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10 Most Common Internet Scams People Fall For

By remaining vigilant, exercising caution, and adopting security measures, individuals can safeguard themselves against falling victim to these insidious schemes.
Cover Image Source: Woman browsing on the internet | Pexels | Photo by
Cover Image Source: Woman browsing on the internet | Pexels | Photo by
Image Source: Wera Rodsawang/Getty Images
Image Source: Photo by Wera Rodsawang | Getty Images

As per FTC, consumers lost $10 billion to scams and fraud in 2023, which is $1 billion more than in 2022. These scams come in various guises, each designed to deceive and defraud, leaving victims vulnerable to financial losses and identity theft. Understanding the modus operandi of these scams is paramount in safeguarding oneself against their nefarious tactics.

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Pixabay
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

One of the most prevalent scams involves fraudsters posing as bank representatives, luring individuals with the promise of pre-approved credit cards boasting increased limits, and enticing perks. These cunning impostors employ persuasive tactics to get personal information from their unsuspecting targets, exploiting their trust and naivety. A telltale sign of such scams is the persistence of unsolicited contact attempts, which should serve as a red flag prompting recipients to exercise caution and refrain from divulging sensitive information.

TikTok makes entry into e-commerce with its TikTok shop|Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Pixabay | Pexels

Another notorious breeding ground for fraudulent activities is Craigslist, a popular online marketplace facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers. While the platform offers convenience, it also harbors hidden dangers, as unsuspecting sellers may fall victim to counterfeit checks sent by unscrupulous buyers. Unbeknownst to the seller, the counterfeit check appears genuine at first glance, bearing the semblance of authenticity with official-looking logos and signatures. However, upon closer scrutiny, the check reveals signs of forgery, such as misspelled words, irregular fonts, or inconsistent formatting. Despite these red flags, some sellers, eager to complete the transaction, unwittingly deposit the check into their bank accounts, only to discover its fraudulent nature days later when it bounces.

Image Source:
Getty Images News/Chip Somodevilla / Staff
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Chip Somodevilla

Scammers are adept at exploiting human emotions, as evidenced by vacation mugging scams perpetrated through email hacking. In these elaborate schemes, fraudsters fabricate distressing scenarios, such as a friend being mugged while on vacation, soliciting monetary assistance from unsuspecting contacts. The elaborate narratives crafted by these deceitful actors aim to manipulate recipients into sending funds hastily, without verifying the authenticity of the distress call. 

Image Source: Pexels | Photo by cottonbro studio
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by cotton-bro studio

Following natural disasters or humanitarian crises, the outpouring of global support often becomes a safe avenue for donation scams. These scammers create fake charity websites or send phishing emails soliciting donations, preying on the altruism of unsuspecting donors. To thwart these exploitative endeavors, individuals must exercise due diligence, verifying the legitimacy of donation requests and ensuring that contributions are channeled through reputable organizations.

State Opening Of Parliament 2021 | Getty Images | Photo by Max Mumby
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Max Mumby

Originating from fraudulent emails purporting to be from Nigerian royalty, these scams promise extravagant financial rewards in exchange for assistance in transferring funds abroad. To lend credence to their claims, the scammer often employs sophisticated techniques, including forged documents, official-looking seals, and elaborate backstories, all designed to instill confidence in their victim and dispel any doubts or suspicions. 

Photo illustration of the Facebook |Getty Images | Photo by Chesnot
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Chesnot

This scam involves the exploitation of hacked Facebook accounts to deceive unsuspecting users. For instance, if a friend's account has been compromised, scammers may leverage the familiarity of the relationship to solicit sensitive information or request financial assistance. Manipulating the trust established through social connections, these fraudsters exploit the compromised account's credibility to deceive and defraud unsuspecting victims. 

Image Source: Photo by Gül Işık | Getty Images
Image Source: Photo by Gül Işık | Getty Images

Operating under the guise of legitimate educational institutions or governmental entities, scammers promise individuals the attainment of high school diplomas or GED equivalents in exchange for exorbitant fees. However, these purportedly free diplomas often turn out to be nothing more than false claims, as victims are coerced into paying for exams or courses with no tangible outcomes. To avoid falling victim to such scams, individuals should exercise skepticism and conduct thorough research before engaging with any educational offers, particularly those that seem too good to be true.

 The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building | Getty Images | Photo by Zach Gibson
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Zach Gibson

In this particularly audacious scam, fraudsters pose as IRS agents, coercing unsuspecting victims into purchasing gift cards to settle alleged tax debts. These scammers instill fear in their targets, threatening legal repercussions for non-compliance with their demands. By instructing victims to purchase gift cards from popular retailers and providing redemption codes, they exploit the anonymity and irreversibility of gift card transactions to abscond with ill-gotten gains. 

Representative image of an accident damaged black Ford Focus | Getty Images | Photo by Christopher Furlong
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Christopher Furlong

Exploiting the emotional vulnerability of parents, scammers perpetrate hit-and-run scams, falsely claiming that their children have been involved in accidents and require immediate financial assistance. These fraudsters coerce victims into wiring money under the guise of securing their child's release from supposed legal entanglements. To avoid falling victim to such heart-wrenching scams, individuals should verify the authenticity of distressing messages before taking any action.

Image Source: PNW Production/Pexels
Image Source: Photo by PNW Production | Pexels

Phishing scams are one of the most pervasive forms of internet fraud, wherein scammers impersonate legitimate entities to deceive individuals into divulging sensitive information. By posing as trusted organizations or individuals, these fraudsters lure unsuspecting victims into disclosing personal data or login credentials through fraudulent emails or websites. To safeguard against phishing scams, individuals refrain from clicking on suspicious links or providing personal information without verifying the legitimacy of the request.