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10 types of Online Scams that you should know!

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Fraudsters and cyber criminals are always looking to prey over internet users with these common methods to steal your money and your valuable personal data.

A scammer looking to scam and hack someone online.

The internet is used by millions of people around the world and has also been a source of livelihood to many. Unfortunately, there are two sides to a coin and there are bad things happening over the internet as well. Internet scammers are on the rise, waiting to pounce on any opportunity to prey on the gullible with new tricks up their sleeve.

These fraudsters have made a living out of scamming innocent victims and are deploying new ways to achieve their ultimate goal - to steal your money. For this reason, it is quite important to know the most common types of scams and how to identify them as it can be quite tricky on some occasions. Here are the 10 types of online scams that you need to know about -

1. Sweepstakes/Competition scam.

An email or a text message arrives out of nowhere stating that you have won a prize such as an Apple iPhone or even a brand new vehicle. They ask you to pay an upfront fee or shipping charges for it to be delivered to your doorstep. Victims often fall for this as they see the upfront amount to be quite small in comparison to the value of the prize. Unfortunately, the prize never arrives and the scammers may even go to the extent of asking for additional fees after receiving the initial upfront payment.

2. Gift card fraud.

Gift cards are very commonly used as a gift to our loved ones and because gift cards are like cash, they are a popular way for scammers to steal your money. In this type of fraud, scammers may reach out to you via email or text, demanding the payment of a certain type of fee against a reward/prize. They may also pose themselves as someone from the tax department asking for the payment of taxes, or even as an employee of a tech support company asking for payment to fix your computer. Anyone who demands payment via gift cards is most likely a scammer and they often have a very urgent need to receive the money. Victims are often asked to buy gift cards of a certain amount and provide the gift card number along with the PIN.

3. Credit/Debit card fraud.

In this type of fraud, victims are duped into providing their credit/debit card details to the scammer who then uses the information to make purchases. Scammers often send an email or a text posing to be an employee from the bank, credit card company or any other online payment service. They claim to have a problem with your card and request for the card details. It is always advisable to watch your account closely and monitor all online transactions.

4. Investment fraud.

Scammers present you with an investment opportunity where you can make lots of money and get rich quickly in a very short period of time. They ask you to invest a certain amount of money and act quick on it or miss out on the golden opportunity. With a promise of earning huge profits, victims are duped into making large investments. Unfortunately they make no returns on their investments and lose their original investment as well.

5. Lottery scam.

Quite similar to the sweepstakes scam, a lottery scam is where you may receive an email, text or even a WhatsApp message from the scammer claiming that you have won a lottery with a prize reward of a huge lump sum. Unfortunately, the scammer due to some reason is unable to transfer the whole amount to you without receiving upfront fees or charges of some kind. Greed takes over the victims and they transfer the upfront fees and charges to the scammer as the amount is quite negligible compared to the lottery prize.

A laptop being used by a scammer to scam gullible people.

6. Work at home scam.

Scammers reach out to those looking for jobs or financial independence where they are promised a large amount of money for a simple work at home job. They are offered a job where the workload is minimal compared to the salary provided. They ask you to pay a certain amount of fee for registration to get started only to then disappear without a trace.

Work from home scams also include the very popular pyramid schemes where you are asked to pay an upfront registration fee or buy products that are overpriced, of poor quality and don't sell. The scheme relies on you convincing other people to sign up and part with their money. Your only source of income would then be through commissions by recruiting others below you, inviting them to buy the products and pay the registration fee. In order for everyone in the scheme to make a profit there has to be an endless supply of new members but at some point of time it will naturally stop. Those at the top of the pyramid make the most money out of this scheme.

7. Job offer scam.

Scammers may pose as recruiters or employers and may even impersonate employees from a legitimate company as details are quite easily available on LinkedIn. They claim to have seen your resume and are interested in hiring you. They may even go to the extent of offering you the job without an interview. They ask you to pay a joining fee or an upfront payment against the training course, business materials, uniforms etc. To avoid such scams, it is important to ask a lot of questions to verify their authenticity, conduct a lot of research about the said company so as to know their legitimacy.

8. Make money fast scam.

Scammers begin with luring their victims into believing that they could be living a luxurious lifestyle and make money fast with minimal effort. They offer victims a business opportunity appealing to their emotional side. The victim is then asked to pay a certain registration fee or provide their financial details. Unfortunately, the promises made are too good to be true and the reality is that there are no shortcuts to making money fast.

9. Online dating scam.

Scammers are scouring over social media platforms or dating websites and apps pretending to be prospective companions. They create fake online profiles with fictional names or may even falsely take on the identity of real people. They play on the emotional side of the victims luring them into providing money, financial details or to help cover costs associated with illness, injury, travel or a family crisis.

10. Fake antivirus software fraud.

You may come across a pop-up message on different websites where they may ask you to download the anti-virus software claiming that your system has been infected. On downloading the fake anti-virus software, your system could actually be infected with a malware or a dangerous ransomware which is capable of blocking and encrypting your operating system. You may then receive a request for a sum of money in exchange for the decryption key. However, the scammers may not provide the decryption key even after they've received the payment. Related - All you need to know about Network & Multilevel Marketing!

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I didn’t realize there were so many! Thanks for sharing!


Kate Murray
Kate Murray
Jul 24, 2019

These are all really great examples of what to look out for! Thanks for sharing!


Angela Louise
Angela Louise
Jul 18, 2019

Wow, I didn't realize how many different scams there are online. It's a shame how people will take advantage of others for their gain. Thank you for taking the time to put together this list of types of online scams. I'll be sharing to help others avoid falling for any of these scams.

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