2023 is still young, but that does not mean the Scammers are easing into the new year. While some are new most are tried and true scams that work. Just use common sense and be skeptical of EVERY THING.
Wrong Number Texts
This is a scam where you get a seemingly innocuous wrong text. If you reply, the sender apologizes profusely and then tries to extend the conversation.
Also known as pig-butchering scams, the scammer aims to get the victims to deposit their funds into foreign exchange, gold trading, or fake cryptocurrency platforms.
Money Mule Requests
A money mule is when a person who, doing it either knowingly or unwittingly, allows a criminal to use their bank account to move stolen money. Some of the tactics scammers will use include:
Sending funds in error, which people are asked to return to a different bank account
Asking people to apply for credit cards on behalf of someone else
Convincing people to move money sent to their account (taking a cut) as a favor.
Signs that someone is attempting to use you as a mule include:
Being asked to open a new bank account in your own name or in the name of a company you form to receive and transfer money.
As an employee of a company, being asked to receive funds in the corporate bank account and then process or transfer funds via wire transfer, ACH, mail, or money service business (such as Western Union or MoneyGram).
Scammers often entice a victim by telling them they can keep a portion of the money they transfer.
Fake Financial Services Applications
Scammers are creating fake mobile apps that target legitimate bank and financial services accounts. These fake apps resemble legitimate apps but instead carry out malicious activities. In fact, they are often quite difficult to tell between the legitimate apps.
You should never install a financial app via an unsolicited link from an ad, email, or text. And the best way to avoid installing a fake app is to only download the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store. And even then, you still have to be cautious.
As cryptocurrencies gain popularity, people may fear missing out on investment opportunities. And for these people, scammers are waiting in the wings.
They often start by sending a message on Instagram about how they want to be your friend. It then leads to having them try to get you to invest in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, Dogecoin, Dai, and other cryptocurrencies on their platform.
As I wrote in Don’t buy a Rolex off the street, or cryptocurrency on Telegram, these platforms are entirely bogus. They make it seem like you are making significant profits. But when you try to withdraw your funds, they will forever go into radio silence.
While the messaging starts on Instagram and Facebook, scammers ask to move the conversation to Telegram, WhatsApp, and Signal. The reason is that their Instagram profile will be deleted as people complain. But they need those worries with Telegram, WhatsApp, or Signal.
As we head into tax season, IRS scams will start again. Tax scammers use surprise, stress, and fear to their advantage. The antidote to that is to stay calm and use common sense.
The IRS will rarely call you to initiate something, and the IRS will certainly not call you out of the blue. If it’s legitimate, you will have gotten previous notices in the mail.
The scammers say they are from the IRS, and you have an immediate balance due. But the only way to pay is by sending them gift cards or wire transfers.
Another IRS scam is around tax refund recalculations. The scammers will contact you by email or text, saying that the IRS has recalculated your tax refund and that you are due more money. The email they send will ask you to click on a link to process it.
When you do, you’ll be taken to a web page that asks for your SSN, driver’s license number, and other information. If you provide this information, scammers will use it to access your online bank and credit card accounts or apply for credit cards and loans in your name.
Using LinkedIn as an Introduction Platform
Until recently, LinkedIn was all business. Facebook and Instagram were the go-to platforms for those who wanted to share cat pictures. Scammers always take advantage of every opportunity and use LinkedIn as a platform to launch their scams.
There are many reasons for this. But mainly due to LinkedIn users not always having their antennas up to be aware of scams. And below are two examples of LinkedIn scam introductions I got within the last week.
A red flag to identify LinkedIn and other platform scammers is their request to move the conversation to WhatsApp or Signal, as Ashly requested. Since they are obvious scammers, their profiles are highly likely to be deleted by LinkedIn. So by moving the conversation to a messaging platform, they can continue the scam.
How to Avoid Being a Scam Victim
The best way to avoid being a scam victim is to be skeptical with every phone call, email, and text message. Do not respond or press a button if you suspect a spam call. The safest option is to hang up or ignore the call entirely. You can always look up the organization and initiate a call yourself if you’re worried there may be an issue.
But the most important thing to realize is that your phone email box is a scammer’s best friend. Be skeptical of every unknown call or text, and treat them as scammers until you definitively know otherwise. Do that, and you won’t be a victim.