Scams come in a myriad of ways and fraudsters are just about everywhere. Internet being an easy haven to thrive and hide for such criminals they are just burgeoning in numbers.
Recently, NETCorp’s subsidiary, Budget Websites, which mainly caters to the web development and digital marketing needs of new and small businesses, faced an email based fraud attempt. The company was approached by a fraudster with a fake demand to build an e-commerce site.
Right from the initial communication, our team smelt a rat as the tricksters were just too obliging. This is where Budget Websites stepped up the vigil and pressured them to follow the payment protocol which included signing of an electronic contract through DocuSign. From that point their fraud started coming in to light, the fraudster delayed necessary authorisations and requested our Budget Websites team to accept payments exclusively through Credit Card. Later, requests for fund transfer to a third-party supplier was made on different pretexts.
It was a clear case of credit card scam, involving a stolen credit cards. Their half-baked plan involved paying through a stolen credit card and then getting it transferred to their account.
Budget Websites credits their well-defined client onboarding procedure and its adherence for evading the online crime of which they could have been a co-conspirator, though unknowingly.
This experience was an eye-opener and we thought of sharing our knowledge to help you identify attempts of fraud and safeguard yourself from being a victim.
Some tell-tale signs that you should be looking out for
- Email trail: The fraudsters may not maintain an email trail of conversation; every reply appears as a new conversation, as a separate email. They do this to avoid giving direct answers to questions that you may have asked. Also, at times, they may use more than one email address to communicate (in this case, the email address was different by one character only).
- Too willing: The scammers are usually in a hurry; they need to strike when the iron is hot. Online criminals won’t give you much time to make decisions or won’t take time in making decisions, as they can’t risk a change of mind. So, unlike a genuine client who would ask too many questions and may take their time to make a decision, these criminals are way too willing to accept your terms and conditions and proceed with payment.
- Vague details: Online criminals will refrain from answering queries because of the risk of giving themselves away. So, when you either don’t get a reply or if you get vague answers to your questions, beware!
- Time of communication: In our case, the perpetrators had mentioned that they lived in Bunbury, a country town in our south west, but the time of their replies suggested that they were living in a different time zone as all the emails were sent late at night.
- Requested mode of transaction: This is very important, the majority of the criminals would ask you to transfer money, either yours or like in Budget Websites case, a combination what seemed like their money and ours. Always verify the account and the source. Take your time before making a decision.
- Apathy towards protocol: The online criminals will try their best to dodge your set procedures. In Budget Websites’ case, for instance, the fraudster was asked to sign an agreement which was secured by DocuSign. They persistently avoided it to secure their digital footprints, DocuSign records the IP address along with the digital signature – a valuable piece of information when talking with authorities.
Your gut feeling can be right at times; if you have a negative feeling about a new contact or a client, there is no harm in investigating them. Also, not all criminals aim for your money, some might be looking at your data too, or using you as a staging platform for a larger organisation. Exercising caution and building foolproof security are factors worth considering.
Some Common Online Scams are:
- Phishing Scam
- Remote Access Scam
- Dating Scam
- Charity Fraud Scam
- Bitcoin Scam
- Fake antivirus Scam
Online attackers are getting smarter with technology and are weaving a new plan each day. Learn about scams and related information. Awareness about new scams and their methodology can give you the upper hand. Keep a check on your business vulnerabilities, after all, Cyber Security is no longer a problem to be pushed aside but a risk to be managed.