Unfortunately, our online world creates enormous opportunities for scammers. As a woman, you might use social media, work online, or to meet people. Any one of these situations and a host of others leaves you open to scammers and dealing with people who are faking their identities.
While it’s scary to think about being the victim of a scammer, the more you know about how these situations arise, the better position you’re in to protect yourself.
The following are some of the most frequent signs that you’re being scammed online.
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1. Romance and Fake Dating Scams
Scammers often take advantage of not only women but also men who date online. These scams prey on people’s trust and vulnerabilities.
A person who’s attempting to scam you might create an altogether fake profile on a dating site or dating app. Their goal is to create a relationship with someone and a quick emotional connection that they ultimately profit from.
One of many particular examples is when a scammer poses as a military member. They might tell their victim they’re far away and can’t meet in person, but they will quickly start to say they love them.
Then, the goal is to hook someone into an online relationship to pave the way to start asking for money, gifts, or gift cards.
One of the biggest red flags you’re being scammed in this way is that the person refuses to talk to you on the phone or FaceTime. You might want to do a reverse phone number search if you have contact information for the person and see what comes up. You should immediately be suspicious if someone doesn’t want you to hear their voice or see their face.
2. Online Shopping
You might shop online regularly, as most people do. Then, you could see an ad on social media for a website selling a popular or brand-name product at a price that seems great. You click the link provided in the ad, and then you’re taken to a website. Is it legitimate?
Some things to look for before buying anything from an online eCommerce site include whether or not it’s secure. Any time you’re shopping online, look for the HTTPS and the icon of a lock in the address bar, signifying a secure connection.
Scammer sites often create a sense of urgency, so people will buy things quickly, which is another red flag. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Finally, look at how you’re being asked to pay. A scammer site will often ask you to pay with a non-secure method, like money orders, bank transfers, a wire, or a cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin.
3. Using Trust and Emotion
Regardless of the specifics of a scam or how it’s being carried out, it’s common for online scammers to try and gain your trust. They might say they’re from a well-known or respected source like the government or a popular business like Amazon.
If you get an email or any type of contact from a supposedly trusted source, you should do a Google search to go directly to their website rather than clicking a link in an email or text.
The next element of online scams is that they tend to play on emotions.
These don’t have to be positive emotions. For example, a romance scam, it’s about feelings of love and wanting companionship.
Scammers can also evoke emotions like fear. They might tell you that the IRS will put a lien on your home if you don’t take immediate action.
You might think you’re clicking a link to log in and fix whatever the problem is, but then you’re actually taken to a fraudulent site that’s skimming your login information. Along with fear, anger and excitement are emotions that scammers may want to use to their advantage in their tactics.
4. You’re Being Overpaid
If you’re doing anything online and someone is volunteering to overpay you, it’s almost assuredly a scam. In one example, a scammer might say they’re going to hire you to do a project for them. Then, they’ll say they’ll pay you more than they promised.
At that point, they might say they accidentally paid more than they thought and want the extra money back. The issue is that if you pay them, you’re giving up your real money; what they paid you were fraudulent.
5. Pretending to be a Family Member
One of the oldest tricks fraudsters have long used in different variations is pretending to be a family member or loved one. For example, they might reach out to you on social media and tell you that they’re stuck or in trouble and need you to wire them money.
The scammer might have stolen your relative’s Facebook photos and profile information, set up a fake profile, and then sent you a message.
6. Cryptocurrency Scams
The growing world of cryptocurrency has left open many new opportunities for scammers to take advantage of people, unfortunately. Scammers are constantly looking for ways to steal money, and there are a lot of crypto scams they use.
Some scammers will make fake websites like crypto trading platforms or fake versions of actual crypto wallets. These sites will usually have a very similar domain to a legitimate site, with very small differences that are hard to spot.
These sites can act as phishing pages, where you’re giving your login information. They can also steal directly. For example, you might invest money in the so-called site, and then when you want to withdraw it, your request is denied, or the site is gone.
Crypto phishing scams involve the use of online wallets.
A scammer will target a crypto wallet’s private keys. Private keys are needed to access funds within the wallet.
Finally, pump and dump schemes are when someone hypes up a certain coin through social media. Then, traders rush in and drive up the price. Once the price is inflated, the scammer will sell their holdings, creating a crash within a matter of minutes.
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