For as long as there has been objects of worth and a formal way to communicate through language,
there have been people trying to talk others out of their precious property. Scams or, more formally,
fraud, is nothing new.
However, with the dawn of the Information Age, the scams became both more sophisticated as well as
instantly international in nature. No longer did you have to know someone or be in the same area as
them. With the internet and the ability to send and receive money digitally, people could literally
perpetrate a scam on anyone in the world connected to the internet.
Internet Crime Complaint Center
The IC3, Internet Crime Complaint Center, is a division of the FBI setup to allow for reporting of cyber
fraud. In 2017 alone, according to the IC3 Crime Report, they received over 800 complaints per day
which resulted in $1.42 billion in victim losses. And the largest demographic sector affected are those
One of the most popular forms of internet fraud is the infamous email scam. Most of us, by now, has
received an email scam. Some of you recognized it, some of you deleted it because you did not
recognize the email and yet others fell for it.
Just as con artists continually develop new ways to graft people, email scammers are continually
thinking of new ways to scam people. It has become a joke by now. But, the Nigerian Prince email scam
was no joke.
It has resulted in thousands of people falling for the story that a Nigerian Prince wants to smuggle their
wealth out of the country but cannot. Since their money is tied up, they cannot access it until a foreign
processing fee is paid. In exchange, the prince will show his gratitude with an exorbitant amount of
money in return.
The people send the fee and, of course, no reward from a prince anywhere. This is one popular example
of a well-known email scam, with one of the latest variants being that a Nigerian Astronaut was left at
the space station and their relatives need $3 million to get the Russians to fly a mission up there to get
him back. In exchange, the astronaut has $15 million in his bank account that you can have.
Business Email Compromise (BEC)
One of the latest email scams is the Business Email Compromise or BEC. The BEC scam commonly
happens when the scammer is able to get access to a C-Level Executive’s email and studies it for a while
to determine the best form of attack. The scammer will pose as an employee of the company asking for
a W-2, sensitive information or that the employee owes money. According to the FBI, as of July 2018,
this one scam, over the past 5 years, has single handedly been responsible for over $12 billion in losses.
Email scams like the Government Grant, Bank Info Confirmation, Lottery are still in full effect and
continue to run rampant.
How can you protect yourself?
There are ways to avoid falling prey to these.
Don’t Provide Sensitive Info Via Email
First of all, if you are ever asked to provide any information via email, that is sensitive in nature, stop
right there. If your bank wants you to update your information, they will not ask you to email it to them.
Check the URL of the link before clicking on it
Second, when an email comes from a source that is asking for you to call them or update your
information, hover over the links where they ask you to login. Most of the time, the URL is wrong. Let’s
use Chase Bank as an example.
If you are going to actually login and update your info, the URL is http://chase.com. However, the “Login” button in the email will probably say something like http://updateinfo.chase.com.welovetoscam.com/aspd89fhew89uhwnfoqiwh. It will include
“chase.com” in it but since it is not the last part of the URL, it does not go to Chase.com it goes to
Do Not Send Money
Next, if you are ever asked to send an advance fee of any sort whatsoever, stop right there. In the
Government Grant Scam, they ask you to send a processing fee for the Government Grant you were
miraculously approved for, that you did not apply for in the first place. Grants take months to get and
are very difficult to be approved for. They do not just hand them out.
The IRS and FBI Do Not Send Email Warnings!
Also, if you get an email from the IRS or the FBI claiming that you have actually committed fraud and if
you do not call them or send your fine in, the local authorities will be sent to pick you up, delete it with
confidence. The IRS nor the FBI is going to send you an email if you are suspected of fraud. The local
authorities will come by to see you without a notice.
Another telltale sign is improper usage of grammar and spelling. If they are supposed to be official
emails from professional organizations, they have a grammar and spell check.
Good Old Common Sense
Finally, use some common sense. The old adage rings true here. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely
is. Use your head and do not let your emotions take over. Once you see the pattern, you will be able to
readily spot the email scams when they come in and not waste time nor fall prey to them.
The email scam will likely be around for as long as there is email. And there will be people falling for
them as long as there are scams. With a little heightened observation and diligence, you do not have to
be one of them.