Email scams are nothing new. They have been around for as long as email has been around. Phishing scams are the most common type of email scam, where scammers try to trick you into giving them your personal, financial or sensitive information. They do a phishing attempt by sending you a phishing email that looks like it’s from a legitimate organization, such as your bank or a government agency, in an attempt to get you to click on a link or attachment. Usually, when you click on any links in phishing emails, it takes you to a malicious site that looks real, or malware will be installed on your computer or device. The goal is to get you to enter your personal or financial information like your bank account numbers or passwords so they can steal your money or commit identity theft.
Another common type of email scam is called spear phishing. Spear phishing is similar to a phishing scam, but the attacker targets a specific individual or organization. They do this by gathering information about their target beforehand so that they can make their phishing messages and emails look more legitimate. This makes it even harder to spot a spear-phishing attack!
7 Types of Email Scams you Must Watch Out for
Recently, with the rise in personal and SME cyber attacks (link to Article: How vulnerable are SMEs to cyber attacks?), email scams seem to be getting more and more sophisticated every year. In the rest of the article, we will discuss the 7 most common email scams that you should watch out for!
Email Scam #1: Business Email Compromise
A business email compromise (BEC) is when a malicious actor pretends to be a legitimate organisation and tries to get you to transfer money to their account. They may do this by sending an invoice or payment details that look real, or by spoofing an email from your boss or another senior employee. BEC scams are becoming more and more common, so it’s important to be extra vigilant when checking emails related to financial transactions.
Email Scam #2: The Nigerian Prince
You may have heard of the Nigerian Prince scam before. This is when someone emails you saying that they are a Nigerian prince (or other high-ranking individuals from another country) who needs help transferring money out of their country. They will then ask you to send them your personal and bank account details so that they can transfer the money to you. Of course, this is all a lie and they will simply steal your money if you fall for it!
Email Scam #3: Fake Lottery Win
In this scam, you’ll receive an email claiming that you’ve won a lottery or contest. The message may look like it’s from a legitimate organization, but it’s actually from a scammer trying to get your personal information or money. Usually, they will ask you to pay a processing fee or taxes in order to claim your prize, or they will direct you to a fake website that looks legitimate. They may also ask for your bank account information so they can “deposit” your winnings. To avoid this scam, don’t respond to any email messages that claim you’ve won a lottery or contest. Delete the message and don’t click on any links in the email.
Email Scam #4: Update Account Information
In this classic scam, you’ll receive an email claiming that you need to update your account information for a bank, credit card company, online payment service, or another site. The message looks like it’s from a legitimate organization, but it’s actually from a scammer trying to get your personal details (like your password or bank account information). They may even direct you to a fake website that looks legitimate. To avoid this scam, first check the sender’s email address to see if it originates from a legitimate site, and don’t click on any links in the email. Go to the website directly (by typing in the URL yourself) and update your information there if needed. If you’re not sure if the message is really from the organization, call their customer service and verify with them.
Email Scam #5: Dubious Job Offer
This scam is one where you receive an email with a job offer with flexible hours but high pay, usually for something that requires very little experience or training. The message looks legitimate, but it’s actually from a scammer who is trying to get your personal information (like your Social Security or Identification Card number) or money (by asking you to pay for training materials). To avoid this scam, don’t respond to job offers that come in via email.
Email Scam #6: The “I’m in love with you and want to marry you” Scam
In this scam, the scammers will pose as someone who has fallen in love with you and wants to marry you. They may even send you photos of themselves (which are probably stock or fake photos). These scammers are often located in other countries and will ask you for money to help them pay for a visa or other travel expenses. They may also ask you to send them money for medical expenses or other needs. If you send them money, you will likely never hear from them again.
Email Scam #7: The “I’m being persecuted by the government and need help” Scam
This scam is one of the more heart-wrenching email scams out there. The scammer will send you an email claiming to be a political dissident or refugee who is being persecuted by their government. They will say they need your help to escape and ask for money. They may even send you pictures or videos of themselves in distress. This scam preys on your empathy and can be very convincing. But before you send any money, make sure to do your research. Check the person’s story against news reports and see if there are any red flags.
In a Nutshell
These are just some of the most common email scams that you should be aware of. Keep these common email scams in mind the next time you check your inbox! And always remember to think before you click any suspicious links! If you receive any suspicious emails, be sure to report them to your IT department or the police immediately. If need be, don’t hesitate to contact a cybersecurity consulting firm for help. They would be happy to take a look and let you know if it’s a scam or not.