Online Scams: Too good to be true


Online scams are on the rise. Though most of us now have antivirus and spam filters, internet fraudsters with new strategies continue to trick unsuspecting victims into throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But it's not just the email from the Nigerian Prince with poor grammar you need to be wary of. Some scammers will invest significant effort (and at times, real money) to create the illusion of credibility and authenticity.

On top of money, many invest time and effort establishing emotional bonds with victims who become unable to realise that they are being scammed.

Sadly mainly vulnerable groups including those with emotional issues, credit troubles or elderly are targeted with these tactics.

These are the main types of online scams:

  1. Phishing scams – victims are lured into trusting the scammer or the scammers ‘secure’ forms to disclose personal information such as bank account or credit card details.
  2. Advance fee fraud – victims pay a small fee up front for something that never arrives.
  3. Investment fraud – victims invited to take part in a (fake) secret or emerging market and are invited to pay for shares that are promised to pay high returns.
  4. Ponzi Schemes – victims pay money to the scammers who use the money to pay earlier investors to give the illusion (and real testimonial) that the scheme is successful.
  5. Romance scams – victims pay money to people posing as offshore attractive potential spouses offering a promise of future companionship (often to secure travel or visa costs).

Sadly, the advise we often give our clients is that the chances of recovering a victim’s money from an online scam is remote.

The best protection is to be vigilant and to refrain from giving out personal information online (especially not bank account or password details) unless it is to a verified and trusted source.  Anyone reputable will allow you to ring them!

If an unsolicited email makes it through your spam filter and falls within one of the categories above, even if it looks like it is from the IRD or your bank – send it to the trash.

If you have any queries or require advice in relation to an email scam or issues regarding privacy of your information, we would be happy to speak with you about your legal options.

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Copyright © Cavell Leitch. All rights reserved. Redistribution is only permitted with express written permission. For enquiries please contact us. This article by its nature cannot be comprehensive and cannot be relied on by clients as advice. It is provided to assist clients to identify legal issues on which they should seek legal advice. Please consult the professional staff of Cavell Leitch for advice specific to your situation.