Online Con Artists: Six of the Scariest Scams of 2015

Online Con Artists Six of the Scariest Scams of 2015

Image: Flickr/DonHarkins

As technology evolves, so do the criminals and scammers who use it. In the past year, several online scams made headlines, from the use of online dating services, to gift cash, to conning Facebook users into spreading spam. Looking at these different instances we see how the use of technology is affecting the way crime is being done.

Online Romance Scams
While you may be familiar with looking out for little white lies in someone’s online dating profile, you could be missing a much bigger problem, as online romance scams skyrocket in popularity. Scammers impersonate a person who’s looking for love, and then string their unsuspecting paramour along for months or even years, asking for cash or favors the entire time. Several stories of this type of scam broke in 2015, bringing the issue back to the public’s attention.

Facebook Giveaway Scams
Think twice when you see a post promising a chance to win a trip to Disneyland or a brand new Porsche on social media. While sharing or liking these posts may seem harmless, their true purpose may actually serve in boosting a page’s likes so the owner can then sell it to someone else as a captive audience.

Facebook “Dislike” Button Scam
The announcement of Facebook’s forthcoming dislike button has caused a lot of excitement. One scam has tried to capitalize on this by convincing users to share a link with five friends in order to obtain access to the new button. However, these links take users to sites that try to get them to enter personal and financial information, with no dislike button in sight.

E-Z Pass Scam
Drivers in various states who use an E-Z Pass to simplify their commute have been targeted with emails that claim they owe payment for use of certain roads. When they click on a link, they are prompted to enter payment information, and a virus is downloaded to the computer.

Windows 10 Update Scam
While you may be excited for a new operating system, be wary of emails offering you a download of Windows 10. What you often get instead is a locked computer held ransom by scammers.

Renter Credit Check Scam
Be suspicious of a Craigslist poster who won’t let you come see an apartment unless you first follow a link to get a credit report. Often, there’s no apartment and the ad is simply set up to bring in money from people paying to get a credit report.

Remember to stay safe online. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be suspicious of any emails or websites that ask you to enter sensitive information. With the changing landscape of technological life, criminals and schools of criminal justice have had to adjust to the new way corruption is done. As you become familiar with life online, make sure you are aware of the different scams and how to avoid them.