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What to Do if You’ve Been Scammed Online?

On a quiet Sunday afternoon, Alex (Alias) was chatting with his new online friend. For the past few weeks, he has spent many hours with his online connection, engaging in conversations, sharing personal stories, hobbies, and interests, and building a solid connection.

However, his new friend suddenly started sharing investment recommendations out of the blue, which seemed pretty odd to Alex. She also started asking about Alex’s financial situation, which also started to raise some red flags.

If you’ve spent some time online these days, chances are you have faced a similar incident yourself. While most people become suspicious of such behavior, unfortunately, many people fail to see the red flags in the nick of time. In fact, a report from the Better Business Bureau shows that 86% of American scam victims were victims of online scams, with many of them losing their money for good.

17 WAYS HIGH NET WORTH INDIVIDUALS ARE BEING HACKED & HOW TO BE SAFE

So, what should you do when you've been scammed online? In this comprehensive guide, we'll share some crucial tips on how to spot an online scam, some common online scams, and their impacts, and what to do if you’ve been scammed online to outsmart the scammers.

Spotting Online Scams

How to spot an online scam

There are some telltale signs of online scams. Some of the common signs include:

Urgent Messages from Friends

If you receive an urgent message from a friend requesting immediate financial help, especially in a crisis, verify their account's security before taking any action. A quick call to your friend can prevent you from falling victim to scams where attackers seize control of social media accounts.

Overly Eager Online Connections

Exercise caution if someone you recently met online is overly eager to establish a connection, particularly if they avoid in-person meetings. Romance scammers often create elaborate excuses to deceive individuals, like international travel or working in remote locations. Be vigilant and prioritize your safety.

Unusual Payment Requests

Be wary of any requests for payment via gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Scammers often choose methods that make it challenging for victims to recover the lost money. Verify the legitimacy of such requests before proceeding.

Too-Good-to-Be-True Discounts

Avoid falling for unbelievably low product prices, as they can be traps leading to malicious links or fake websites. Exercise caution and verify the legitimacy of discounts before making any online purchases.

Typos and Strange Spellings

Watch out for typos and unusual spellings in account names, bios, or website URLs. These are common signs of fake accounts or websites attempting to impersonate well-known brands or individuals. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes are red flags that should not be ignored.

Unrealistic Investment Promises

Stay cautious when confronted with promises of huge investment returns with minimal risk. Phrases like "get rich quick" are classic signs of potential scams. Always conduct thorough research and be skeptical of offers that sound too good to be true.

Pressure for Immediate Decisions

Scammers often rush victims into decisions, using urgent and dramatic language to push their agenda. Whether it's a supposed once-in-a-lifetime investment or an emergency requiring immediate financial assistance, take the time to verify the situation and consult with someone you trust before taking any action.

Common Online Scams and How They Work

Crypto/Bitcoin Scams

Crypto/Bitcoin Scams

Crypto/bitcoin scams involve fraudulent activities within the cryptocurrency space, where scammers manipulate individuals to gain unauthorized access to their digital assets or deceive them into making financial transactions under pretenses. These scams often exploit cryptocurrencies' decentralized and pseudonymous nature, making tracing and recovering lost funds challenging.

How Crypto/Bitcoin Scams Work

Phishing Attacks: Scammers use phishing techniques to trick individuals into revealing their private keys, passwords, or recovery phrases. Phishing can occur through fake websites, emails, or messages that mimic legitimate cryptocurrency platforms.

Fake Exchanges and Wallets: Fraudsters create fake cryptocurrency exchanges or wallets that closely resemble legitimate ones. Users unknowingly use these services risk losing their funds as scammers gain access to private keys or withdraw cryptocurrency.

Impersonation of Celebrities: Scammers create fake social media accounts impersonating well-known personalities or cryptocurrency experts. They use these accounts to promote fake giveaways or investment opportunities, asking users to send cryptocurrency to a specified address.

Pump and Dump Schemes: In pump and dump schemes, scammers artificially inflate the price of a low-cap cryptocurrency through false information or hype. Once the price peaks, they sell their holdings, causing the value to plummet, and leaving others with losses.

Tech Support Scams: Scammers may contact individuals claiming to be from a cryptocurrency exchange or tech support team. They suggest an issue with the victim's account and request access to their computer or private keys, enabling cryptocurrency theft.

Initial Coin Offering (ICO) Scams: Fake ICOs promise significant returns on investment for a new cryptocurrency. Scammers encourage investors to contribute funds, only to disappear with the money, leaving participants with worthless tokens.