There are some online scams that are so funny, you can’t help but laugh when you stumble across them. Like the one with the Nigerian prince who’s still waiting to be saved, or when Beyonce didn’t have money for rent so she decided to DM people on social media and ask for money.
Unfortunately, other scams are better planned to the point that you don’t question even for a second that what you're looking at is a scam. Knowing examples of some common online scams might save you from a lot of trouble, but what do you do when the scams aren’t that obvious?
Dealing with them after you’ve been tricked can be a long, and sometimes, unsuccessful process.
And statistics don’t look good either - 50% of people who experienced fraud on a website lost their money.
But learning how to identify online expat scams can save you from a lot of problems. What’s more, you can even spread the word and teach others about it so you’ll make the internet a safer place!
How Do You Spot an Online Expat Scam?
Unfortunately, scams put a bit more effort into tricking people nowadays. Everyone can recognize an online expat scam when they land on a weird-looking website with flickery animation and weird texts all over the place.
However, things changed a bit for the worst in the last decade and so, online scams look professional today. But just because a website looks trustworthy doesn’t mean you also need to believe its claims.
We got you a list of 4 important red flags that you should look out for when browsing on the internet.
1. It’s Too Good to Be True
Always keep in mind that if you find something that’s too good to be true, it most certainly is.
Most of the time, these offers create a sense of urgency by using scarcity and time-limited offers. Here are a few examples:
- 80%-90% discounts
- You buy 2 items and you get 5 other items for free
- Incredibly low prices for luxury items
You don’t miss anything by ignoring these offers, trust us. People were tricked into buying fake, expired, or damaged products. And believe it or not, this was the least scary part. Many times, people didn’t receive what they ordered and they didn’t even get their money back!
If you’re looking to buy high-end tech items or luxury goodies, it’s better to purchase them from the original website even if they cost a bit more. You’ll get a certificate of originality and if there is a problem with the product, you can always contact the seller.
2. The Scammers Are too Pushy
In marketing, there is this technique called FOMO (“fear of missing out”) that gets people to buy something impulsively.
But keep in mind that there is a strong rule against making people feel pressured into doing something.
Scammers don’t care about this part at all. They will message you endlessly and come with better, even more incredible offers every time you refuse them. Usually, they’ll use an aggressive tone and will message you so often that it turns into spam.
3. You Have to Pay Money Upfront so You Can Claim Your Prize
Imagine you won an incredible amount of money (even though you don’t even remember participating in an online contest). Or that a relative you never heard about until now wants to donate you a mansion in an exquisite neighborhood you’ve always wanted to live in but you never told anyone about it.
Everything sounds exciting until they tell you the magic words:
- Our team needs you to make a bank deposit so you can claim your prize
- I need you to cash this check before I’ll send you the mansion’s legal acts
Sorry to burst your bubble, but these are both scams. Just hang up the phone and block their account so they won’t contact you again.
4. Incorrectly Used Trademarks
Scammers take popular brand names and twist them to confuse people who aren’t familiar with them.
For example, they’ll send emails on behalf of Etzy. Someone who didn’t pay attention to the brand might think they received a legit email from Etsy, and that’s just a small typo. If they even see the typo, that’s it.
Reputable companies, NGOs, or small businesses don’t have typos in their emails, especially when it comes to their brand’s name.
What You Should Do After You Spot an Online Scam
Spotting an online scam is just the first step of the process! Here's what you should do next so you can keep your data safe!
1. Tell Your Family and Friends about It
Take screenshots of that website, email, or message and send them to your family and friends.
What’s more, talk with them about the reason why you think it’s a scam. Some people don’t know what you already know, so your information comes in handy. In the screenshot, highlight anything that gives that scam away:
- Low-quality website
- A stranger’s email out of the blue asking you for favors
- Low discounts
- Company name spelled incorrectly
Tell them to blacklist that website with the firewall so they won’t get scammed.
2. Report the Scam
Sometimes, scam websites bypass Google’s algorithms. Anytime you encounter a phishing page, a shady website, or a scam ad, report it to Google. This way, Google will alert other users as well and penalize the malicious website.
Have you ever encountered an online expat scam online? If yes, what did you do? Share your experience with us in the comments section.
Don’t forget that every opinion or experience matters greatly because only together can we raise awareness against these online scams!