So, you go looking for an apartment online, only to find one way cheaper than similar options in the area and the seller wants you to pay upfront before you can see the apartment. There is a high chance the person advertising that apartment is thousands of miles away and has no idea of what that apartment looks like. These guys are only called Nigerian 419 because these types of scams were initially associated with Nigerians until the country set up the law known as Section 419 which prohibits getting money through online scams. Online scammers can come from anywhere though, and their methods have advanced from the typical rich damsel in distress asking to transfer big money to your account and escape from the violence in their home country to come live with you.
Nowadays, you will get an email from the IRA that promises to clear all your debts or an email from PayPal, Facebook or even WhatsApp telling you that your password has been compromised and that you need to change it but the source is not really that company. In some cases, someone will come telling you they want to buy what you are selling on Craigslist or anywhere else online but that deal will get sweeter than you could ever hope for. There are millions of these tricks but you can always sense that something is fishy when talking to these scammers as the deal always gets too sweet. With these 10 tricks, you will prevent them from hurting you.
Suggest A Different Way To Transfer Money
Some scammers just try to get your private information such as passwords, banking information and SSN but most of them will try to get you to send them money one way or another. This money is always needed right away and needed via some shady PayPal account, Bitcoin or Western Union. MoneyGram has been hard on them so it is not their preferred option but some may still use it.
So, when a scammer tells you one way to send money to them, suggest a different method, preferably one that only accepts local transfers only such as Venmo or one with more accountability such as a direct wire transfer from your bank because most of them will have lied to you about their country of origin, but can’t change the destination of the money. As your preferred method of transfer gets stricter, the scammer will get defensive and you can make your judgements from there.
Keep Them Talking
Scammers try to be as convincing as possible in the shortest time possible because the one thing they don’t have is time. They try to get you to fill in your info or send them money or a gift card as soon as possible so they can cash in and move on to their next victim. To them, you are just business and most of them are usually reading from a script while talking to you so they won’t be prepared for a pep talk.
When you feel the person asking for your money online is not legit, just ask a lot more questions and get as personal as possible. Ask them about where they are depending on what they told you, what could or should be happening there at that moment and other questions that will definitely throw them off track. When you ask them to send you a selfie of themselves or a video, they will get defensive. In most cases, when you keep talking, they will get thrown off track and you will detect an accent or terrible grammar and agitation that will be more than enough red flag for you.
Time is one natural weapon that mother nature has given you against scammers. You can ask your “good friend” what the time is where they say they are from and just go online and check what Google satellite tells you about the exact time at that place. If they delay telling you the time, you can deduce that they are searching online, or in most cases, you will throw them off balance. Most scammers don’t change the time zones on their devices either, so if you get them to send a screenshot of their computer or phone screens, you will see a time very different from that of their said location. Better still, you can fetch their IP address and it will come with that information but we will discuss that below.
Ask For Documents And Verify The Information
Scammers are liars so most documents they send you are just falsified templates and photoshops they make online. Their documents tend to have lots of inconsistencies. The most common ones are addresses which you can search via google and verify. You will discover that they just search online and for something such as pet stores, pick the addresses and put them on their documents.
Other things such as phone numbers will either be disconnected or Google voice numbers. Some will be outright impossible such as +1-000-000000 as fax number or something that bogus. They pick most of the information they send from random places online so it won’t be that hard to reverse search and find it to be inconsistent.
Do a Google Reverse Image Search
Most online scammers create fake social media profiles and try to make them look legit by getting fake followers on Instagram, fake product reviewers or ghost Facebook friends. On Facebook, you will realize that most of the accounts hardly have any friends and they have hardly lasted there. The catch is always the image which is always stolen from someone somewhere and used on multiple similar fake profiles.
Videos they send you will probably be fetched from some website somewhere as well and Google can always take you back there. A Simple reverse google image search will show you similar images as the one you are dealing with. You will then discover that your scammer’s profile image belongs to another person. Even videos and documents scammers send you will have been stolen somewhere and a reverse search will show you just where your scammer stole them from.
Scammers will always ask for money from you, whether it is the fee for transferring your millions in winnings from lotto or the fee for a package you didn’t order on USPS. The one thing the scammer doesn’t know is your financial situation, but they are only looking to score anything from you so they will always fall for the haggler.
If you say you can only afford a lower amount, sometimes ridiculously lower, they will still ask you to pay and they will “pay the rest for you” which you can see as total nonsense. As you go back and forth on the amounts you are needed to pay, you will sense emotions rising too. Now, official organizations and government institutes have fixed rates and fees for services, so haggling is never an option, and they don’t get angry when you can’t afford something.
Give False Information
So you get an email from “The IRS,” asking you to verify your information because your accounts have been associated with criminal activity and you may go to prison. In real sense, that form is just fetching your data for some dark web database, while the so-called fees to clear your name will end up in some scammer’s bitcoin wallet. Scammers don’t know you that well. The best they have is probably just your email or phone number that they bought on the dark web or other sources after a hack or a breach somewhere.
They are also eager to earn money, so that, “we will verify your details,” is not really happening. They are either stealing your information or just stalling before they come back with their actual catch to ask for money. A legit website with a database linked to your information will tell you when you have entered the wrong information and give you the chance to do it right. Scammers will just fall for it and you can use it to out them.
Ask For A Video Chat
Of course, a scammer doesn’t want you to see their face as they scam you from some dark room in Nigeria or some call center in Delhi, so a video call in never an option for them. Even Sextotionists will send you revealing photos of random people from porn sites or some dark-web sources because they don’t want their real photos and information out there.
When you ask for a video call, they may tell you to wait then come up with some excuse or always bring an event up that makes it impossible for you to talk to them on video. In the worst case, they will give you a video call with the camera pointed at a screen where another person and not themselves are speaking. They may send you a video in which everything seems out of place probably stolen somewhere online. You can always reverse search it on Google to verify.
Get Their IP Address
This may sound like some difficult hacking job but it actually isn’t. You can just fool your scammer into clicking on a link by claiming it is to another website with similar products, some profile of you or just anything close to the direction your scam is taking. All you have to do is get a redirect URL from IP tracking sites such as Grabify or opentracker and embed it under the link you are sending the scammer. If they click on the link, you will know their location, time zone and even the device they are using. That way, you will know that your scammer is nowhere near where they claim to be.
Playing dumb when chatting or calling is the one thing every scammer will fall for. So, once you realize that you don’t trust someone that is presenting you with that deal that is too good to be true, all you have to do is play along until you realize what their catch actually is. Once they ask you for the money, all you have to do is stall them. Ask the questions any sane person would ask but only make them harder and then delay as long as you can even after pretending to agree to what they want you to do.
The thing with these scammers is that they can’t wait to get deals done, so they will get frantic when the money doesn’t seem to be hitting the other end. You will notice your alleged online lover or helpful agent getting frantic and desperate all of a sudden and that is when they start making mistakes. No real professionals are so desperate to get money from you, you will just see it.