The history of mankind has over the years been made better by the advances in science and technology. These innovations and scientific developments have improved the standard of life for the everyday man through the provision and dissemination of vital life saving and personal improvement information.
The internet (worldwide web) in particular can without doubt be described as one of the greatest innovations to shape the fate of mankind. However, like all human innovation and inventions, the internet has become a tool used by criminals to cheat, defraud and deceive other unsuspecting users. This is the crux of this piece. The media around the world is awash with stories of scams particularly those in which Nigerians have ripped foreigner of their monies.
This raises questions such as; why has this become so prevalent? What can be done to curb this wave of criminal insanity and ridicule of the good name of the country? However, this piece will dwell on how to tell a scam email, what to do when you receive a scam email and how to avoid becoming a victim of scam emails allegedly known as “The Nigerian Crime”. – A slandering tag that has become a source of embarrassment for all honest and hardworking Nigerians home and abroad.
This is the premise upon which I have decided to pen down this “shine your eye” piece. This essay will discuss the matter in a few sub headings; most common scams, how to tell a scam
Most Common scams;
The internet is a honey pot of information. No hyperbole. Often described as one of mankind’s greatest innovations yet, it is versatile, indispensable, invaluable and useful. It is almost impossible to do anything these days without the internet from banking, teaching, medicine, business to mention a few. The lives of the millions of users of the internet depend on it to carry out these day to day activities which require users to access validate, exchange information and personal details each day.
This unfortunately also makes it a veritable tool for criminals. Many users are required to produce their personal and financial details such credit and debit cards while accessing certain websites while carrying out transactions on the internet.
This in turn is preyed upon the cyber criminals who spent hours daily phishing out the personal details of unsuspecting internet users. Very often the criminals successfully hack these databases and steal such information which is used to steal the victim’s money, identity or other vital information.This means in fact that the largest proportion of cybercrimes is monetary and identity theft using information posted on the internet by users themselves.
A good example at the moment is the widespread Interswitch Nigeria scam emails asking people to supply their debit information with passwords and personal details. My dear reader, truth is neither Interswitch Nigeria nor ANY BANK, by law, has the RIGHT WHATSOEVER to ask customers for their details and WILL NOT REQUEST IT.
Therefore anyone or group requesting this kind of information especially via email is a sham, so BEWARE!!!. Be also advised that the scammers are also improving day by day. It has been reported that scammers now design and host “clone” websites i.e. sites that look identical to certain service credit or debit card companies, which they use to steal the pins and information of unsuspecting people.
Again the victim is the interswitchng.com website which was recently discovered has been “cloned” by scammers. Other examples of scams are; the Greencard/Diversity Visa Lottery, Money Lottery scams, job opportunities scams. These scams in particular are the most popular. They are usually sent via emails to a large number of people regularly and are perpetuated by new entrants into the business.
How to tell a Scam;
Like all criminals, scammers leave behind footprints in their trail. Some of these are easily discernable while others are more difficult to point out. One of the easiest ways to tell a scam is from the email address of the sender. This is one mistake most, if not all email scammers make. For instance, scammers parading themselves as genuine staffs of multinationals often send out emails with email addresses using yahoo.fr, yahoo.co.uk, hotmail.com, gmail domains.
First thing any keen observer will notice is that large firms (even in Nigeria) have their own customized email/email domain/services, hence will NEVER, for credibility and authenticity sake, use emails address from a domain like yahoo or gmail etc.
Secondly, such emails, if truly sent from the firm concerned, will never be copied to anyone else, since such firms treat such official dispatches with utmost confidentiality.
Thirdly, the email addresses used by scammers cannot be replied to. This means that victims of the scammers cannot reply to the scammer who is in fact parading his/her firm as a genuine company. This in fact a sign that such an email is a scam, because large firms treat customer responses with utmost importance and unless otherwise stated, the customers can/should be able to reply or air their grievances and or concerns to the firm.
Another easy way to spot a scam is the diction of the scammer. One characteristic feature of these emails is that they are usually frothing with a myriad of unimaginable grammatical errors which can easily be spotted from the onset by a keen observer.
This is rather strange for a standard business letter of the caliber the scammers will have you believe their emails are. This arises from the fact most of these email scams are usually coined up by persons with a poor command of written and spoken English in internet cafes around big cities.