THE world’s biggest cyber security firm has outlined how building a zero-trust mindset will keep you safe from increasingly regular scams.
Anna Collard, SVP content strategy and evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa, shares seven different scams that people need to look out for in 2024.
Collard advises that it is important to slow down and take a breath before reacting to any scam, particularly if it’s emotionally triggering.
Deepfake impersonation scams
She claims that fraudsters may more easily produce believable phoney texts purporting to be from individuals you know and trust, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) technology. It lets con artists produce audio and video so realistic that a lot of people mistake them for the real thing.
Scammers also pretend to be family members, including grandchildren, and ask for money while using AI-generated voice notes or videos. This is called a grandparent scam. Another fraudulent application of deepfakes is to impersonate politicians to spread confusion or disinformation, particularly with the approaching elections.
Investment scams can appear as trustworthy financial organisations promising incredible returns. However, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Collard advises caution in such situations. Scammers often combine cryptocurrency scams with romance scams as well.
“With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, scammers may tempt many individuals to apply for these loans to make ends meet; be very careful of any offers that sound too good to be true.”
By using fake profiles on dating sites or social media, scammers build trust with their victims and then exploit this emotional connection to trick them into sending them money.
“Even though family members might repeatedly warn the victim, they often continue with the romantic deception because once on the hook, psychologically, it is very difficult for the victim’s brains to admit that they have been conned,” explains Collard.
Identity and social media profile theft
Identity theft involves stealing personal information to commit fraud. Scammers do this via phishing emails or phone calls, as with banking scams. Social media profile theft involves hackers hijacking your social media accounts to reach out to your contacts, pretending to be you, spreading malicious software, scams, or asking for money.
After a humanitarian crisis, like a flood, charity scams frequently emerge.
“These scams play on your emotions and ask you to give money to a worthy cause, but in reality, they are fake charities,” explains Collard.
Red flags to watch out for are unusual payment methods, such as EFT, instead of secure payment platforms.
Tech support scams
Posing as IT technicians, these scammers try to convince you that there’s something wrong with your computer and offer to fix it. They then seize control of your computer, steal your personal information, or hack into your bank account.
Are you in the market for a pure-bred puppy? Beware! International crime syndicates operating in South Africa offer purportedly discounted pooches. According to Collard, many individuals have suffered significant financial losses not only for the non-existent dog but also for transportation expenses.