Phish, 419 and other Internet scams

Why do so many people become conned on the Internet?

Easy answer: It is not just the Internet. People are conned daily and everywhere. The main reasons why people get involved in things they should not be, is greed, laziness, ignorance, low moral values (no ethics) and trust or reverse trust.

Ingrained in our essence is the need to trust people. We want to trust that young boy or girl in the shopping center parking lot that just needs ten rand to get back to his or her family. We want to trust that our attorney would not steal our money from his or her trust account. We want to trust strangers. Reverse trust is when other people pretend that they trust us, we want to return that trust and reward them for trusting us first.

Simple rule: Only trust after verification and even then on a limited basis which is only increased to a pre defined and set amount of money. For example, my domestic engineer is trusted, has been working at my home for many years and yet I will never entrust her beyond a few thousand rands, ever.

To avoid scams on the Internet is very easy. There are a couple of ‘golden’ rules:

1. Whenever you have to pay money for anything without you actually buying something, don’t. Seems like a simple rule but many people just can not and do not follow this simple rule.

2. There is no such thing as ‘easy money’ never mind what you think or believe. There is no ‘Internet secret’ or any such thing, again, a simple rule.

3. Everywhere where you are expected to provide your password, wake up, check your browser for a security lock, URL locator, security certificates. How did you get there? Was it from a trusted source? Why do they need your password, credit card or other details? Is it absolutely required? If in any doubt, just say no.

The most popular Internet scams:
419: Also pre payment, post payment, forward fee and other similar scams all based on the same idea that you have to pay a fee first, to receive income, money or other assets.

Phishing: Also identity theft, credit card, password and data theft or similar scams with the primary objective of receiving information in order to facilitate future theft and fraud (You do not just have to have money or assets, criminals also steal good credit track records and max out your credit limits)

Internet money mules: Someone convinces you somehow that it is a good idea to receive money that does not belong to you, into your bank account, keep a percentage of it and then pay the rest of it over to a different account.

Personally, I have never been conned. Not even out of R1. If someone approaches me with any type of sad story, I tell them that I am not interested. I do not talk to strange people in shopping center parking lots, at service stations or anywhere else in fact. I do not buy anything from traffic light sales persons and I also do not ever give anyone any money, when they ask for it. I rather ensure that I know what is happening in my community and invest the effort of actually establishing which people or families require assistance and then donate clothes etc. to my own community. Then again, I have no money, valuable assets or good credit record so why would someone bother trying to con me in the first place 🙂