Common online scams used by online criminals and fraudsters (Part 2)

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In our previous post, we shared some common scams related to Banking, financial services, and Investment type fraud. We will share more insights on other economic-related Fraud that targets job seekers,  Immigrants, Tourists, and social media users.  There are fraudsters taking advantage of the economic situation to offer non-existing opportunities to people looking for greener pastures within and outside Nigeria, they promise well-paying joys for a fee. Have you been approached by Opportunity fraudsters? Here are things to look out for:

Job offer scam
There are many people who fall victims to job scams. You get an SMS inviting you for an interview for a job you didn’t apply for. Next, they ask you to pay a fee to help you secure an opportunity, be wary when you get such request. It is time to start reporting and blacklisting such organisations. There are also those conducted through professional networking sites like LinkedIn. The fraudster starts a conversation claiming to headhunt from a seemingly reputable company. You pay an administrative fee and you get blocked after payment. There is a recent case of someone who was offered a job and the company asked him to pay some money to book his flight ticket. This job seeker fell for the scam, I still don’t understand how a prospective employer will ask me to pay some money for them to help me book a flight ticket when I can go online myself. Another type of job-related scam asks unsuspecting victims to pay money to secure international jobs in the USA, UK, Europe, and the UAE. Fraudulent Travel agents have made a fortune ripping off desperate migrants. My inbox is filled with such people asking for help to recall such transactions. Please read, be cautious with too good to be true international job opportunities.

Impersonation scam
These set of fraudsters create multiple social media accounts especially facebook and Instagram and create an exact replica of your public profile while the sophisticated ones simply hijack your account. They then reach your family, friends and associates and request for funds. Some even broadcast malware with your account. Please report such account, also be mindful of people who solicit for funds through social media direct message. Another type of impersonation scam are those who call you with an unknown number or system generated numbers, they call and ask to guess who is calling, once you mention a name, they pretend to be the person and claim to have sent a gift through someone visiting Nigeria or a postal agency. You may need to pay some money before the parcel is delivered. Once you pay, you will be blocked. I have received several calls like this, most times I just play along. The first time it happened was in 2004 when camera phones became popular, the person impersonated my friend and claimed he just sent me a phone and some dollars. The middleman bringing the phone latter asked me to transfer 5,000 naira call credit, he was stranded. As I was about to send the credit I called my friend’s Nigerian Number and he said he didn’t send any gift to me lol. Be mindful of such phone impersonator.

Visa and Work permit Scam
You will be shocked by the number of people who have fallen victim of visa scam. Since the exodus to Canada started many people now provide Canadian Express Entry service. Before the US stopped Nigerians from participating in the Visa lottery program these fraudsters made a fortune from offering fake visas to simply making away with people’s money. Now the new wave of “migration scammers” target Medical doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. The offer fake medical certifications and promise jobs and visas I have seen cases of people who attended fake exams without knowing. If you are interested in international migration simply check the website of the Countries or visit the embassies for details of the process. My thinking is that most who easily find these fraudsters appealing are people who do not meet the eligibility requirement for the Visa categories. There are even fake agents who are BOLD enough to give people fake visas. These type of scam can get you in big trouble as you may not find out you’ve been scammed until you arrive at the airport and the immigration at your destination detects the fraud.

Holiday Package/ Air Ticket scams
It is so easy to fall for a well-designed travel agency website. Some people buy air tickets, accommodation, and a vacation package online. Holiday Fraudsters often promise cheap packages and they send you a private account or you pay cash. Always insist on paying to a corporate account, because it may be difficult to trace funds sent to a Mobile Money wallet because a BVN is not required to open this account. When an agent claims to do a reservation, simply call the hotel up to confirm your booking to avoid getting to your destination only to discover you have been scammed.

For me, I am team DIY, I do most of my bookings myself but at the same time, I understand that some people may prefer to pay for the hassle involved in planning a holiday, local or international trip. Try to do proper due diligence on the travel company before making a payment also remember “awoof” they run belle, be care full of very cheap packages they come with hidden charges. I once saw a travel agent in the UK post a very cheap ticket, I jumped at it and transferred the money immediately, by the time I paid and asked for my ticket, I called and was told the ticket has gone up by almost 400 Pounds. I asked for a refund and I was told it attracts a cancelation fee of 50 pounds.

I simply sent a letter threatening a lawsuit and asked them to cover the cost of my post. They quickly transferred the money back to me, It is possible there are agents who get away with such fraudulent practice in Nigeria. Another travel fraudsters are those who promise free or discounted vacation. Typically they post a fake promo on Facebook or Instagram promising all expense paid vacation package or discounted tickets. You will be asked to pay a small fee (advanced fee fraud) and they block you after receiving your payment. Some ask you to enter your bank card details which they use to access your account.

Online dating, romance scams, and Sextortion
With the proliferation of social media platforms, online dating has become popular. While some have been successful with “love”, many have burnt their fingers. Some “invest” in a relation sending money and even doing business with people they meet online thinking they are in a genuine relationship. There are many fake accounts on online dating sites, some pretending to be abroad. There are those who ask unsuspecting partners to send money to their relatives in Nigeria and promise to reimburse them when they visit. There are also those who pose as someone else and use fake profiles, this type of internet activity is called catfishing. There are also those who take social media fraud a notch further using blackmail and extortion. The victims of sextortion are typically lured into share private photos and videos, they then ask the victim to pay a huge sum of money to prevent the photos or videos from being leaked.

There are many ways fraudsters manipulate people to buy into their scheme, be mindful of offers that are too good to be true and protect your personal information. Also, be mindful of the information you share publicly. Lately, I have found people asking supposedly “fun questions” on facebook groups and you unsuspectingly give out information that could potentially be your secret questions. I don’t encourage people participating in such lousy games, you unknowing give out information that could be used to unlock your access to email and payment applications.

Lastly, if you are a victim of financial fraud, report to the Fraud Desk of your Bank, you may be able to recall your money and also get the Bank to watchlist fraudulent customers. The Banks can also report such fraudulent account to the EFCC and other law enforcement agents. You can also file a petition to the EFFC to investigate a case of financial crime.

Have you been defrauded by “Opportunity Fraudsters”? Please share you experience and questions in the comment section or email admin@citizensconnect.ng

 

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