Fraud is “a representation or concealment of some fact material to a transaction of goods, services or other benefit that is made with knowledge of its falsity, non-existence, or misrepresentation and with the intent to deceive another and that is reasonably relied upon by the other who is injured thereby.”(Excerpted from “Scams, Schemes and Swindles”, a research paper, Financial Fraud Research Center, 2012)
Financial fraud seem to be everywhere in many varieties and across different industries: Cars, Education, Funerals, Money Transfers, Online Dating, Work-at-Home, you name it!
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), “Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information.”
Here are a few known scams:
- Online Dating Scams, 2011
- Mystery Shopper Scams, 2012
- Fake funeral notice can by deadly, 2014
- FTC continues to crack down on student loan scams, March 8th, 2018
- Bitcoin + online chain referral = illegal scheme, March 16th, 2018
- FTC asking for access to your computer? It’s a scam, April 6th, 2018
- Timeshare resale scheme preyed on older adults, May 22nd, 2018
- Cryptojacking scams, June 7th, 2018
A scam that seems to be on the rise is Cryptojacking because of scammers promoting quick rich schemes. Let’s explore what this means to you as a consumer.
CRYPTOJACKING: As defined by the FTC, “Scammers use your device’s processing power to “mine” cryptocurrency, which they can convert into cash. They can use malicious code embedded in a website or an ad to infect your device, then help themselves to your device’s processor without your knowledge. Should you make an unlucky visit to a website that uses cryptojacking code, click a link in a phishing e-mail or mistype a web address, any of these can lead to cryptojacking. And while the scammer cashes out, your device may slow down, burn through battery power or crash. To combat this, use antivirus software, set software and apps to update automatically, never install software or apps you don’t trust, don’t click links without knowing where they lead and be careful about visiting unfamiliar sites. It can be difficult to diagnose cryptojacking but one common symptom is poor device performance. So consider closing sites or apps that slow your device or drain your battery.
Some browser extensions and ad blocker tools promise they can help defend against cryptojacking by blocking mining code. Although these may be worth considering, always do the homework by reading reviews and checking trusted sources before installing any online tools. However, some websites may keep you from using their site if you have blocking software installed.”
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs weighed in on the fraud/scams conversation with some advice to stay one step ahead of the scammers. In its Internet Scam Guide, Web of Lies: How to protect yourself on the Infohighway:
- Remember that people in cyberspace are not always what they seem
- Don’t judge a website by how it looks
- Be careful about giving out your financial or other personal information
- Do not respond to bulk e-mails. If they don’t know you, keep your distance!
- Beware of investing money in an opportunity you learn about over the Internet
- Always use common sense. If you have a gut feeling that something is not legitimate, you’re probably right.
- Instruct your children NREVER to give out any personal information over the Internet, such as whole names, addresses, phone numbers, school names or photographs.
- Do not take other users’ identities for granted. Online user profiles and personal information provided by others could be more fiction than fact.
- When providing credit card information, make sure it is sent to a secure server. Use of secure servers is automatic in major web browsers, and most websites that support them will clearly mark that option. Make sure you get a message that a secure server is in use before sending information.
- Protect your password. People can use your online password to log onto your internet account, send e-mail from or run up expenses.
- Be careful of making purchases with ATM/Debit cards, they are not afforded the same protection as a credit card.
According to the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, “the Internet is becoming a big part of our everyday lives but there are no gatekeepers on the information superhighway.” New, unregulated technology means new opportunities for consumers, investors, businesses and SCAM ARTISTS. The rise of Internet use brings more deceptive and misleading promotions, bogus travel offers, contests, lotteries and other illegal practices on the Web. The scams are not new, but on the Internet, scams can be more dangerous. Unlike print advertising, impressive-looking Web sites can be designed relatively easily and cheaply. Just because an advertisement on the Internet appears to be professional does not mean it’s legitimate.
The bottom line: don’t believe internet ads. Consumers are just as likely to be scammed online as through more traditional types of advertising.
If you spot a scam, report it at https://ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies to investigate scams and bring crooks to justice.