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internet scams

Internet scams

The Net is a tool that offers great advantages, including the rapid acquisition and diffusion of knowledge and the possibility of keeping in constant contact and communication. However, there is the possibility of incurring scams, which are increasingly sophisticated, dangerous and difficult to recognize.

According to recent investigations, half of Italians fear that they will fall into the trap of hoaxes that hide viruses or unknowingly activate dialers that creep into the computer through an auto-installation mechanism.

The people most affected by the scam are the youngest, aged between 18 and 32 years


Recognizing scams on the internet: the decalogue released by Codacons

Codacons has issued a decalogue including simple but important rules to follow in order to recognize and defend against scammers, with particular attention to scams that are spread by email.

  • 1 Avoid sharing your email address by posting messages on blog, forums and other websites.
  • 2 Avoid using your email to sign up for suspicious or little-known websites.
  • 3 Use, for strictly personal communications or communications deemed important, only certified mail services, such as Yahoo Mail and Gmail.
  • 4 If you want to send an email to multiple recipients, enter the clear but hidden names in the appropriate field with CCN mode.
  • 5 Do not reply to emails that the mail service inserts in the Spam box and never click on pop-ups displayed when the received email is opened.
  • 6 Install a valid antivirus and periodically scan for viruses.
  • 7 Surfing websites with a secure connection.
  • 8 Do not enter your personal data on request if the open site is not completely reliable.


Recognizing scams on the internet: the most common and dangerous scams

But what are the main types of scams we can run into while surfing the internet?

Fraudsters leverage people's needs such as the need to find work.

The most popular online scams, alongside pishing, scam emails and bogus messages on Whatsapp, even fake job advertisements and sentimental scams.


How to recognize scam emails

Among the clues that must immediately make us suspect we find first of all the foreign sender (American, Chinese, African) and the subject of the email (winnings of money, notice of blocking of the mail account or bank account etc.).

In the event that the suspicious email contains attachments, never download the document; it could be phishing or malware attempts to steal pc files.


The risks of whatsapp

On Facebook page "A social life" the Postal Police has made known some of the frauds that can occur during the use of the famous instant messaging app.

  • "WhatsApp has expired" or "your subscription is about to expire".
    As the Postal Police explains, the message requires the user to enter their phone number. He will activate a subscription costing 20 euros to a mobile wallpaper application.
    After receiving one of the two messages, you must not answer and turn off and restart the mobile phone immediately.


  • "WhatsApp Gold".
    In this case, the bogus message reads: “Hey, the secret version of WhatsApp has finally arrived. This version - the Gold - is used only by big celebrities. Now you can use it too. "
    In fact, once installed in the mobile phone, it allows scammers to control the device.


  • Audio message does not exist.
    It can happen that during the use of Whatsapp a message arrives announcing the presence in the answering machine of an audio note. Rigurda a malware that allows scammers to check the apps installed on the device and acquire photos and then blackmail the user.


  • "Download the new emoticons."
    In reality, the message is only an access route used by scammers to install viruses on the device. The Postal Police warns that any emoticon updates are never reported through messages in the app.
  • The Postal Police also reminds that it is advisable not to open the links inserted in text messages received both on WhatsApp and on other instant messaging apps or social networks.


Internet scams: fake job advertisements

Fraudsters use recognized sites or social networks, such as Linkedin, deemed equally reliable, to publish and disseminate advertisements containing fake job offers. The aim is to obtain large-scale payments.

After obtaining the transfer, presented to the victims as necessary to obtain the much desired job, the scammers also request the bank details, so that the victims suffer identity theft.

To recognize this type of scam it is necessary to keep in mind the characteristics of a serious job offer:

  • The sender of the job offer is usually not a single individual, but a company, which presents itself with an identity made well recognizable by information such as name, location, company name, VAT number and company email address.
  • A serious job advertisement contains all the information on the type of job offered; therefore you should be wary of generic messages such as those that say "if you want to earn money contact me" or "write me for information".
  • A job announcement that is not bogus will never present the request for payment of the material necessary to start the work.



The sentimental scam through the internet

Among the sentimental scams, the channel used in this case is, in most cases, Facebook.

After assuming the identity of a gentleman, the scammer contacts the female profiles on the social network and, after a tight courtship, pretends to need money to get out of a serious inconvenience occurred in some foreign country.

The scammer sends photocopied documents on other profiles on the site to the unfortunate and scams video calls on Skype with special software.

Once the requested sum has been received, he will ask for it again or terminate any relationship with the victim. According to an FBI report, in 2011 the sentimental scam led to debt of about 10,000 women, mostly between the ages of 40 and 60.

It is useful to know that in Italy Jolanda Bonino has founded an association with the aim of helping the victims of this type of online scam.
The Marie Anne Erize Anti-Violence Center, present in Rome, has released a real guide to recognize the sentimental scam.

It is essential to "study" the suitor's Facebook page: among the first warning signs, the very low number of friends, total absence of personal data, and the rarity of updates on the page. To specific questions, the character will always answer vaguely and inaccurately and provide bogus phone numbers, which usually begin with the prefix +4470.

Facebook also offers an additional tool to investigate the character: by clicking with the right mouse button on the profile photo, you can search for the image on Google and find out if it has been copied from other websites.

The criminal's identikit is quite recognizable: scammers usually present themselves as middle-aged widowed men, successful managers shot down for the sadness of their love life and in search of their soul mate.


Recognizing scams on the internet: the tools offered by the PS Online Commissariat

It is important, in the event that you believe you have identified or be the victim of a scam on the internet, immediately contact the Postal Police station, present on the net with a website and a Facebook page.
The place, managed by technicians and investigators, it contains three main areas:

  • informed (news and updates in real time on scams on the net, information on dangerous software and advice)
  • question (section for immediate contact with the Postal Police if you believe you are in the presence of a scam or computer crime)
  • Collaborate (section dedicated to reporting and reporting of electronic crimes).

In official Facebook page of the PS Online Commissariat - Italy it is possible to be constantly updated on online crimes and scams.

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