What do you get when you mix Microsoft, New Yorkers, and a fake bank? Viral video gold and a lesson learned in the process.
Microsoft recently launched a new television campaign to warn people of the dangers of handing over personal information on the internet. The video, which shows real New York residents getting duped into handing over personal details to a fake bank, highlights how easy it is for even the most security-conscious of us to fall prey to scams online when money is being used as a bribe.
Watch it for yourself!
One of the most prolific email scams on the internet has been duping people for over a decade. The so-called Nigerian Scam (named due to it’s origins) is based around an email asking for a small investment in return for a share of a multi-million dollar return.
The scam preys on those who believe in easy money, and often describes an embarrassing or secretive situation in which a large sum of money needs a US bank account in order to clear it out of the country. The wording of the emails is often used to trick the victim into thinking they know more than the author is letting on, suggesting that the transaction is legal when in fact it is obviously quite the contrary.
People who fall for the first stage of the email are often duped further by personal email contact from the scammer, making the victim feel more and more like they have found the one genuine money-making scheme on the internet. The scammer will continue to extort money out of the victim often until they threaten legal action, and then disappear into anonymity, often never to be identified. This also means the money is never recovered for the victim.
Whilst this is not the only scam on the internet, it is one of the main types, and most others stick to a similar format. Due to the outbreak in scam emails and phishing, many websites have popped up to inform the public on what is to be believed, and what is a scam. Snopes.com is often regarded as the authority on scam emails, and has a comprehensive database of both examples, explanations and advice on every scam email that has been reported.
If a member of the public believes they are a target of an internet scam, there are options available to them. Normally, an internet search on the topic will show various other people who will have received that email or know whether it is a scam or not. Putting parts of the body of text into quotation marks in the search will force up results featuring that exact email. A tell-tale sign of scam emails is often found in the language used. The Nigerian scam featured many grammatical errors and inconsistencies, such as a return email address which, when researched, is based in the UK when the sender claims to be from another country.
If a person is tempted to act on an email received from an unknown sender, it is always wise to seek legal advice first. Anything which seems or is clearly illegal should never be complied with, and many email providers have procedures in place in which you can flag an email as a phishing email, sending a copy to the relevant authorities for closer review and, if needed, inclusion on a website such as Snopes.com.
Have you ever received a scam email? Ever fallen victim to a phishing attack? Have tips to share? Let us know in the comment section below.
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