Online scammers lurk and wait to target the unaware. A scammer might target you if you’re using a computer at home, but these individuals can also target businesses.
Either way, you should know about the most common online scams. If you do, you can better avoid them, and you’re not liable to deal with identity theft and similar problems. We’ll talk about five of the most prevalent online scams right now.
The Nigerian Prince Scam
Being aware of common online scams is always smart, and the Nigerian prince scam is one of the oldest around. The basic idea involves you getting an email from a Nigerian prince or some other notable figure. They want your help retrieving money from a bank or another entity holding it for them.
To get that money, they ask for a small amount from you that they’ll ostensibly put toward legal fees or paperwork. The idea is ridiculous at face value. Why would this person have any connection to you? In reality, a scammer might send this email to thousands of email addresses, hoping that at least a few will fall for it.
Of course, some individuals have fallen for this scam or similar ones over the years. If you see an email that resembles this scam, don’t even bother to open it, let alone give the sender any money. Usually, you can identify this scam just by looking at the email’s subject line.
The Hitman Scam
The hitman scam sounds scary, and it might seem that way when you first see it. You’ll get an email from some unknown sender saying they’ll kidnap a family member or do something else equally intrusive or threatening. They won’t move forward with the kidnapping or whatever else they’re threatening if you just send them some money.
Usually, a scammer will send out many emails, just like the fake Nigerian prince would. They’re hoping that if they use threatening language, they might entice someone who opens the email to send them money because they believe there’s a genuine danger to a loved one.
These are toothless threats that won’t go anywhere. It probably won’t surprise you to know that if you ignore these emails, nothing will happen to any of your family members.
Lottery scams usually follow a similar formula that you’ll get with all of those fictitious Nigerian princes that seem to spend so much time online. You’ll get a subject line indicating you won a large cash prize from the state or federal lottery, and you need to send a nominal fee so you can collect that larger prize amount.
Just like the Nigerian prince, there’s another scammer on the other end of that email, and they’re probably sending out thousands of them. Usually, they will end up right in your spam folder, and you should never bother with opening one.
If one ends up in your inbox for some reason, just ignore it. You probably never even entered the lottery, and even if you did, lottery officials wouldn’t try to contact you and solicit money you need to pay to collect your winnings.
Romance scams can follow a few different formats, but typically, they start when you sign up for a dating service. A person with a fake profile will contact you. Some people call the romance scam catfishing.
This fake individual will try to message you and get you to talk to them. Sophisticated ones will have you speak to someone over the phone in addition to them messaging you. They might send you pictures of an attractive person they’re trying to pass off as themselves.
Usually, they will ask you to send money at some point to help a sick family member, or they might solicit cash for a plane ticket so they can visit you. Don’t pay them that money. There’s no sick family member, and if you expect this person to come and see you, they’re not likely to ever show up.
Greeting Card Scams
You might get an email with “greeting card” or something similar in the subject line. Don’t open one of these.
It might have malware inside it, and once you open it, it will infiltrate your computer and cause all sorts of problems. These emails usually end up in your junk folder, but if one gets into your inbox, get rid of it without engaging with it. You can also report it as spam.