ONLINE SAFETY - Like in previous years, scammers in 2024 will likely put twists on time-tested scams to exploit new technology and prey on people's emotions around upcoming events. Their goal remains the same - to deceive and scare people in order to obtain personal information or money. Keeping up with these latest developments will hopefully give you an edge, enabling you to stay ahead.
#1 Cooking scam
Thieves engaged in checkwashing stole paper checks from postal boxes, mailboxes, or even carriers and washed them using chemicals. This process involved erasing the amount and payee while keeping the original signature intact, allowing them to fill in new details. However, a less messy method, known as check cooking, has emerged. In this technique, thieves capture a digital image of a stolen check and use readily available software to alter it.
The altered checks appear highly authentic, complete with watermarks and other security features. Criminals can then either print a fraudulent check or deposit the modified image using a bank's mobile application.
#2 Betting and casino
A lot of scammers create fake sites for playing poker, betting on sports or e-sports, as well as casinos. This is a common online scam, but it only becomes clear after you deposit money.
To stay safe online, it is worth checking the reputation of websites that provide any financial services. It is also wise to use a VPN for your browser or device to protect your data privacy. You should not go to online poker until you have a reliable VPN. It could be VeePN or some other premium VPN. Even official websites can collect information about you and sell it. A VPN prevents the disclosure of personal data by encrypting and anonymizing your traffic.
#3 Online job scams
There is a noticeable rise in job seekers during the early months of the year, particularly in January and February. This coincides with a surge in job scams that specifically target individuals seeking flexible or additional income opportunities. These scams exploit the desire for easy and lucrative offers, often requiring minimal qualifications or experience. They bypass conventional recruitment processes like interviews.
Let's take the example of a recent graduate searching for part-time work. She stumbled upon an online job posting for a data entry position that guaranteed attractive pay for minimal effort. This job required no prior experience, and the application process was unusually quick, without any interviews. Excited about the opportunity, she applied and was immediately "hired." Unfortunately, the job turned out to be a deception. After providing her personal details, including her resume and Social Security number, the company vanished, and the graduate discovered that her information had been used for identity theft.
#4 Voiceprint scams
Technological advancements have given rise to the alarming possibility of criminals recording and replicating your voice through software, creating deceptive "deepfake" versions that can be exploited for impersonation. According to Bruemmer, this voiceprint may be exploited to gain unauthorized access to your insurance, or financial institution, or even apply for a driver's license. A recent incident reported by The New York Times illustrates such an occurrence: a representative at a prominent bank received a call from a deepfake imitating the voice of a Florida investor, urging the bank to transfer the individual's funds elsewhere. Fortunately, the bank detected the fraudulent attempt in time, preventing the investor from losing his hard-earned savings.
#5 Charity scams
When faced with global crises such as natural disasters or humanitarian emergencies, a strong urge to lend a helping hand arises. Unfortunately, scammers exploit this compassion for their own gain, skillfully disguising their deceptive schemes as charitable efforts.
To safeguard yourself from falling victim to global crisis scams, it is crucial to take certain precautions. Always verify the legitimacy of a charity before donating. Utilize independent resources like Charity Navigator or GiveWell for verification purposes. Additionally, it is highly advised to refrain from donating cash or using unverified online platforms for donations.
Furthermore, it is important to be cautious of donation portals that redirect you to personal accounts instead of official business accounts associated with the charity. Under such circumstances, it is strongly recommended not to transfer any money.
#6 Package delivery scams
During the holiday season, package delivery scams tend to increase, but their threat continues into the new year as they take advantage of the ongoing excitement and anticipation surrounding online shopping. These scams are not limited to festive times; they persist as a prevalent issue, exploiting consumers' trust in online retailers and delivery services. A recent incident involving UPS, a delivery company, highlights the operations and impact of these scams.
#7 Cryptocurrency scams
The frenzy surrounding cryptocurrencies may have subsided, but scammers continue to thrive. They employ various tactics, such as fake prizes, contests, giveaways, and early investment opportunities, to deceive innocent individuals.
To trap victims, scammers impersonate celebrities or popular cryptocurrency websites. They persuade people to send them money, disclose login credentials, or make pseudo "investments." These scammers even resort to OTP bot attacks on crypto exchange accounts, preventing victims from reclaiming their assets while the fraudsters drain their funds.
If you see something or someone who offers you too incredible offers, there is a high probability that you are faced with a scam. The same is true if you receive suspicious alerts from banks or online services that you did not order. To begin with, you should simply double-check the information in official sources. These protective measures are sufficient to significantly reduce risks. Analyze the above, find weaknesses in the scammers’ legends and you will be able to prevent any attacks on you.