There are a seemingly endless number of grifters online. I’m sure many of you will have received emails from those offering to send you millions based on some sob story about how they can’t get money out of their country, but if you could just help them by sending your bank account details they will generously repay you. What they will do is take your money and it is surprising sometimes the number of people who get caught by this kind of scam.
The iCloud scam
I’ve just come across another one; telling people their iCloud accounts have been hacked and they need to pay $400 for their IT experts to repair it. This kind of scam is often operated by phone bu fake MLM operator. You receive a call from an untraceable number and the person asks for remote access to your computer to fix the hack. Unfortunately for the scammer, one of these calls was to an IT expert and this guy decided to confront them. He asked if it was a scam and the response was: “We are anonymous. We are legion. Expect us.” Clearly, this is somebody with an over-inflated opinion of himself and his capabilities. But it is also a clear indication of the kind of culture that is now a major part of the Internet, and one that the unaware can easily fall prey to.
Lost and found scam
Sometimes these scams seem very innocent, like the adverts for things that get lost in cabs. John left his camera in a New York cab and contacted a NYC taxi website so he could put it on a lost and found database. John did what most people would do; he Googled ‘lost and found, New York cabs’ and then clicked on the first result that came up and filled out the form, which included giving his phone number. He was then directed to a new page where he was told he had to pay $47 to file the report. This was a shock, but like many people, John wanted his camera back and he paid it without thinking. Immediately he was redirected to the home page where he spotted a disclaimer in tiny print stating that the company wouldn’t actually do any searching for the missing object, they would merely make its loss more visible to the public and yellow cab drivers. Now John saw the red flag. But, in addition to the scam taking users’ money, it also now had access to their phone numbers, which expanded the scammers’ potential for running other frauds and they could also sell these numbers to other scammers. It’s an old-fashioned huckster trick that uses Google’s advert algorithms to the scammer’s advantage.
Young people more likely to be scammed
These MLM Internet-based scams are coming at us thick and fast and I’d like to add one more point here; there’s a widely accepted idea that it is only older people who get caught out online by these fraudsters, based on the idea that they aren’t tech-savvy. Actually, a Microsoft report on scams done in 2016 showed that it is younger people in the 25-34 age bracket, and who have grown up with technology, who are more likely to be the victims of MLM Internet scams. Vigilance and common sense are what is required; think next time you get a call from anyone saying you have been hacked or a company asks you to pay for a service that should be free, as in the case of the New York cabs. If Hans had asked a cop or stopped another taxi driver, he would have found the right place to report his loss, safely and at no cost. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and when we rely on Google to give us all the answers, sometimes we end up being given a scam.