Scams in Winter 2021

TECHNOLOGY Nov 15 2021 / 6 min read

Scamming has been prevalent at all times and ages. But now it's seen to be rising in the recent period. For example, during the pandemic, scams have been on the rise. They usually call individuals to get their personal information, such as credit card or debit card pins, bank details, and other confidential details.

People in the present age are fond of online banking and investing. But, unfortunately, these types of scams can be a hurdle in these activities.

In 2020, the FBI internet crime complaint center received over 80,000 complaints of scams that resulted in a total loss of $4.2 billion. So, what were these scams? First, we'll go over some of the most common ones.

Synthetic Identity Fraud

Synthetic fraud is a type of identity theft where the scammer imitates another person or creates fake credentials. For example, the scammer creates a fake identity, uses a false name, incorrect address, and phoney information, and even the social security number (SSN) can be fake.

This type of scam is done with the intent to steal money but is a lot of work to be used just for a few purchases. Some other reasons to make this scam can be:

  • To escape and stay underground if engaging in criminal activities.
  • Fake credit cards used to fund luxurious lifestyles illegally are also done by using synthetic fraud identity.

This type of identity theft is used to steal a more significant amount of funds, escape detection of illegal funding or smuggling, and facilitate drug and human trafficking.

In this fraud, Nabity, a financial planner, says half of the information is stolen while the other half is usually fictional. For example, the name or address can be fictitious, but the SSN can be stolen.

A report by the Federal Reserve shows that synthetic Identity is the fastest-growing scam in the U.S. Personal information of individuals is usually sold on the black market or, as they call it, the "dark web."

Phishing Scams

Phishing Scams include scammers who fake call or send fake emails to individuals to obtain confidential information. The usual information that they try to steal contains passwords and account numbers.

In most cases:

  1. An email is sent claiming an issue, such as the password being compromised, and the person needs to click the link to resolve it.
  2. The person opens the link, resulting in a virus being downloaded onto the computer.
  3. The scammer uses the virus to obtain confidential information from the computer.

In most cases, well-known brands are used to make the email look more legit. For example, in the U.K., fake mass emails were sent to people claiming that they had to open a link to receive their package from Royal Mail.

Royal Mail is one of the most extensive postal services in the U.K. – many companies use it to deliver packages. So it wasn't unreasonable to think, during the height of the pandemic when deliveries were skyrocketing, that you ordered something that required action.

Worthless Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is gaining more attention with time. In 2021, more people have started showing interest in it and invested as well.

Along with the increasing fame of cryptocurrency, scams have also seen to be rising. Influencers are pushing worthless cryptocurrencies for their audience, which is considered a worrisome scam in 2021. In the U.S. alone, crimes involving Cryptocurrencies have risen to 82,315.

According to the crypto head, some typical cryptocurrency frauds include:  

  • Crypto theft: In this scam, people hack into crypto user accounts and steal the bitcoins that are present in the account  
  • Crypto Pump and Dump scheme: These scams are seen to be rising with the rising cryptocurrency usage. Schemes are designed to take advantage of innocent people by involving influencers. These influencers are paid incentives to lie to their followers and lure them into buying a specific type of digital coin. This way, companies earn money; meanwhile, buyers get no profit.  
  • Initial Coin Offering Scam: In this case, scammers use investors and make them invest in a wholly fabricated cryptocurrency. 

Celebrity Imposter Scams  

People follow celebrities in everything, even in making investments. They are ready to invest all their savings in a scheme involving their favourite celebrity because it seems credible that way.

In this scam, people get notes via social media, email, or text messages about winning a prize from a supposed celebrity. Then after that, they ask the individual to make a small amount of deposit. Then, they promise to send the giveaway afterwards. However, people send deposits and never receive those giveaways.

Not only that, but scammers also use these types of scams to get that person's private information. This information can be further utilized illegitimately by scammers.

Many real celebrities have been impersonated for such types of fraud.  

P2P Payment Scams

The advancement in technology has increased the trend of online payments and transactions. As a result, many different applications like PayPal, Venmo, and CashApp, etc., have been introduced for such purposes.

The P2P (peer-to-peer payment) method is a striking feature of these applications. Unfortunately, the increase in usage of this has led to a range of frauds.

The most common form of fraud seen in this case is the accidental transfer of funds scam. The scammer sends hundreds and thousands of funds to someone's account from some stolen debit card. They then claim that their money has been accidentally sent, so you should tell them your account details. In many cases, scammers sell online products and stop responding after getting your money through the P2P method. Fraudsters also try to ask for the individual's pin code to hack their debit/credit card.  

How to recognize a scam 

There are several ways to recognize scam calls:  

  • Scammers use threatening language or ways to get personal information like bank details etc. Or even ask for e-payments. Beware, this is usually a scam.  
  • In many cases, there's caller I.D. spoofing, i.e., the use of software to change or hide their name or number.  
  • Remember that government, police, CRA, or banks never call their customers or the public to ask for personal information like insurance numbers, bank accounts, credit card details, passport numbers, etc.  

How can you report a scam?  

Whenever you are receiving such scam calls or emails, make sure you report them to take action against such individuals. The ways to write are:  

  • Call the Canadian anti-fraud centre online or at 1-888-495-8501 
  • You can also make a report at your nearby or local police station.
  • If you have already made payments and become a victim of fraud, contact your financial institution or bank to place reports about the card or payment.  

Neha Ishfaq

eFone Content Team
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