Scams aren’t new and one of the first is attributed to Hegestratos in ancient Greece when he attempted to sink his own cargo ship for the insurance, apparently he was caught in the act and drowned attempting his escape.
Three card monte or find the lady was common place in the middle 19th century and if I may fast forward to the 1990’s and the prolific Nigerian Prince scams I can get to the point dear reader.
If I use a knife to cut onions the likely outcomes are teary eyes, maybe a nick on my finger and sliced onions, if I use the same knife to undo a plug socket the outcome could be far more serious. The internet, social media and email are amoral tools, it is their usage that defines the outcome so let’s not throw away the baby with the bathwater.
My aim is to provide some tips and hints about how to spot common scams. I’ll concentrate on emails, if someone knocks on your door and offers you a gold watch for 5€ I think you’ll handle that yourself. I don’t claim these tips are foolproof or comprehensive and if you wish to ‘put me right’ feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Invest in some protection, no not that kind of protection, most anti-virus software offers some anti-spam element. There are good free programs out there but considering what falling for a single scam could cost you I’d recommend paying for one – ask your PC person or look at reviews online.
When you receive an email that you’re not sure about check the ‘from’ address, even if it looks normal hover your mouse over it or right click on it – if the email claims to be from your bank it won’t be from email@example.com.
Think about the content of the email for a minute, does it make sense? A lot of scam emails will have poor grammer and spilling.
If there are links in the email just hover over them, generally you’ll see the actual link target shows at the bottom of your screen along the lines of this image.
Unless you are 100% certain what any attachment to an email is DO NOT open it, again your anti-virus software should be helping here. If you do open it and you’re computer then asks for permission to continue say no unless you understand what’s happening.
Two final points, if you didn’t buy a ticket for the Mexican lottery you probably haven’t won it and mistaking a legitimate email for a scam is not going to be anywhere near as dangerous as mistaking a scam as legitimate.