Online scams continue to proliferate, largely because they only need a really small strike rate to actually be profitable. It doesn’t take too much work to eliminate one of the most frequent points of failure — and that’s you.
Most scams operate on the basis that you’ll be so overwhelmed by information — or scared, or greedy, or maybe all three – that you’ll just blindly click and give them your information, your money (usually a “processing” or “shipping” fee) or both.
It’s a bad idea to do that. Did I really need to type that?
Yes, it seems I did, because over the last week I’ve been hit with three separate scam vectors. First of all, this turned up via SMS.
WOW! I’M IN THE MONEY, I’M IN THE MONEY!!!! ONE BILLION POUNDS!
Or… not. Leaving aside the awful grammar, or the fact that there’s a missing zero at the end, making it only ONE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS! (I guess; should I feel short-changed?) I don’t recall entering any lotteries recently, and something tells me — just something — that if you’ve got a lazy ONE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS! to give away to complete strangers, you can probably afford site hosting of your own, and wouldn’t need a gmail address to administer it from.
Honestly, spend the fifty bucks on the hosting; I can live without it as long as the ONE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS! is still mine.
Which, naturally, it isn’t.
Or then, via email, was this.
Looks vaguely legit, and, naturally, it is tax time, so I might have an outstanding claim needing processing. That’s the nature of a lot of these scams, though. They’ll target a topical issue, be it tax time, disaster relief, a new “hot” gadget or whatever it might be, to get you interested. But there are problems.
Firstly, why is the ATO not sending from its own hosting? Whatever you might think of the Australian economy right now, I’m pretty sure that we’re able to afford some of our own hosting. What happens, though, if I leave the mouse hovering over that link to the Tax Refund E-Portal?
Oh. When did the ATO start operating out of thestateofbenoitgilsoulartist.com? That’s right — they DIDN’T!
And finally, the good old Facebook “We’ve got free stuff” scam.
This one popped up overnight via a friend of mine — who I’ve excluded from the screenshot, because it’s not about personal shaming — and it’s one I’ve written about before over at Gizmodo. People, people, people — there are companies that give away stuff on Facebook. Yes, that does happen.
But they can usually spell. Especially the company name. Also, they don’t do it “because they’ve been opened”. They don’t tend to have Facebook accounts that were registered only minutes ago. You are making things worse “even if it’s fake” by sharing it, because you add legitimacy to it.
I could go on, but hopefully, you get the point. None of this is “new” in any real way, but it keeps on happening, and it keeps on happening largely because it keeps on working.