The resources available on the Anti-Phishing Working group site include information on where consumers and business can be better informed on common scams, as well as methods to report suspected fraud. The first site linked is the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Stopper site, which offers a way for individuals to report potential scams as well as find common types of scams that are currently known. The resources also include information behind the psychology of scams and how they work: essentially, scams differ from other types of illegitimate practices, such as hacking, because scams rely on establishing trust with a victim through deceit. Other links provided on the Anti-Phishing group’s site include the FBI’s fraud scheme page, FDIC consumer news, and other resources that outline how to identify and report potential schemes. The overall impression of the information provided is that in order to protect oneself from scams, one should have a clear and verifiable understanding of the person they are communicating with. If an identity remains hidden or unverifiable, no transaction should occur.
According to the OnGuardOnline site, phishing is a tactic that involves obtaining sensitive information, such as login and password information, through illicit means. For instance, a typical phishing tactic is for the scammer to pretend to be from a legitimate organization or business asking if this information can be verified. This may include a fraudulent site that appears to be real. In order to best protect oneself from a phishing scam, no personal or sensitive information should be given in this manner. If there is a concern over whether the request for information is legitimate or not, the company or business in question should be contacted via alternate means, such as calling the company directly. Many businesses have in place guarantees that they will not ask for information in a suspicious manner in order to combat this very type of fraud, so contacting the business directly after appearing to be contacted by one of their representatives who remains unverified would be the ideal way to protect oneself.
Auction fraud involves a crime where products are advertised online for purchase, but no products are delivered once payment is received. The way auction sites such as eBay have combatted aim to provide protections for consumers is through verifying sellers, providing an area for consumers to leave feedback which can be reviewed by other potential bidders, and encouraging researchers to conduct as much research on the seller as possible when considering a purchase. Using a credit card to make a purchase is encouraged, because may card companies offer consumer protections for fraud, including the ability to dispute a charge, and customers are informed that certain information, such as a social security number, should never be provided. They will also have a way for victims of fraud to report it. These methods are not completely foolproof, so there is always a minimal amount of risk involved.
One case involving phishing that is commonplace is an instance of being contacted through email that a down payment is being requested in exchange for a much greater financial return. The most notorious and famous example that occurred when email became popular was the case of someone posing as a Nigerian prince, who was requesting bank information with the promise of making a large deposit (Better Business Bureau, 2017). The only technology used was email. A case of auction fraud involved a Romanian gang that would post products for sale on a legitimate auction site, but asked for payment to be sent to a bank account operated by the gang, then failing to deliver any products (Constantin, 2012). In this instance, the only technology used to commit the fraud was the auction website, although upon arrest the gang was found with fraudulent documentation that allowed them open U.S. bank accounts. In both instances, the fraud could have been prevented by seeking additional information; the fraud was successful due to consumers unwittingly accepting all terms provided by the criminals.
- Better Business Bureau. (2017). The Nigerian Prince: Old Scam, New Twist. Accessible at http://www.bbb.org/new-york-city/get-consumer-help/articles/the-nigherian-prince-old-scam-new-twist/
- Constantin, L. (2012). Gang responsible for multimillion-dollar online auction fraud busted in Romania. Network World. Accessible at http://www.networkworld.com/article/2162091/byod/gang-responsible-for-multimillion-dollar-online-auction-fraud-busted-in-romania.html