Banking fraud is going to be a constant presence in our society. As long as there is money, there will be people trying to take it without having earned it. Once, they used bags and masks: now they use login details. And lately, banking fraud has accelerated, due to, you guessed it, Covid and its resulting lockdowns. These conditions are perfect for fraud to run rife, not least because people are answering their personal phones during what would be work hours. The good news is that a lot of these scams can be avoided with diligence and compliance to cybersecurity regulations.
Scams to gain money can be ultimately split into two categories: authorized and unauthorized access. Authorized access means that technically the fraudster has permission to access the funds but they were obtained by manipulative and nefarious means. Think a telephone call that starts ‘We would like to talk to you about your recent car accident’. Unauthorized access is more akin to hacking, where the fraudster will take your login details to use as they wish without your knowledge.
Phishing scams are fake emails and text messages that appear to come from banks, companies, delivery agencies and even the government. For example, throughout the Covid lockdowns, there were a lot of fake positive test results coming through in text form, from people with no connection to the NHS or the app tracker. Typically, a phishing scam will come through in an email or text and merely opening it is enough to allow them access to your details. Nowadays, they also show up on Whatsapp and Messenger apps as messages from friends.
Pharming is when a hacker intercepts sensitive information from between two parties, usually on a public network. If the connection to the network isn’t protected by a VPN or encryption, the hacker can piggyback off the network to reach your information, usually if you are busy trying to log into your online banking service or digital e-wallet. It is particularly rife since the rise of cryptocurrency, with login details being used to make a transfer, with no chance of a refund due to the nature of the technology, of funds out of the e-wallet.
Tech support scam
The tech support scam is a unique combination of authorized and unauthorized access. It can be performed without the victim knowing what is really going on, but it also requires a level of trust manipulated out of the victim. Usually this is accomplished by someone posing as a tech support staff member telling the victim that they are due an upgrade or have something wrong with their computer, phone, tablet, etc. before getting the details they need to access the apps they want to.
Romance scams are the long game and take a great deal of manipulation. It’s a worry that goes hand in hand with the idea of a catfish, but whether the perpetrator is posing as themselves or not, they are usually swindling money out of the victim with the promise of love, marriage, etc. Think the Nigerian prince that needs a flight to see you. Maybe the Nigerian prince is a meme now, but the foreigner that needs flight money to see you is very common.
The amount of people investing has greatly increased over the past few years. Lockdown allowing more time to think about the money you have, mixed with the rise in cryptocurrency, has created amateur stockbrokers of a lot of us. But the crypto space is rife with investment scams. The most high profile of which are perpetrated by celebrities and influencers, who convince victims to invest in their coin, and then empty the coin in a pump and dump scheme.