Spam emails are very annoying. These email scams flood your inbox by the thousands, and they can be quite dangerous for some people.
While some spam emails are nothing more than just newsletters from sites that you “accidentally” subscribed to, some of these emails are very notorious, and they can cost you a lot of money. These are what I’d like to call “email scams”
Sadly, many people fall victim to these email scams because they didn’t know anything about it. In 2013 alone, citizens in the USA lost a total of $13 billion dollars because of the Lotto scam. In 2009, UK citizens lost around $9 billion.
So what are these email scams that continue to find their way into our inbox?
Phishing emails and phony web pages
Phishing is probably the most widespread internet and email scam today. It’s a con game that keeps on playing because people continue to fall victim to it. behind these phishing emails or sites are hackers.
Phishing is a form of digital thievery where the thieves will lure you into divulging your PIN, password, and other info connected to your credit card and/or bank account. These thieves are too creative. They will, and can, replicate a bank’s official website to make it look like their own – even buy their own domain for it – to trick you into logging on to the said bank’s fake site.
For example, the official bank site could be this: www.officialbank.com but the phishing site could make a domain like www.official-bank.com. It’s difficult to notice the difference if you’re new to online banking.
Now, to make matters interesting, the thieves will also send you an email that will “ask you to verify your identity” via the “official bank’s” email – again. In the email, you’ll find a link to their made-up website and here you’ll be asked to input your sensitive information like answers to your security questions, your password, and even your birthday.
Once that’s all done, the thieves will drain your bank account and flee.
Phishing, like most of the scams to be discussed in this article, depend on the legitimacy of the email and the web pages.
Small tip: the beginning of the link address of a secure website is HTTPS://. Phishing fakes will only have the HTTP:// prefix.
Lottery scam emails
We dream about hitting it big in the lotto. Get the 8-figure jackpot and you, your children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren would probably be set for life. You can retire to a quaint little island in the Pacific, flying in on a chartered jet.
This is where the lottery scam, which is the meanest of them all, will come to prey on those who are gullible enough to believe it.
The lottery scam requires just one simple email – an email about you winning millions of dollars through repeated congratulatory emails because the urgency of you claiming the price is their hook.
Here’s the catch for this scam: before you can collect your WINNINGS, you must pay a processing fee of, say, three thousand dollars.
What’s a few thousand dollars to a few million, right? This is their line.
Then once the bad guys get your money, it’s over. You’ve just been conned into giving another person $3000.
Advanced fees paid for a guaranteed loan or credit card email scams
A pre-approved credit card or loan is just like the lottery scam. It’s almost always too good to be true. Most of the time, careful people would ask “why would a bank do that?”
It’s already an obvious scam the moment you read “pre-approved” right?
Reputable bank and credit card companies have their annual fees, but this is applied to the balance of the card – not an upfront fee or a sign-up fee.
More on these pre-approved loans for half-million mortgages: you will be asked to pay an up-front fee and sadly, one in every thousand people will fall for this scam because the offer is just too amazing to pass up.
Items for sale overpayment email scams
This involves an item that you might have listed for sale, like a car or a truck. The scammer finds your ad and sends you an email. He’ll offer to pay more than your asking price because of international shipping fees and other factors. In return, you are to send him the car and the cash for the difference.
The money order you’ll receive looks so real, so you deposit it into your bank account.
In a couple of days, or the time it takes to clear, the bank notifies you that the money order was fake and that you pay back the amount immediately.
The money order does look like an authentic document, according to the documented versions of the reported scam, but it was never authorized by the bank they stole it from. Cashier’s checks are often convincing forgeries. You not only lost your car, but you lost a lot of money, and you owe the bank a large sum of money to cover the bad money order.
Employment search overpayment email scams
This one is probably the least common of them all, but it does some serious damage. It starts with you posting your resume online – along with at least one form of personal data accessible by potential employers like an email address or a contact number.
You then receive a job offer to be a “financial representative” of an overseas company you never heard of before. The reason they’re hiring you is that they have problems accepting money from US customers and they want you to handle those payments. In exchange for handling, you’ll be given 5 to 15% commission per transaction.
Again, it sounds too good to be true!
Once you apply, you will provide your employer/scammer with personal data like your bank account information. This makes them look legit so you’re not worried they’ll ditch you.
But they will.
In some cases, other malicious acts take place with the employment scam, such as:
- identity theft,
- money stolen from your account, or
- receiving fake checks or money orders for payments which you deposit into your account but must send 85 – 95 percent of that to your “employer”.
Fall for this, and soon, you will owe your bank so much money!
Disaster relief email scams
Don’t you just hate it when people take advantage of a bad situation? Disaster relief scams are the worst of the worst because they’re capitalizing on tragedy and disaster.
Disaster relief scams come in the form of emails asking for donations. This could be either a person who doesn’t want to give away all the donations or another form of phishing.
Travel scam emails
These scams are active during the summer months. It starts out with an email to get these low fares to an exotic destination but you need to book the offer today before it expires. If you call, you’ll find the travel is free but the hotel rates are expensive.
The travel scams vary in rates – with plane tickets hitting rock-bottom prices, but they hide certain fees that only surface after YOU SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE.
Another variation is before the scammers give you “the free” item, you’ll be required to sit in at a timeshare pitch at the destination. Harmless it may be, but you just wasted your time.
Others running this scam can also just take your money and deliver nothing.
What makes this scam a pain in the rear is that the refund is impossible to get. Your best bet is to book your travels in person or go to a reputable site like Expedia or Travelocity.
“Make Money Fast” chain emails
This one is a mixture of modern and ancient forms of scamming – the pyramid scheme. You will get an email with a list of names and then you’ll add your own name to the bottom of the list and forward it to a number of people. The author of the email explains that if more people join the chain, you’ll become a millionaire when it’s your turn to receive the money.
In most cases, the list of names is manipulated in such a way that the creator of the email – the scammer – maintains his or her name at the top PERMANENTLY.
The email version is just as illegal as the snail mail version. If you choose to participate, you might be arrested for fraud. This is something you don’t want on your resume.
“Turn Your Computer Into a Money-Making Machine!”
This may not exactly be a full blown scam, but this scheme works like this anyway:
You send money to someone for instructions on where to go and what to download and install so you can turn your computer into a money-making machine.
The only problem here is that your computer will be turned into a machine for spammers.
At sign up, you get a unique ID and you give them your PayPal account information for the “big money deposits” that they promise you. The program you are supposed to run opens multiple ad windows repeatedly, generating per-click revenue for spammers.
Your ID is supposed to be limited to a certain number of page clicks, but since the spammers will ask you to download a software that hides your IP under a proxy, your PC will be making more clicks.
The bottom line
These are just some of the most well-known and most ludicrous scam emails that have proven themselves to be as harmful as they are mean. One can never blame the victim for falling for them either.