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How to Recognize Cyber Fraud

Classified Ad Fraud:In a classified ad fraud, the scammer will post an ad claiming to offer an item for sale. It could be anything imaginable. Cars, collectibles and season tickets are all common offerings. When you reply, the thief will ask you to send money before sending the non-existent item. The thief may use the pretense of needing a partial payment, a service fee or a deposit.

Another common angle is the fake cashier's check. The criminal will ask to send you a cashier's check, often for an amount greater than the sale price. The reason may be that he or she can't cash the check due to being in a foreign country. Sometimes the claim will be that someone who owes him or her money will send the check. They will tell you to deposit the check and send them money. By the time your bank finds out that the cashier's check is no good, the scammer has your money.

Online Auction Fraud:In the online auction version, the crime is simple. Someone will list an item for sale that he or she doesn't have. Instead of accepting PayPal, which carries some buyer protection, the scammer will insist on payment by wire transfer or by Western Union or MoneyGram. Once you send money using one of these methods there is no way to get it back. The cashier's check scam may also be used here.

The Grandparent Scam:This is an old scam with a new twist. If you are a grandparent, you may receive a phone call, a text message or an email from someone claiming to be your grandchild. Other scenarios include claims to be a friend or another family member. The caller will claim to be in trouble. He or she may claim to be in jail, in a foreign country with no money or have just been robbed.

The scammer will ask for money to be wired. They will often ask you not to tell anyone, because they are ashamed of their situation or don't want to upset anyone else.

The new variation of this crime is the use of social networks. People often put their entire life history on these websites. This makes it easy for the scammer to know who to call and to have information that makes their pitch believable.

The most important tool in avoiding cyber fraud is knowledge. If you know the types of scams that you are likely to encounter, you are less likely to fall for them. Some of these crimes have been around for a long time, like phishing, online auction fraud and classified ad scams. Some use updated methods, like getting information from social media sites. Old or new, these crimes all have one objective. They are designed to take your money.

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