The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Plenty of Phish in the Sea of the Internet
As the world becomes more connected to the Internet, and more people gain access to email and social media, it only makes sense that there will be a lot more dishonest and untruthful people online, whether individuals or companies. July has become the official month for Scams Awareness. While I have never been a personal victim to a scam, other than someone managing to somehow use my credit card in Detroit, though I have never been to Detroit in my life, I have never willingly handed over money to a scam artist, but unfortunately, millions of people have and have lost their entire life savings because of it. This week, we are focusing on the awareness of scams through email and phone calls, and what can be done to ensure we maintain our privacy online, and spot those spammers and scammers. For the most part, the safest way is to avoid them by deleting the email, but there are too many who read the email and believe the “too good to be true” scheme.
The average person receives quite a ton of email a week if they have an email address and have shared it with at least one or two websites in the past. Your email may be shared, sold, or distributed to other websites, as this is the business and value of an email address. It seems that no matter how hard you try to protect your email address, there will always be others to get a hold of it and use it for their own marketing purposes. Whether this email is wanted or unwanted, it can become annoying and build up, often resulting in blocking of the email address or flagging those specific types of emails as spam. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of unwanted email addresses that get through and some of the offers are quite appealing.
In a previous post, I wrote a confession, asking if you would fall for a Nigerian scam. The answer most people would give: Not me, I would never fall for it. If this were the case, these emails wouldn’t be sent in the millions to try and reel in some poor unsuspecting soul from getting their identity stolen. Every year, hundreds of thousands of new identities are stolen, because the emails sound too good to be true, and why not? What do you have to lose? Everything, actually.
If you have gone your whole life working hard for what you want, you have already learned this great lesson: Very rarely in life do you get things for free and more rare do you get a handout. If you are a hard working person, however, you already learned many lessons and that is: Work for what you want in your life, but don’t expect anyone to just give you something for free or make it easy for you.
The same goes for emails. Whether you won the lottery in Nigeria or England, or you had a long lost and forgotten Aunt or Uncle, or whether this stranger is looking to give away their cash, but all they need is all of your information so they can store money into your bank account. Those types of emails are common in the inbox of Confessions of the Professions. Every week, it seems that I have won some lottery or that someone is near-death and for some reason, they found my email address and want to give me an insane amount of money that doesn’t even sound real.
Believe it or not, this email that I receive on a daily basis, at least once or twice a month, fools a lot of people.
YOUR RELIABLE COMPENSATION FUNDS/EFCC) FOREIGN OPERATIONS DEPT (CALL ME+234-802-301-4673)
FROM MR. IBRAHIM MAJU. m(CHAIRMAN)
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION
NIGERIA INVESTIGATION BUREAU
14A AWOLOWO LANE,
Motto: No Body is Above the LAW
(BE CAREFUL OF THE HOODLUMS / SCAMMERS)
BE CAREFUL OF THE HUDLOOM
Firstly we introduce this commission,Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) we fight cybercrime, Internet fraud, scam and money laundering in Africa and London United Kingdom Our commission has been in existences since 2004 and our duty is to stop internet fraud. We have over 7,500 of them in our jails around Africa and UK and we are still looking for these internet fraudsters and we are aware that a lot of foreigners have been deceived a huge amount of money has also been lost to this
fraudsters after promising you percentages in their letters for you to help them move funds and they will end up demanding for money from you and in return you
will get nothing.
The Leaders of the African Crime fighters has come together to inform the world what is going on now and we have recovered over $422 Million Dollars (Four Hundred and Twenty two Million Dollars) from the people we have apprehended. The reason we are writing you this letter is because your name was given to us by one of the fraudsters in our detention room after serious investigation and our aim is to refund all lost fund to its legitimate owner.
The Government has approved a total of (us$2.5Million) only as the Compensation of the lost that you incurred as this was a ceiling rate as some suffered more while others suffered less to and the idea is to restore you back to the position that you would have been if not that you are defrauded. In addition to the compensation amount also approved in your favor is (us$2.5Million) only will be paid to you in the next few days as the International conformable Draft has been issued in your favor?
We are doing this in other to retain the good image of this great country, the president (General Muhammadu Buhari) has instructed the payment of (us$2.5Million) each to 200 victims both America Asia Europe Etc. Due to his political straightness, all that you have to do right now is to contact the undersigned furnish him with the following data of yours immediately as we intend finalizing this payment in few days time.
8.Country Of Residence:
Preferred Payment Method (ATM / Cashier Check or Bank to Bank Transfer)
CONTACTPERSON: Mr.Ibrahim Maju
CONTACT EMAIL ADDRESS: [email removed]
Mr Ibrahim Maju.
CHAIRMAN ECONOMIC & FINANCIAL
15A Awolowo Road,
Look familiar? Why would anyone from Nigeria, let alone Africa, want to give me money or name me as the beneficiary? I have a few clients that I build websites for in Africa, but that is about it. They certainly are not rich enough to give me a few million dollars. This is a scam behind nicely written English words. Just because it sounds nice does not make it real. Anyone can write that they have money and tell you an amount that they have, but it does not mean that they actually have it, and if they did have it, it does not mean they would ever give it to you. When has a millionaire or billionaire ever given you money? Go ahead, I’ll wait. Let me hear this great story you have in the comments. Unless you somehow inherited it, worked for it and earned it, or got lucky, it just does not happen. Don’t fall for phishing scams like this, no matter how enticing or promising it sounds.
The computer age came about when I was in my pre-teenage years and I began with CompuServe and AOL, having an email address at both, with spam being received at the dawn of the Internet. I have had many other email addresses since then, with plenty of spam along the way. Not once in my entire life have I ever received a legit email regarding money, except the occasional Paypal email that says that someone sent me some money, which usually only happens because I did some work for a client. Any other email that promises you money in exchange for your personal information is fraud, a phisher, and will end up costing you more than just your personal information. Your identity will be stolen, your bank account will be wiped out, your name, address, social security number, etc. will be used around the world and your life will never ever be the same.
These emails may be enticing and it is often our very own greed that draws us in, thinking that we have finally hit some miracle and someone is giving away their hard-earned money for free. If you came into a few million dollars, or even a few thousand dollars, would you be giving that money away? You might donate some of it to charity, but would you sit on your computer, sending out mass emails to random people that in exchange for their information, you will send them money?
Lets be realistic and logical: No one gives away free money, except a few donors. Either companies or the government are taking it, telling you that you owe them money, but no one is actually giving it away. As Pink Floyd sang in Money, “Money, it’s a crime. Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie. Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today. But if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away.” Never fall victim to the email hoax that is ever-prevalent and scams millions of people each year.
Phishing is on the rise, from emails ranging from lottery winnings and people looking to give away free money to the more professional looking emails from companies, such as Paypal, telling you that there is a problem with your account, and that you will need to login. If you ever get an email from your bank, Paypal, or any company telling you that there is a problem with your account and to login, than don’t. Go through the website itself and login to see what is wrong. Do not click any links in ANY email that ask you to login. Whether they are legit or not, go directly to the website by typing it in the address bar instead of clicking it through a link. Many of these links are dressed up to look like a certain website, but they are not, and so, your information can be stolen this way as well.
Phishing is not just done through emails but also websites as well. Take a look at this company that scams the elderly by displaying a fake web page that tells the person they have a computer virus and it needs cleaning. Unbeknownst to the person, they are asked to call a fake company, who gets a hold of their credit card information and charges them for the computer cleanse, despite doing absolutely nothing to their computer. They may not wipe out a person’s account, but they will charge them the price of the “computer cleanse”, which can range anywhere from $100 to $400, which is a lot of money.
Your information is already available on the Internet. If you have a social media account, there is plenty of information about you, but that does not mean you should be giving it away to just anybody. Be very careful. For most people, your identity online is your identity in real life, and if it gets stolen or harvested for information, the consequences could certainly ruin your life.
Be cautious. Be aware. Don’t get greedy. Don’t trust emails you receive or every website you come across, no matter where you see it, even if it was displayed in your social media feed. Protect yourself and don’t become another phish in the sea of scammers.