9 Most Dangerous Online Scams

The advent of the internet has come with it its fair share of merits and demerits. As much as we would want to believe that the internet is a safe haven that we can trust, it is only fair that we do a reality check. The truth of the matter is that the internet is full of scams where malicious actors are always looking for an easy target to prey on.

With the advance in technology, criminal minds are also getting wittier by the day. They are hungry for our personal data and there is little we can do about it. Ranging from traditional attack tactics like deceit to use of malicious software and apps, the following are 9 tops scams that online users still fall for in 2019.

1. Lottery scam

This is a classic online scam that has been running for ages. It takes advantage of the popularity of lottery companies that promise huge money or prizes to lucky winners, most of whom are usually picked randomly. This lottery scam usually comes in the form of an email that informs you of your apparent winning. It assures that you have won a huge sum of money but you can only claim it after paying some small ‘facilitation’ fee.

As ambiguous as this may seem, many still fall for the trap. This is especially so considering how they sweet-talk you into the deal with promises of your wildest fantasies like living a lavish life and the possibility of quitting your job for good and using the fortune for the rest of your life. However, as expected, this soon turns out to be a nightmare as you realize you are just of the many scam victims.

2. Credit card or bank loan scam

This scam comes in the form of bank offers that seem ‘too good to be true’. This may be a guarantee of large sums of money from the bank that has already been pre-approved. With such promises, a victim can easily be dubbed into providing their personal credit card information. These scammers will then use this information to empty your bank accounts.

In such instances, it may be prudent to think twice and ask yourself how possible it can be for a bank to pre-approve such huge amounts of money without seeking your opinion nor analyzing and checking your financial standing. Nevertheless, most people have fallen for this scam by paying the ‘processing fees’ only to realize it was all hot air.

3. Phishing email scams

This is one of the most widespread forms of online scams. In fact, research shows that up to one-third of all online scams happen through phishing emails. This type of scam has weathered the test of time as it evolves every time their tricks are uncovered.

In most cases, these phishing scams target personal sensitive data by tricking their targets. They may do this by mimicking emails of notable brands. Through this, they will make use of social engineering tricks to convince you into clicking a malicious link. This may lead you to a fake login page that will resemble the real website of a trusted organization. By logging in, you will be offering them your sensitive credentials that can then be sued to ‘wipe clean’ your real account.

4. Hitman Scam

This is an online scam where cybercriminals send threatening messages to their targets. These threats are geared towards bullying you into giving them money. The threats may come in various forms. The most common one involves the threats to harm or kill one of your family members or yourself if you do not heed to their demands.

To make their threat look real, these criminal minds may send you personal details about your life. In essence, they may have collected these from your social media account or personal blog. This is why it is not always advisable to lay bare most of your personal information online as these cybercriminals are always on the lookout for prospective targets.  In case these criminals target you with such claims, do not panic. Take your time to review their message and you will realize most of the details they are giving you are already in the public domain.

5. Online Dating Scams

The advent of the internet has seen the world turn into a global village where interactions are made at the click of a button. It is, therefore, no surprise that the search for love and dating partners also happens online. With online dating apps taking root by the day, criminal minds are also taking advantage of the situation.

The online dating scams happen in form of a message sent either through social media platforms, dating app or email. At first, it may seem like an innocent request for a dating partner. However, with more interaction, this communication will camouflage into details about personal lives.  Once you get hooked, the criminal will take advantage of your vulnerability to ask for monetary incentives or use your personal details like credit cards, banks account numbers or Passwords to access your financial accounts.

6. Get rich quick schemes

Cybercriminals have always capitalized on in-born human greed. They will lure you into believing you can become rich overnight by doing so little. These may come in form of non-existent jobs or business opportunities complete with plans and strategies on how you can achieve this.

Since they target the emotional side of their targets, it is easier for them to dupe unsuspecting victims. They will use various job sites and social media to spread their agenda. Finally, they will lure you into their trap and harvest personal information or simply trick you into sending them money. Instead, use a reputable educational website that teaches you how to grow your wealth..

7. Bitcoin Scams

The advent of cryptocurrency has seen many people reap big from their investments. However, let this not blind you into investing without taking due caution. Sometimes, these digital wallets may be prone to hacking as cybercriminals take advantage of the technology to steal sensitive information.

As much as Bitcoin investments are real and legit, scammers are using various other means to circumvent the system and achieve their malicious goals. These may come in form of:

  • Ponzi schemes
  • Fake Bitcoin exchanges
  • Malware
  • Investment promises

8. Travel Scams

Who doesn’t like traveling? Well, living at an age where everyone is living for the best deals on travel online, scammers also seem to be reaping big in the same. This is especially common in the just before the short winter vacations or in the summer months.

This scam usually comes in form of an email that promises to offer an exceptional deal to an exotic travel destination. This deal is usually tagged with a short expiration period and will urge you to take action fast.

In most cases, these so-called travel companies will hide other necessary costs and will only reveal to you the hidden amounts after paying the initial payments. Usually, they will be targeting to make you give up on the deal but they will never refund your cash. On the other hand, others will simply go missing after sending them your money.

To avoid falling victim, it is always advisable that you go for well known and reputable travel firms. You can also opt to pay for your tickets and accommodation at the destinations individually.

9. Fake antivirus software

If you are a frequent user of a computer and the internet, you may have come across a message warning you of a virus attack on your machine. Most of these warnings will be followed by a suggestion that you download specific antivirus software to help clear the malware. In most cases these are cybercriminals will be targeting your personal information.

Usually, these pop-ups will be structures to look legit and you may fall prey if you are not cautious enough. By clicking on them, your device may become infected by dangerous malware like a keylogger or a Trojan.

To avoid such situation, it is always recommended that you scan your system regularly with reputable antivirus software like Kaspersky, Norton, Bitdefender and a few more others.

Well as much as you may stay alert and authorities working round the clock to curb this menace, the fact remains online scams are here to stay. They keep mutating each time and you may not realize until you become a victim. It is, however, interesting to note that all online scams basically use the same strategy. They take advantage of two main human weaknesses; greed and fear.

On greed, these criminal minds entice you with offers that just seem too good to be true. It may be in monetary terms or a claim to help cure a terminal disease, weight loss, sexual function and much more. Others will take the route of instilling fear through warning messages to create panic and thus push you into submission.

As an online user, it is always important to stay alert. Learn to discern the fakes from real deals. Always have it in mind that not everything that you read or watch on the internet is true. By taking sue caution you will avoid falling prey to the cybercriminals.

Written by Adrian Dimakis

Adrian Dimakis loves writing about everything tech, gadgets, travel and leisure as a full time editor at LearningRegistry. Adrian graduated from UCLA with a degree in journalism and marketing, and his work has appeared in publications including USAToday and The Boston Globe. When he's not testing gadgets and accessories, checking different online services, you can find him planning his next trip on a big paper world atlas with lots of pins. Adrian is also an avid consumer with an oddly deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products.

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