Common Internet Scams and How to Spot Them

In 2019, imposter scams accounted for $488 million in losses. Internet scammers are slimy and smart. They’ve fooled me from time to time. Sometimes it can be costly if you’re not able to spot a scammer before it’s too late. Here’s four of the most common internet scams and how to spot them.

Email Phishing

“Phishers” are internet scammers who are “dropping a line” into the internet hoping to make the catch of the day and hook your personal information. Analogies aside, these internet scammers want to steal from you; your identity, your money, anything they can get.

How to spot one of these fraudulent emails/messages:

  • The email uses threatening language such as “the account will be locked or services will be delayed” or you’ve been warned/given an ultimatum.

  • Suspicious documents or links are attached. DO NOT open these.

  • You’ve won something! Trust me, unfortunately you did win that all inclusive hotel package and flight to the Bahamas.

  • The email has a generic greeting such as “Sir/Madame.” Companies will almost always use your name in their emails. Not “beloved customer.

  • The email in the sender bar has many random letters and numbers. This is not always the case, but it’s good to double check that the email has a strong and simple resemblance of the company’s brand.

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Personal Emergency Scam

In this case, scammers email or post social media messages that appear to be from someone you know saying they are in distress, such as having their wallet stolen or having been arrested. If you get such a message, find another way to verify if it’s true, such as reaching out directly to the person. If you get such a message from a friend, there is a good chance that their account was hacked and that it’s a criminal who is out to steal your money. If contact was made over the phone, make sure to have a detailed conversation and be 100% sure you are talking to who you think you are.

Online Dating Scam

With anyone you meet online, there is always the possibility they may not be who they claim to be. Here’s some Red Flags:

  • Age discrepancies, photos that look like they are from fashion sites, instant feelings of love, pressure to communicate outside of the dating app.

  • Be suspicious of anyone who is never actually available for a phone call or face-to-face meeting.

  • Look for abnormalities in the way a person writes and the type of grammar and words they use. It may not mean anything but it could be a sign that they are in a foreign country and may have no intention of actually meeting you.

  • Don’t send money. Be especially suspicious and don’t send money if the person asks for money, perhaps to get on a plane to come meet you or to help them deal with a personal or family crisis.

Infected Computer Scam:

Sometimes scammers will call pretending to be a malware protection company or tech service representative. Usually, they already have some information from your computer and will make you pay up front so that can “fix it” and protect you from losing further data. In this case, they are the real scammers, and will gain access to control your computer through the fake security software they’ve sold you. If you fear your computer has been compromised, obtain professional help from a reputable brand or in-person service to clean you computer of malware.

Remember, always use ODD passwords:




Keep a list of your passwords or use a password organizer. Don’t just have one password. In the event that your only password is compromised, you could lose access to ALL associated accounts. Finally, make calculated decisions about how you design a password. Use random words and attach numbers and symbols in specific places.

These scammers are slimy and tricky, don’t be ashamed if you are a victim to one of these scams. Always feel free to reach out for free online security advice. TechTrainer: (425) 961-9250

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