I recently brought home a gorgeous little beagle puppy, Chewie. It took me a long time to find my forever friend, and along the way I stumbled across one of the classic Internet scams.
While browsing through the dog listings on The Trading Post, I found a Melbourne-based advertiser who claimed they had a pair of beagle pups available for adoption. Excited at the prospect of bringing home a pair of gorgeous beagles, I quickly replied to the ad asking the price, the location and when they were available.
I received a response at around 3am the next morning – red flag number one. The seller wanted to know about the home the dog would be going to, which would seem legit enough if it wasn’t for her terrible English.
Still, I replied explaining how I had a new home with backyard directly opposite the park. She was pleased with the response and said the dogs would be mine for free. The only charge was for transportation from Darwin – red flag number two. From here, she proceeded to send me an email from a non-existent shipping company requesting payment. Needless to say, I did not purchase those supposed puppies and I reported the ad.
Americans alone sent Internet scammers $13 billion last year, (Aussies aren’t much better) and these numbers show no signs of abating. It seems online scammers are one pest we can’t get rid of.
Here’s a shocker: not everything you read on the Internet is true. Just for shits and giggles, here are some of the worst scams people are still falling for.
The Nigerian email scam
This email can come in a million different shapes and forms.
“I am Mr. Paul Agabi,” it says. “I am the personal attorney to Mr. Harold Cooper, a national of your country, who used to work with Exxon Oil Company in Nigeria. On the 21st of April, my client, his wife and their only child were involved in a car accident. All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives.”
Amazingly enough, rich dead guy left behind millions of dollars—and your correspondent wants you to have it! If you’ll help Mr. Paul Agabi get those millions out of the country, using your bank account as a parking spot, he’ll share the dough with you.
Suddenly, your eyes are filled with dollar signs and you excitedly hit reply. First they ask for money to bribe officials, then comes the legal fees. The money you were promised, however, never comes!
You were scammed.
The bottom line: Don’t trust anyone who says you’re inheriting money from an unknown source.
The online girlfriend or boyfriend
You find the perfect person online and would do anything to meet them. The trouble is, they’re not Australian. In fact, they’re desperately trying to get to the country to visit you but they can’t afford it.
Next thing you know you’re sending them the fare for a plane ticket, but something comes up and they don’t make it. Then, they get themselves in trouble and need some money to bail themselves out – you send them the cash but then never hear from them again.
You were scammed.
Bottom line: Don’t give money to strangers.
The classic phishing scam
I received one of these just yesterday. You receive an email from your bank, Apple, eBay, PayPal etc, saying there’s something wrong with your account.
Heads up – there’s not!
Essentially they ask you to click on a link to fix the problem, said link goes to a fake version of the company’s website. When you log in, the slimy bastards on the other end hack your log in details, steal your identity, and make your life miserable.
You were scammed.
Bottom line: Open your browser, search the legit website and check you account. Chances are you’ll discover there’s nothing wrong with it. Plus, don’t trust weird emails that come from unverified sources.
It seems obvious, but the Internet isn’t always wondrous, it’s often dangerous. But if you proceed with caution (and a little common sense) you’ll be fine!