• October 22nd, 2020

Opinion - The multi-billion-dollar online scam industry (Part 1)

John Munjoma 

Internet scam is a general term used to describe the use of internet services or software to defraud an unsuspecting victim for financial gain.
With more services and communication moving online today, cybercriminals are using the internet as a tool to rip off unsuspecting victims of their hard-earned money. This multi-billion-dollar industry has continued to grow despite efforts at local and international level to thwart the nefarious acts. 

The Online Romance Scam
While some people have found their true love partners online, others have fallen into the dungeons of online romance without detecting the predator behind the keyboard sending love messages and promising an exotic fantasy land. Preying on their emotions, the nefarious actor starts a conversation on an online dating site or other social media platforms such as Facebook. As the conversation continues, the actor who may be in a foreign country asks the victim to send them money to buy a ticket to come and visit.
Once the actor has gained the victim’s trust, they will come up with another ploy to syphon money from the victim. It may be an illness that requires urgent medical attention, a job offer that requires international travel to secure the future of the two when they marry and other tricks they know will lead their victims to send more money. 

Vetting an online relationship requires a lot of probing. If you start an online relationship with someone, help protect yourself by asking a lot of questions. Take the relationship slowly and never give financial information or money to someone you don’t know personally.
The Clothing Business Scam

Recently a number of business people have been scammed by people who disguise themselves as business runners who can help buy goods abroad and ship them to Africa. In most cases, these people claim to travel to Dubai, South Africa, China or Turkey to order clothes. Often targeting SMEs they facilitate their attacks using social media platforms where clothes are advertised. Once you subscribe to their groups, they would ask you to select products from their catalogue and urge you to order to a certain amount before they could process an order for you. Once you send this money, the actor would block you from their group and cut all communication. These actors are not using any technical skills to steal your money but simply logic and opportunity. 

If someone you do not know asks you to send a lot of money to purchase goods for you, do a thorough research about the legitimacy of that business and person. Some indicators could be persuasion to purchase things you do not intend to buy in order for you to reach a certain amount.

Overseas Job Scam
The job scam is accelerating as more and more people continue to look for jobs online. This scam might start out as a phone call, LinkedIn message, or unsolicited email that advertises a job requiring little to no experience, but offering a lot of money. Some of the common sited jobs are in the hotel and hospitality industry, travel and tourism as well as the healthcare industry.

Cybercriminals who advertise these scams often aim at attracting those looking for jobs or interested in working abroad. Once you apply, an agent will be in touch with you to process your application. The malicious agent will later on request you to make a payment in order for the company to complete processing your application and acquire the required certification for you to legally work in that industry abroad.
It is recommended to use well-known, reputable job sites when job hunting. Research the employer and look for people working for that company on sites such as LinkedIn, verify their presence on the company website an ensure that there’s consistency in pictures on LinkedIn, the company website and Facebook page. If the job offer seems too real to be true, chances are, it is a scam.
*John Munjoma is a networks and cyber security professional who focuses on empowering upcoming network and security engineers through training. 

Staff Reporter
2020-10-08 09:50:58 | 14 days ago

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