Stop the Online Scams!

I am not ashamed to admit this, but when I was 18 or 19 years old, I was hand-picked by an African king to help him solve some financial problems he was having. I wasn’t sure how exactly he got my email address or why he thought I was capable of helping him, but for a brief moment I actually believed the email.

Fast forward to present day and everyone has received an email very similar to that and the scary part it that if this scam wasn’t working then the emails would probably cease to exist. Scams have been going on for as long as we know and in the digital age where almost everything is done online, it is becoming increasingly easier for scammers to ‘pickpocket’ people’s information on the internet.

The really unfortunate part is that the most common time for the scams to pop up are in the wake of a tragedy. After the Boston Marathon bombing, there were links and websites that supposedly had never-before-seen footage of the bombing or even worse, they were fake donation pages. The websites that were promising footage would download a virus on to your computer and once you clicked on the link, the fake charity would take your money. It’s so easy to build a good looking website now, so once these events are broadcast, you will notice social media accounts and websites showing “footage” and asking for donations. The safest way to know you are donating money to a real charity is to wait a day or two and listen for information from news stations about charities that are helping.

Once in a while, you will receive a message or post from a friend or follower that usually says, “You gotta check out this video!” Beware of these messages; you should have a gut feeling that the sender’s account was probably hacked. Think about the friend who posted the message and if they would actually post something like this. The safest thing to do when you are unsure is just delete the post or message. The worst thing that can happen if you delete it is you miss out on a funny video, which seems a lot better than having your personal information stolen!

My rule of thumb when I am unsure about a message is “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck!” Next week I will be diving deeper into online scams, showing you some similarities in some of them. Have you been a victim of a scam? Tell me your story @Cbyron11.