As anyone who regularly uses the internet (which, in 2024, is pretty much everyone) knows, creative cyber scams continue to be rampant. They’re a significant threat to individuals and businesses alike, with hackers and scammers getting more creative in their approaches to deceive people. From the age-old email phishing scams to the more sophisticated and elaborate operations of recent years, it’s crucial to be aware of the risk in order to neutralise it.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the most creative cyber scams currently operating around the world and explain why each one is dangerous. We’ll also provide helpful tips to protect yourself and your business from them.

‘419’ Phishing Email Scams

This is one of the oldest scams that still operate today, but sadly, it’s still effective in deceiving people. As many readers will know, it’s a type of phishing scam where the perpetrator pretends to be a wealthy person who needs help transferring money out of their home country. Historically, these scams were referred to as ‘Nigerian Prince’ scams, a term now rejected due to the way it perpetuates harmful and inaccurate national stereotypes.

They usually target unsuspecting individuals through emails and promise a substantial reward for their assistance. The danger with this scam is that once the victim provides their personal details and banking information, the fraudster can either seal their identity or siphon money from their accounts.

To inveterate web users, this scam might seem like an easy one to avoid, but research shows it’s still hyper-effective, specifically with those already vulnerable. As the study shows, fraudsters are constantly developing and honing their techniques, so users must remain vigilant.

Prevention Techniques

Here are some top tips on how to avoid being caught by a 419 scam:

  • Be Skeptical: If an offer seems too good to be true, it likely is! Scammers often lure victims in with promises of large sums of money or other enticing offers.
  • Never Share Sensitive Information: Never share your or your business’s bank account or personal information with anyone you don’t trust implicity. Scammers can use this information to steal from you.
  • Understand the Red Flags: 419 scams often involve requests for advance payments, promises of large returns, or claims of urgent need.
  • Report Suspicious Activity: If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam, report it to the relevant law enforcement group.

Phone Call Scams

Last year, the UK experienced a significant upsurge in phone call scams, with several media outlets reporting on the issue extensively. Bitdefender highlighted that so-called ‘vishing’ scams, which involve fraudulent phone calls, were among the top five most common scams in the UK.

Moreover, Hiya’s blog reported an elaborate mobile phone contract scam targeting UK residents as the second-most-reported unwanted call in the first quarter of 2023, behind only cryptocurrency scams (more on those later!) This scam involved callers impersonating representatives from well-known businesses in order to gain the trust and personal information of their victims.

The UK Government responded to this growing problem by cracking down on cold calls and text scams offering financial products, following evidence that millions of people were targeted by such scams.

With the advent of AI, scam callers are able to synthesise voices to manipulate their victims. The impact of this is so far-reaching that it’s even begun to impact global politics, and is definitely something to be conscious of.

How to Protect Yourself Against Phone Call Scams

There are several ways you can help to shield yourself, your business, and your loved ones from these scams.

  • Screen Your Calls: Use caller ID to screen your calls and avoid answering unknown numbers. If it’s someone important, they will likely leave a voicemail or text explaining the call. Some smartphones and carriers also offer features that can identify and block potential scam calls.
  • Don’t Share Personal Details: As with the 419 phishing email scam, it’s information that the criminals are after. Scammers may pose convincingly as government departments, banks, or other trusted entities. Always remember legitimate organisations won’t ask for sensitive data like passwords over the phone.

Cryptocurrency Scams

These have become increasingly prevalent in recent years, posing significant threats to investors and traders worldwide. As reported by Time Magazine, the most notable scams tend to include blackmail and extortion scams, ‘business opportunity’ scams, fake job listing scams, giveaway scams, and impersonation scams.

Norton also identified that scammers are capitalising on the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies, exploiting those unfamiliar with the technology. In fact, CNBC and NASDAQ also listed cryptocurrency scams among the top five most dangerous cyber scams of 2024.

How to Safeguard Against Them

Let’s go through some simple steps to help keep ourselves safe from cryptocurrency scams:

  • Stay Informed: Knowledge is power. Understanding the basics of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and the common types of scams can equip you with the tools to spot red flags.
  • Research Before Investing: Thoroughly investigate before you invest in any cryptocurrency. Look into the platform’s credibility, its founders, and the team behind it. If a crypto investment promises guaranteed returns or pressures you to act quickly, it’s likely a scam.
  • Secure Your Wallet: Your digital wallet needs to be as secure as your physical one. Use wallets from reputable sources, enable two-factor authentications if available, and never share your private keys or passwords.

Looking to Stay Up to Date on the Latest Cybersecurity Developments?

At OneBeyond, cybersecurity and the protection from increasingly creative cyber scams are things we take seriously. Whether it’s keeping your business secure, identifying IoT vulnerabilities, or the importance of staying up to date on your security checks, we believe that protecting yourselves, your clients, your staff, and your loved ones is of paramount importance.

If you want to stay on top of the latest developments, keep an eye on our blog page or consider subscribing to our newsletter. Alternatively, if you’ve got more detailed questions about cybersecurity, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.