Saturday, May 25, 2024

How cybercriminals use human emotions to prey on their victims

Scammers are experts — albeit diabolical ones — at choosing the emotional hooks to lure people into their traps. The use of digital platforms, which often enable them to be anonymous or use fake identities, has made it even easier for them to pull off their schemes. It is best if you avoid falling for their scams by keeping your emotions in check. 

Here’s a guide to scammers’ favorite emotional manipulation antics and how you can avoid getting duped by them. 

1. Fear Factor. Scaring people is perhaps the fastest way to cloud their judgment. Scammers do this by sending phishing emails claiming that your bank account or email account will be blocked or deactivated immediately if you don’t click the link embedded in the email. 

The scammers will tell you that clicking on the link will start the process of updating your account. This is a lie. Obviously, the link they want you to click on is a phishing link.

There are also scam emails that ask you to call the numbers provided. Some people have also gotten scam text messages asking them to click on malicious links. Others receive SMS saying that they will be receiving a call from a certain company representative but is in fact a fraudster.

Tip: Don’t panic. Don’t click on the links presented in fear-mongering emails. The best thing to do is to call the bank’s hotline or reach out to your email service provider to ask if they’re really sending out emails threatening to deactivate accounts.   

Never call the numbers presented by the scammers and never click any links sent to you via email, text message, or social media. 

2. Temptation Island. Perhaps, the most overused warning of all time is this: “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Then again, too many of us can’t resist being tempted by unbelievable offers or promos. These include low risk investments with alleged high returns.

Tip: Don’t get overexcited by over-the-top claims or crazy bargains. Go to trusted and verified sources to make sure that the promos and deals being presented to you are legitimate. Otherwise, you’ll lose your hard-earned money and will literally have nothing to show for it.

3. The Good Place. A lot of us want to help those in need. Some scammers put up fake donation drives or set up fake charity organizations or events after disasters to appeal for help from the public. These bogus organizations are out to take advantage of your generosity and compassion.

Tip: Do extensive research on the person or group that you want to donate to. Make sure that you’re helping those who are in crisis and not just enriching scammers. Best to check as well if these organizations post outputs or results of their efforts.

4. Love Connection. There are so many lonely souls looking for love in online platforms and they’re seen as easy targets by scammers. The fraudsters set up fake profiles and cultivate what is supposedly a long distance relationship with the hapless victim. At some point, the scammer begins to find ways to get money from the victim.

Tip: Be careful with the strangers you meet both in real life and online. It’s definitely a red flag when your supposed “partner” repeatedly asks you for money via online transfers. Unless you’re secure in your relationship and your partner is indeed in crisis and you want to help him or her, then it’s best to cut ties with scammers who pretend to be into you but are actually into your cash.

Keep in mind that cybercriminals take advantage of the fact that it’s still a bit more challenging for the authorities to track them down. Make sure that you are fully alert and in the right state of mind whenever you go online. Otherwise your emotions may overwhelm you and you’ll forego good judgment. So curb your feelings when you’re online. A healthy dose of skepticism always feels a whole lot better than getting scammed.

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