirah wanted to buy gifts during the pandemic to make things easier and happier for everyone else at home. However, the odds proved not to be in her favor, and a very well-organized group of scammers led her into a $7500 payment scam. Whatever she ordered was lost. Amirah says that the AD on Facebook came with a compelling story about the company and its customer service. As she scrolled through the advertisement looking at fake happy reviews, she felt her spirits lifting. 

Furthermore, a woman lost her husband during the pandemic, who left a wife and four kids behind. To make living smooth and in an attempt to make her financial condition better, she thought of starting a business for stitching clothes. Thus, she ordered five machines worth $400 each from a blacklisted company but never received them. How devastating?! She lost all to these scammers and had to close her business before it even started. However, what mistake she made was not reporting on time. She gave up and declared her complaint after a year when the company was about to get blacklisted. If she had taken action before, it would have helped track down the scammers, perhaps leading to getting her money back. 

broker on laptop

Unfortunately, there are many unprofessional and unscrupulous scammers in today’s online market. Online scams are rising, and you need to be aware of many types of them! Want to know what these are? Continue reading; it’s next! 

The Many Faces of An Online Scam 

Copycat Government Website Scams 

Nearly one in every five people were reported losing money in a government imposter scam, although overall reported losses were nearly $1.2 billion. Also, the median loss was $850, and almost one-third of the imposter scams involved someone pretending to be from a government agency. Thus, be wary of copycat Government websites if you need to renew your passport, apply for a driver’s license or a fishing license, schedule a driving test, pay a congestion charge, or use the Dartford Crossing. Copycat websites are created to look and offer services similar to those provided by government departments or local governments. Still, they charge a significant premium for the service, often much more than the actual cost or even when the service is provided for free and with no benefit to the customer.

In fact, you may become a victim if you come across a fictitious government official posing as a bank employee. Your phone rings, and it’s the imposter pretending to be someone from a government agency like the social security administration or IRS, calling to tell you that you’ve won a prize that requires you to pay taxes or fees before they can process your claim. They may even pretend to be someone from Medicare. Alternatively, the fraudster may threaten to send you to prison if you do not pay a purportedly unpaid bill. Scammers may use a fictitious federal agency name, such as the National Sweepstakes Bureau, or the names of legitimate federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, to defraud victims (FTC). If you refuse to give them money, they can threaten you that something bad will happen or that you will miss out on a government benefit. Realistically speaking, you will never receive a phone call from a federal agency in which they ask for payment of any type. No matter how you look at it, it’s a scam since this isn’t a tactic that federal agencies use to collect money. 

working from home

How may a copycat government website scam work?

Copycat government websites will often have a plausible or similar address to the actual website and a similar style and ‘brand’ design to the official website. Also, they may claim that the procedure or application is quicker or easier when, in reality, you could probably do it yourself just as quickly and easily and for a fraction of the expense.

Also, government-related scams usually begin with a call, email, or text from someone who claims they are from a government agency. They might give you their employee ID number to sound official, and they might have information about you, like your name or home address which can manipulate you a lot. As mentioned earlier, they often say they work for the Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare. Still, sometimes they give you fake agency names, like the non-existent National Sweepstakes Bureau. This shows how important it is to research the name before you continue listening to them. They will also give you some reason why you need to send money or give them your personal information immediately. 

How to Protect Yourself From Copycat Government Website Scams?

Our advice is not to choose the first website that appears in a search engine, even if the address seems legitimate; instead, spend your time looking for the official website, which will finish in “gov.uk.” If you do decide to purchase an official service from an unofficial website, make sure the payment page is secure by ensuring that the website address begins with “HTTPS://” (the “s” implies secure) and that the address bar at the top of your screen has a secured padlock.

In addition to this, if you get a call like those mentioned above, hang up immediately. No wonder it’s a scammer. Also, remember that a government agency won’t call, email, or text you and ask for money or personal information; only a scammer can have the audacity to do that. You can even get an email or a direct message on social media saying they are from the Social Security Administration and blackmail that your Social Security benefits would end. The social security number could be suspended unless you pay immediately. They might say that you have to pay with a wire transfer, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or by mailing cash. In extreme cases, you could be threatened with being arrested if you refuse to pay. But now, it is not the social security administration calling, and your benefits would not be suspended, nor do you owe anything. It’s just a scammer trying to get your money or your personal and private information in an attempt to steal your identity.

question face men

Holiday Scams

With Christmas parties, family get-togethers, internet shopping, and travel, this is one of the most lucrative times of year for scammers and fraudsters; Holidays! This holiday season, don’t be naive and let your defenses down. Fraudsters will not only try to steal your financial information, but your personal information will also be more accessible and could fall into the wrong hands.

Sale, Sale & Sale

A few scams are unique to the holidays, but the majority are variations of regular scams that have been amplified to coincide with seasonal increases in spending and web traffic. Unsurprisingly, they frequently revolve around purchasing, particularly online. According to retail analytics firm Digital Commerce 360, US shoppers spent $211.4 million on digital holiday shopping in 2021, up 10% from the previous year.

Scammers target bargain-hunting buyers with phony websites and social media campaigns that imitate prominent brands when legitimate businesses roll out their seasonal specials. These “spoofing” sites and phony posts persuade you to pay for things that you will never receive. Non-payment or non-delivery scams cost victims more than $265 million, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) 2020 report. Another $129 million was lost due to credit card theft.

Are You Donating These Holidays?

Apart from this, people usually donate around holidays which the scammers take advantage of. As it might be the holiday season, they pressure you to contribute, and if you don’t, you feel guilty. They may thank you for a donation in the past even if you don’t remember doing it to seem legit. However, please remember that real charities accept donations all year round, and if you don’t remember giving any, you probably have not. In addition to this, scammers may sometimes say they are collecting donations for your local firefighters, veterans, or police. They can emotionally trap you into believing that they are sending care packages to service members. Nevertheless, whatever the situation may be, do not just give; instead, call your local police or fire department and ask them if they are collecting money or not.

A Few More Red Flags For Holiday Scams

  • Huge discounts on popular gift products are available, especially when advertised on social media or websites.
  • There are spelling mistakes or poor language on a purchasing website or in an email.
  • A retail or travel site provides merely an email address or a fill-in contact form instead of a phone number or street address for the business.
  • A site’s privacy policy is missing.
  • An unwanted email offers you access to a discount or schedules a delivery by clicking on a link or downloading an app.

Phishing Scams

As mentioned earlier in the article, in early March of 2020, just when there was an outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic, phishing emails were rampant such as fake CDC warnings, working from home, Netflix scams, and fines for breaking quarantine. Scammers have found many ways to steal people in the online world, such as through fake email addresses and data breaches. In 2019 phishing attempts grew by 65%, although the highest amount lost in Phishing Scams is $47 million! Phishing is the most common of all lottery sweeps, online dating, social media, charity money transfer scams, stranded travelers, and other online scams. It is the type of scam where scammers ask for personal details via emails, such as passwords and bank details, by posing as verified companies and intimate trusted contacts such as the victim’s bank so that the victim provides sensitive information that further could be used to make unauthorized transfers to the scammer’s account. 

How Do Scammers Target People Through Phishing Scams?

A common way to phish friends and family members is to use social media. According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers have turned to Facebook Messenger as a means of contact. They are hacking people’s accounts on Facebook and scamming their family members and friends for money, usually via prepaid gift cards or wire transfers. In 2018, there was a case of a woman who became a victim of a Facebook grant scam and lost $8,000. In this scam, the hacker claimed to be the victim’s wife and told her that she was eligible for a grant of $120,000 but would have to pay an amount of $8,000 in advance through a gift card. After the verification via a channel other than Facebook, she found that her wife knew nothing about this, and the whole story was a scam.

Along with this, scammers call their victims, impersonate their family and friends, and say they are in trouble that requires money to fix. For example, flat tires, legal risk, requesting bail money, or medical emergencies. The victim is then asked to send cash, money orders, or is sent to purchase gift cards and provide the serial numbers to the scammer. This process happens very quickly, not giving the victim time to think through what is happening. Usually, the money is already gone when the victim realizes something is wrong. Even worse, victims are often too embarrassed to tell anyone what has happened. However, this should never be the case, and you should report and take action as soon as possible!

Recently, a madison couple lost $80,000 to a scammer who pretended to be their grandson. Technology allows these scammers to “spoof” their phone calls to their intended victims. You may be wondering what spoofing is? It is when the number that appears on caller ID is not valid. For example, if a scammer knows your phone number, they can make a call to your family member or friend that appears to be coming from your number.

Phishing Scams

How Can You Save Yourself From Phishing Scams?

All of the world, particularly teens, are becoming so addicted to social media that they easily get targeted and are pulled into Phishing scams. Take money transfer scams as an example; scammers here usually target under 25s with no criminal history by offering them a ‘get rich quick’ deal whereby the victim agrees to have money placed in their bank account later following instructions to transfer them in exchange for payment. Nonetheless, even if the victim is unaware of what is going on, they are still committing a crime by allowing their bank account to be used for illegal activities. 

People should be alert at all times. There are many typical features of a phishing scam, such as unprofessional communication. People are encouraged to watch out for grammatical errors in emails and texts from scammers. Along with grammatical mistakes, they come with wrong links, such as links to click on an email/text, which is a phishing link leading to the victim being tricked into providing personal information and bank details. Clicking these links can trigger viruses that can infect the victim’s device.

Romance Scams

A big big thanks to online dating scams, your search for love, but what do you even get? Empty bank balances, that’s it. However, sometimes others who are not even looking for love and are on other social media platforms get scammed, and they say it all starts with an unexpected friend request. Strange! However, it all starts with a fake profile. Scammers put on appealing displays and begin reaching out to the victims by claiming similarities with them, common interests, and a mutual connection. Damn!

How do they work?

Now once they have built a deeper understanding and so-called ‘relationship,’ they start asking for money. Sooner or later, they for sure do. They are actually extra skilled at playing with emotions, and their stories are endless, putting never-ending pressure on the victims. In fact, with the uprising of Covid 19, some people even claimed money for medical emergencies when in reality, they were doing perfectly fine. You think you are helping someone when you are actually just getting yourself stolen. Some of the most common examples of dating scams include fake dating sites that are filled with enormous scammers even if they claim to be legitimate. Another most popular example is photo scams, where the scammer pressures and convinces the victim to send their contact information in exchange for the intimate photos of the scammer. How cheap! 

Scammers, masters of manipulation, can go miles to ruin your lives. They can steal your video footage while video calls and blackmail you for life. In extreme cases, they can go to the extent of kidnapping later using confidential information to access your social media and bank accounts. Imagine, how scary is that!?

love on keyboard

How Much Have People Lost To Romance Scams?

As the real world approached more towards the digital world in the coronavirus pandemic, self-seeker hackers found a chance to conduct fraudulent activities like these. In these difficult times, when the internet tried to be our lifeline in these difficult times, some highly fake people were quick enough to take advantage, perhaps because pandemics limited the ability to meet in person. Nonetheless, issues due to dating scams reached around £80 million, receiving almost 32000 reports. Older people often become victims of this scam, and some don’t even realize it until it’s too late. 

In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission recorded $304 million in losses from online dating scams. This is an increase of around 50% over the previous year. Also, in 2020 alone, due to covid and increased isolation periods, nearly 24000 people became victims. Moreover, in 2021, the average individual loss was over $2400. 

Watch Out For Red Flags

Now, you must be wondering, does this really happen in the real world? So the answer is obviously yes. We live in a cruel world. In an article, a girl mentioned that once, her brother was contacted by a man in Afghanistan, and that person promised to come to see him if he sent him iTunes cards. Her brother did, but that person never came and started making excuses after excuses. Then that person claimed that their brother is illegally in jail, and to get out, they need US $8000 dollars. She writes that her brother sent the money, and ever since then, that person has never contacted her. The point is that the writer’s brother should have noticed the scammer’s signals, such as he claimed he worked overseas and always had reasons for why he needed money and why he couldn’t visit the victim even once. 

How is it possible that someone is so madly in love with you within a few days and that too online? Not in the real world? It’s nowhere closer to any possibility. Therefore, if someone confesses their feelings to you after just a few conversations, move away slowly. Sometimes, the person wants to leave the dating website and talk with you through text messaging. It’s a clear sign to leave them right away. Also, their messages are very poorly written; they depict no interest. Moreover, they do not keep promises. If someone just makes one excuse not to meet you, it shows how disinterested they are. The scammer would overload you with attention and too many texts and calls. Lastly, they would obviously lean towards asking for things. Sometimes it starts with smaller amounts, and then the process is never-ending. 

Your friends or loved ones may also show signs of being involved in a dating scam. They start showing extreme emotions and loyalty towards someone they meet. Never let go of them and follow up. Secondly, they may begin to hide away things and get self-isolated. Aggressiveness becomes a standard part of their everyday nature. Lastly, they would send money to people they had never met. 

Protect money

Pop Up Ads Scams 

Does this ever happen to you? You’re browsing online, perhaps shopping or watching a movie and a pop-up ad appears out of nowhere claiming that your device is infected with many viruses. Beware, it’s a scam! It is not just phone calls, emails, and texts that lead to online scams. Pop Up Ads can be equally dangerous too! While browsing, pop-up warnings saying that your device may be infected with viruses or other similar dire statements should be dealt with appropriately. They contain dire warnings that your computer is infected with hundreds of viruses or that these viruses will immediately cause your computer to crash. It’s asking you to contact a fake tech support number or download a fake antivirus.

Anything that tells you to ring a phone number, click a ‘scan now’ button and pay for a protection plan is a scam. It is fear-mongering to make you click or call instead of being based on a real scan of your device. One of the most common Pop Up Ads is in the form of lottery and sweeps that includes the victim thinking as if they have won a lottery or sweepstake and they have to provide their banking details and pay a fee in advance before they receive the prize. These scammers will often ask to pay for tech support or other services with a gift card or a wire transfer. It might be a red flag because no legit company would ask for payment in such a way. The content of these Ads is what makes them so effective. They come up with unsuspecting website visitors with some kind of fraudulent warning, usually regarding the computer or the websites they visit. Later they either ask the visitor to download a link to fix the issue, such as anti-virus software, or ask them to call a fake phone number for ‘support.’

How Dangerous Are They?

A bank client once googled a company’s name where he came across a phishing link inside a pop-up message instructing him to call a phone number for bank security. He fell into the trap and called the number where a scammer picked up and identified himself as a bank representative. He asked the victim to enter his credentials to access his computer and prevent him from falling into the scam. As soon as he did, the computer screen went black. The victim suffered a huge loss of around $10,000. How sad is that!

Recover Your Lost Funds

Tax Scams

They say three things in life are certain; death, taxes, and tax scams! Scammers are on the hunt for new victims, and calling you to arrest them for not paying taxes is one of the most common ways they use. In 2021, taxpayers lost more than $4 million to scammers, with a median loss being $515 per complaint. However, the actual amount today may be higher. We are likely to become victims of tax scams for many reasons: a lack of awareness, knowledge, and education about taxes. Many of us are unfamiliar with the tax code, which makes us worried that we will perform something wrong. However, stay safe from tax scams this season by following some tips such as scrutinizing letters from scammers, researching taxes and tax preparation, getting an identity protection pin, and trusting your gut which is the most important.

If you are a victim of a cryptocurrency scam and need help in getting your money back then please reach out to us to help you!

Put an End To Online Scams by Reporting Them! 

Online fraud has become a big problem in many nations, with millions of people falling prey to various online schemes. Why are they growing at such a rapid pace? It cites several factors, including fraud diversity, tiny sums of money sought, scammers’ authority and legitimacy, emotional appeals, embarrassing scams, pressure and coercion, grooming, fraud at a distance, and various other approaches.

If you wish to avoid falling victim to internet scams and learn more about the various types of scams that exist today, read the article above carefully and follow the instructions to remain vigilant at all times. For example, watch out for red signs; you never know how well scammers have set up traps for you. In situations like these, no response to emails, phony product images, and pricing that seems too good to be true may be beneficial. As a result, while there is no foolproof approach for preventing internet fraud, there are always ways to mitigate the negative repercussions they produce.

Finally, don’t forget that It’s never too late to file a complaint. Scams are becoming commonplace online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t avoid them or recover from them—find out where you can get help and how to avoid scams. Visit reputable rehab websites and inform your family and friends to keep them safe! Good Luck.

Lost money to online fraud? We will recover your funds !

    We only process cases of more than $5000

    We do understand that you’ve already been scammed online and that you’re naturally afraid of paying online. This is why we do offer a free case review, and won’t charge anything if your case isn’t qualified. Please do your part of the deal, and submit your case only if you truly intend to proceed with the recovery process.

    Get a free consultation!