There’s a new evolution in Internet con artistry, and it’s putting everyone at risk. In the past few years, “spear-phishing” has risen to become one of the biggest trends in online scamming.Check out the four new and scary ways con artists are getting their money on the Internet, and real-life examples of how they work. A play on the hacking technique “phishing,” spear-phishing is a technique that con artists use to specifically target individuals or companies and gain access to information or bank accounts.This method has also become the tactic du jour for cyber criminals interested in attacking big business or government officials.
Now, security experts are seeing disturbing trends among scammers that make the old schemes appear to be child’s play.
Appealing to the emotional pull of a victim is now just part of the scheme, which now includes familiarity dupes and long-term schemes to raid a bank account.
These cons are more targeted, more ruthless and can take out even large corporations and entire governmental programs.
It’s a boilerplate opening for one of the most common scams in the known world — the Nigerian scam, also known as the “419 scam” or the advance fee scheme.
The elements are always the same: someone (preferably royalty or some sort of official) has come into a lot of money, but needs another person outside of the country to use their money for a bribe (or to pay legal fees among other means) to spring the money free.
The result is also predictable, with a wire transfer to a con artist’s account and a fake check that confirms a scam has taken place.
This scam is a hallmark of the Internet, but it’s actually much older than that — the advance fee scheme in its modern incarnation dates back to the early 1980s, and various forms can be traced back to before the 20th century.
The reason that it sticks around, unsurprisingly, is because it never ceases to swindle millions of dollars from duped victims.
The scheme, and many others like it continue to flood inboxes daily, often hitting the Spam folder before you ever lay eyes on it, waiting for a more trusting person to make a trip to the Western Union.
But that’s not to say that Internet scammers are resting on their laurels and leaving their dirty work to these classic methods.
As Internet users become more sophisticated (and laugh at the advances of the forlorn Nigerian prince or similarly befallen individual), the chances of finding a willing innocent victim slowly dwindles.