The number of victims of online money scams is increasing every day despite warnings and tips to prevent people from falling victim to those scams. According to Scamwatch.au, 12,136 online scams were reported for the month of January 2020 alone, with over $7M dollars lost to these scams. Online scams have therefore become so common that almost everyone has become a victim of online scams, or knows someone who has.
The increasing prevalence of online scams makes it important for us to look at ways to identify and avoid falling for online scams in every form they may come in.
Online banking and wired transfer have become new things for trading, banking, and business today. But while these forms of mobile banking totally revolutionized how we transact in the new age, it also made it easier to fall for online scams that involve your money. Instead of having to go through the rigorous process of sending money to the bank, you can easily lose thousands of dollars with just a few clicks within a few seconds to minutes.
While certain individuals may pretend to be genuine to eat your money, it is extremely important that we learn ways to identify scammers and avoid falling for them.
Types of Scams and Why People Fall For Them
Online money scams can be grouped into the following categories:
- Fake investment scams.
- Dating and romance scams.
- Fake online shopping scams.
- Identity theft.
- Inheritance scams.
- Threats to life, arrests, and related scams, etc.
Most of these types of money scams feed on your vulnerability to make you take actions that will result in financial losses on your part. Fake investment scams offer you a fake investment opportunity, and if you think you are making a good deal, you end up running away with your money untraced.
Dating and romance scams involve individuals who lure you into thinking they are interested in a romantic relationship with you. When you have fallen in love with them, they will exploit that to manipulate you into wiring money to them.
The other types like phishing or fake online shopping, identity theft, inheritance scams, etc, also play on your ignorance, carelessness, and vulnerability.
If you have ever fallen victim to an online money scam, you can better understand greed is one primary reason why people fall victim. Almost a hundred percent of the time, what looks too good to be true is probably too good to be true, especially when you do not have a physical relationship with the other person. Understanding this can save you from falling victim to the myriad of online money scams out there.
How to Identify Online Money Scams
There are cardinal signs that give online money scams away. If you carefully observe these signs, you might never go wrong ever again. While scammers are constantly developing ways to stay undetected, there are some seemingly unchanging signs to identify online money scams as follows:
1. Online scammers often push you to act too quickly
Are you having a conversation with someone who seems to be mounting pressure on you to send them money quickly? Most of the time, they show you fake testimonials of people who have received money from them in a bid to lure you to send them money too. Once you perceive impatience in someone’s tone, especially when it has to do with you sending them some money, that’s a sign that they have hidden motives.
2. They tell you there are no risks involved
Most financial regrets of a lot of people are related to offers that promise zero risks. Every business has its own risks, you should always bear this in mind.
Anyone who tells you that you don’t need to do anything to earn money, or tells you there are no risks involved, is either lying to you or trying to scam you. Every business is a risk, you should be aware of the details, the risks, and benefits, and decide whether to take the risks or not. Any offer that does not show the risks involved is probably too good to be true.
3. You don’t see a real business behind what they do
Money-making is not a process of picking money from under a money tree or plucking it as leaves from the stem of a tree. There is always a business before the money is made legitimately. Many individuals who promise to do all the work for you, or who cannot fully explain the real business behind what they are introducing you to, are either in for your money or want to deceive you.
4. It looks too easy
Success does not occur without effort. Scammers that tell you that there is nothing required from you are only doing so to make you highly interested in investing your money into it. And once you have done so, that might be the end you will hear from them, or if they will reach you again, it is to continue to exploit you.
5. The emails or messages obviously not looking good
Emails or messages from scammers are oftentimes easy to spot. While genuine business agencies will carefully double-check their spelling and proofread the company’s written statements before disseminating them to the general public. Scammers will not be willing to carry out this step of analyzing emails before sending them out.
6. Scam-detecting apps
The same technology that made it easier to perpetrate scams is still the same thing that makes it easier to identify scams. Applications like Truecaller, and others can help to identify phone numbers associated with fraudulent transactions and warn you beforehand. Truecaller, for example, labels a potential scam number as red and indicates clearly that the phone number has been linked to a scam before.
How to Avoid Falling for Online Money Scams
If you have already lost your money to a scammer, it is almost impossible to get it back, especially if you did an instant wire transfer. It is therefore important to be more careful so as not to become a victim next time. We have seen some signs to know a potential scam. Now, let us see some smart ways to avoid falling for online money scams.
1. Tell the person to wait
As small as asking someone to wait, it can help you know if someone is a scammer and help you avoid falling for their scams. When you tell an unknown person asking for money to wait, here is how you can know if they are trying to scam you or not.
A genuine person would calmly explain why they need the money so urgently and thereafter patiently wait for you. A money scammer would burst into persuasions and sweet-talking, and would sometime angrily tell you not to waste their time. In this case, block any connection with the scammer and go about your normal activities.
2. Do not send money to anyone you have not met
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that you don’t send money to someone you have not met, especially when you are not involved in any real business deal with them. Before you wire money either for help or investment, think twice about it and calculate your risk to ensure that it is something you are willing to let go of.
Some people take the extra mile by adopting the policy of never sending money to someone through a wired transfer. They would rather give raw cash instead. This might not favour everyone close to you but it would reduce your chances of falling for online money scams by a lot.
3. Opt-in for cash transactions on a one-on-one basis
I already touched on this in the previous point above. Opting for cash transactions affords you the opportunity to meet the recipient in person and verify their genuineness. If it is possible to meet, that is, if the person claims to be around your vicinity, ask to meet them in a public place before carrying out the transaction. Classically, scammers would never agree to meet you in person. They would prefer you quickly wire them the money without hesitation.
Sometimes, online money scammers might try to evade you by agreeing to meet so that you can think they are genuine. Fortunately, just before it’s time to meet, they might call off the appointment for seemingly emergency reasons. Either way, never meet someone you have not met before in an isolated place.
4. Ask about the risks of the business
Whenever anyone assures you that there are no risks, that is a red flag for a potential scam. Every business has risks as mentioned above. Risks are not stuff to hide from someone who is interested in dealing with you because you want them to be aware of the risks and be prepared to face them. Any business offer that hides the risks or denies them is either not genuine or is a big scam. Run!
5. Never give out your personal information online
Some online money scammers have devised ways to get personal information from victims. They can create phishing sites that mimic real sites to get private information from users. For example, a phishing site can be made to resemble a Facebook login page, and when you log in, they are able to use your login details to hack and extract information from your profile.
Beware of giving out personal information to anyone online, be it friends or family. This is because a scammer can gain access to your friend or family member’s account and make requests appear to be coming from them. Never log in to websites you are not sure of. And of note is the fact that no genuine corporate organization with whom you are registered will call to ask for your personal information or passwords. They already have access to them when you supplied them to them.
6. Do not respond to suspicious emails
Email scams are more common these days. Thankfully, they are sometimes caught by anti-spam bots in the spam folders. These types of scams involve unbelievable money offers, romance, sex, and so on. When you see such suspicious emails, don’t waste your time responding to them. Delete them permanently and block the sender’s address.
Email scammers get emails through your submissions in a public directory, or purchasing email lists by someone else who scrapes emails from the web. One way they verify if your email is active is by placing trackers into their email such that when you open them or reply to them, they are able to know that your account is from an active person, and would keep sending you the emails or give your email to other scammers.
7. Keep questioning them
This particularly works when the scammer is conversing with you on the phone or chatting on social media. When they ask you to send them money, keep asking them questions until they run out of patience. Scammers are usually less patient than genuine individuals or groups, and when you keep questioning them, they would call the deal off by themselves. By doing so, you avoid wasting your hard-earned money on a scam.
8. Never repeat the mistake
Most of us have fallen for a money scam before, but there are some strange experiences some of us might find hard to believe. An individual falls for a scammer and immediately realizes that the money is gone but the scammer still finds a way to continue milking the victim. The scammer asks the victim to resend another money to increase their chances of getting bigger gains, or claim that they did not receive the first money sent when, in fact, their account has been debited.
Quite surprisingly, an unbelievable number of people have fallen for a repeat scam with the same scammer before. By doing so, they lost more money than they lost in the first place.
Once you realize that you have made a mistake to fall for a scam, never repeat it. Not just for that particular scammer but also for other similar occurrences that may occur later. This reminder is important because when we say “once bitten, twice shy”, this does not apply to everyone. You should not let greed take its full toll on you, to make you fall for a scam incessantly.
Online money scams have become very common these days, as financial technology improved. To avoid falling victim to online money scams, you need to equip yourself with the right information about identifying online money scams and adopt ways to dissuade scammers from robbing you of your money. I hope this helps.
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