MALAYSIAN ASEAN APEC LEAD PROF DR JACOB GEORGE AT GETTING AT THE TRUTH MATTERS SERIES – ONLINE SCAMS IN ITS MANY VERSIONS!

Usually, scammers will use fear to manipulate you into doing something you normally would not! They perhaps tell you something is wrong with your account or your computer to scare you.

Some scammers might even try to convince you that they are law enforcement and that you have committed a crime such as downloading pirated software.

MALAYSIAN ASEAN APEC LEAD PROF DR JACOB GEORGE AT GETTING AT THE TRUTH MATTERS SERIES – ONLINE SCAMS IN ITS MANY VERSIONS!

‘Ila’ (not her real name) informed me that she received a message from an unknown number stating:

You are already a winner! You just need to provide us with some personal information in order to claim your prize. We’ll need your bank account information so we can deposit your winnings and we need your income tax details for tax purposes of course.

Looks authentic!

The previous paragraph is an extreme oversimplification of the basics of a typical online scam; the “real” versions of these scams are much more sophisticated and believable.

Scammers have honed their craft over years and years of trial and error. They have really learned what works on people and what does not!

My team at CASSA had studied scams comprehensively!

Most scams have several things in common. If you can learn to recognize these common elements, then you should be able to spot an online scam a mile away, before you get suckered.

Let me take a look at several telltale signs of an Internet scam.

First and foremost – Money is involved.

Whether it is a lottery, prize, sweepstakes, phishing, or reshipping scam, winnings from supermarket episode money is always involved.

Looking at it comprehensively – they may say that you have won money that you have been left money, that your money is in danger, but the common element is money. This should be your biggest indicator that you might be looking at a scam.

We have always at CASSA told consumers that they should never give out their credit card or personal information to anyone based on an email one received or a link one found in a pop-up message.

Always contact your bank at the number on your latest statement, never use a number found in an email, or on a website that you were directed to by an email.

We all know the old saying “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is”. This is definitely the case when it comes to online scams.

Scammers play on the fact that many people would love to get rich quickly by learning how to make money with minimal effort or learn some money making secret that no one else knows about.

Scammers – yes those days from the African continent, but now they operate even in the UK, US, from ASEAN or APEC capitals, even Malaysia where they are masquerading as students, businessmen and women, married to unsuspecting locals at times not all cases, and they dangle the carrot of easy money in order to distract you from their target: your personal and financial information.

Sometimes the scammers are talented and they will not ask you for personal information but will ask you to install software on your computer.

This software is usually malware, disguised as something else.

Scammers make money through malware affiliate marketing programs which pay them to infect computers so that those computers can be effectively sold into virtual slavery as part of large botnets.

Control of these botnets is sold as a commodity on the virtual black market.

Actually phishing scammers are notorious for creating a false sense of urgency and attempting to induce panic in order to circumvent their victim’s rational thought processes.

Much like a sleight-of-hand magician uses misdirection; scammers use false urgency to distract you from their true goal.

Always investigate an email before acting on its content. Take your time and check the Internet for keywords used in the email to see if it might be a known scam.

If the email claims to be from your bank, call the customer service number on the last statement you received in the mail and NOT the one number you found in the email.

Usually, scammers will use fear to manipulate you into doing something you normally would not! They perhaps tell you something is wrong with your account or your computer to scare you.

Some scammers might even try to convince you that they are law enforcement and that you have committed a crime such as downloading pirated software.

They will use your fear to trick you into paying a “fine” (called ransom ware) to make everything alright (?) but this my learned friends is nothing more than blackmail under false pretense.

I have said this on my TV and other media talk shows that if someone online ever threatens physical harm to you or your family’s personal safety, you should contact your local law enforcement agency as soon as possible.

The Malaysian Police force is an excellent group so are the security apparatus in most countries I have been the UK, the US, Australia and others in ASEAN, APEC to cite a few!

Now what does every scammer want besides your money?

They want your personal information so they can steal your identity to sell it to other crooks or use it themselves to obtain loans and credit cards in your name.

This is why I have repeatedly urged the last Malaysian government that they needed to do more on this personal privacy thing than that they did and I am again crying out to the newly minted minister a friend too from my home town to initiate the fast track change!

Let us get these buggers!

Even those on online dating portals and my friends in the Police force have repeated warned Malaysians but to no avail – then scream when scammed!

Personal and financial privacy important and we need to act and check with whom we are all sharing it with!

So avoid giving out your social security number or bank details to anyone online – period!

You should also avoid providing any personal information in response to an unsolicited email or a pop-up message.

Have a great weekend folks!