6 Most Common Types of Scams in Cybersecurity

There are many types of scams on the internet, and most of them use pretexting as the most common tactic, no matter the method chosen. So, to start recognizing the scams you need to get better at noticing pretexts.

Phishing emails are the most common way people get into scams. Other methods include ads, malicious advertisements, pop ups, redirects, etc.

In this article we’ll introduce the 6 different types of online scams.


Fake Antivirus Downloads

Nowadays, our personal information is critically unsafe with all the phishing, malware, and trojans. This is why most of us run antivirus software on our devices; it’s our first defense against internet fraud.

But much like everything, there are fake antivirus applications out there.

There are two types of fake antivirus software; legitimate antivirus software that has been modified or a fake one built from scratch by an unknown company.

The most common way to install a fake antivirus software is by a social engineering scam that manipulates people through an alarming pop-up window, claiming that their computer has been infected. This pressure leads them to take immediate action.

All of the issues that have fake antivirus software installed on your device can cause;

  • Slowdowns
  • Rogue processes
  • Lockups
  • Junk pop-up ads
  • Strange toolbar additions to your browser

Follow these primary tips to protect your computer from fake antivirus software;

  • Install the security tool only from a legit company
  • Don’t trust pop-up ads or banners telling your system is infected


Social Media Scams

In the 21st century, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social media platforms are tools to interact with the people we care about, with our coworkers, and strangers.

Scammers reach their targets via social media platforms, and it’s been truly more beneficial than any other method. Businesses and individuals have lost billions of dollars throughout the years due to these scams.

Let’s see the most common examples of these scams;

  • Gossip Scam: You might see an ad representing sensational news about a famous person. A click on the link redirects you to a malicious page with a Trojan or a virus instead.
  • Catfishing or honeypotting: These scams are all about creating an online identity and starting a relationship with a twist–tricking people to give up money or information. 
  • See who viewed your profile: This scam is always trendy, as people want to see who took an interest in them. The system charms a person to click on a link, leading them to a fake login page to a survey that collects personal data used against them or sold.

Scams done via social media are many more. All you have to do to stay safe online is to;

  • Know what you’re clicking
  • Be certain who you’re trusting with your personal information
  • Limit your posts and information 
  • Check out the company before buying anything

Greeting Card Scams

One of the most common types of email scams are the greeting card scams. Have you received a greeting card from a famous person or a long-lost friend? Be careful. 

The refined graphics, animation, and music make the greeting cards fun. Still, any digital greeting might contain a link, and the latter can potentially lead into the claws of phishing scammers, download viruses, and prompt a malware installation.

Stay on the lookout for such scams especially around popular holidays like Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, Christmas, or New Year.

How to Detect These Scams?

  • Check the sender
  • Confirm who the card is addressed to
  • Don’t fall for a legitimate card company logo
  • Don’t download the “.exe” file of the card


Nigerian Prince Scams

The Nigerian prince scam, also known as the 419 fraud, is an advance-fee scam that arose after the French Revolution. From the beginning of the late 1790s, people sent handwritten letters requesting help for a nobleman imprisoned who didn’t even exist.

With the rise of the internet, the same fraud moved into the digital worldand has been tricking people with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive a fortune. You only need to to help the “royalty in need” by transferring a small cash advance or give your bank account number.

A variation of this scam is the one where the bad actor is after your personal information– passwords, logins, and banking details. Thus, this crime lays a good groundwork for impersonation attacks and identity theft.

How to Identify a Scammer?

  • Is the email from a “business official,” “foreign celebrity,” or “leader”?
  • Does the letter ask you for a massive fortune in exchange for helping get the money out of their home country?
  • Does the email ask you to provide personal, financial, or any other information?
  • Does the email ask you to send money via wire transfer, international fund transfer, cash-reload card, or cryptocurrency.

Honey Trap Scams

Another form of online fraud is the honeytrap scam. We’ve already mentioned this scam in the Social Media scams section. Still, the predators don’t limit the places where they can find their victims.

Whether it’s via email or a messaging app, the scammer aims to steal your money or sensitive information by gaining your trust/making you fall in love with them.

The bad actor won’t use their real name and pictures. Instead they tend to disguise themselves with trustworthy appearance or someone with cosmic beauty.

When the victim is in the trap of a scammer, in love, or trusts them, they make up stories to receive money from them. The stories vary, from airplane ticket money to meet the victim to a sick relative who needs urgent help.

How to Identify a Scammer?

  • Be careful with unknown dating sites
  • Don’t open emails/messages from strangers
  • Don’t trust generous suggestions
  • Use an antivirus program
  • Never wire money to someone you haven’t met before

Fake Shopping Websites

Fake shopping website fraud can appear in different forms:

  • The phony website offers the customer to buy a particular product at a specific price so that they can win a free, expensive gift. After the purchase, they get a call from the “customer service” that explains they need to pay a refundable amount for maintenance, handling, etc. And, of course, the online buyers never get the gift or the refund.
  • The fraudsters create a lookalike websites of some famous brands and offer inexpensive products. After the customer pays online, they never get the ordered product.
  • In another case, the victims, again, pay online and don’t get the ordered product. However, these shops only exist virtually (there’s no product at all).
  • Another scenario of these frauds is when the customer buys online and gets used or fake product.

Ensure Safety While Shopping Online

  • It is rare to recover money sent via money order, wire transfer, or electronic currency, like Bitcoin. So be careful who you are transferring money to or your online account details.
  • Don’t fall prey to huge discounts. If the offer is too good to be true, you should probably skip it.
  • Don’t pay using credit or debit cards unless the payment link takes you to a secure payment gateway. A fraudulent shopping site may sell your credentials on the dark web. 
  • Read reviews. If many customers complain about products not being delivered, then the site is probably fake.


Final Thoughts

As you can see, scammers can target you in various ways. Anything goes–from pretending to be in love to just getting you to download a fake antivirus. 

If you’ve been scammed, contact people you know, your financial institution, report scams to the authorities, whistleblow on Facebook, change your online passwords, and contact a counselling or support service.

Remember, being careful before you fall prey to scams is easier. In the end, the chances of recovering your losses after the fact are nearly zero.

Follow cyberhygiene best practices, be alert, and stay safe!

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