Many, if not all, of us will be familiar with online scams. From the ‘you’ve won the lottery scams’ right through to the fact that Gadaffi’s fortunes have been left in the hands of a solicitor who wants to give you $20 million just because he’s a nice kind of guy. E-mail scams have been going on for a long, long time. But is there a new way that we are getting scammed online? A way that we don’t realise we are getting scammed?
Well unfortunately, the answer appears to be yes. And most of the time we might not be aware that we are getting scammed. It can often go undetected due to the fact that they aren’t targeting our money – rather they are targeting our time (to get others money ultimately). Let’s explain…..
The Traditional Online Scam
The traditional online scam. To all intents and purposes, it is as old as the Internet itself. With e-mail scanning becoming more prevalent and online users becoming more wary, scammers are needing to stay ahead of the game. After traditional online scams have been exploited for over two decades they are bar far less effective than they used to be. And the future looks like the success of these traditional scams will likely to continue to decrease.
But scammers still need to scam – it’s what they do. So what they need is a new scam…..
The Modern Online Scam
That brings us on to the modern online scam. A scam which isn’t really covered anywhere else and isn’t widely known about. Dare I say, very few people will probably be aware of it (to its full extent).
A major flaw of the traditional online scam is that sooner or later it becomes obvious that financially, you’ve lost out – whether it be cloned cards used for fake withdrawals or fraudulent online transactions. Ultimately, quite detectable.
So logic would dictate that to make the crime less, or undetectable, we remove the missing money element. However, then how would the scammer gain from the scam?
If there was some way that they could leave the person ‘scammed’ with their finances intact but indirectly use them to obtain money for the scammer from third parties. An ingenius theory – but how to pull it off? In the offline world, something like this would be impossible to pull off. But as many people learn on a daily basis, pretty much anything is possible online.
How Does It Work?
Right, lets get to the nitty gritty of how this works. The people being ‘scammed’ = Internet users – however these aren’t the ones who financially lose out. The Internet users are in effect being used to scam third parties, usually affiliate advertising programs, of their money without the knowledge of the user. In essence its all legitimate – I guess it would come down to how you define ‘scam’ as to whether you class it as a scam, dishonesty or just plain immoral.
Let’s explain with a simple example.
In our theoretical world DPS Computing launches ‘DPS Keyboards’. Now these aren’t just any keyboards – they are the most amazing keyboards in the world…. ever! Not only do they work in the way that a traditional keyboard works but they also many other special things that makes them completely irresistible. Needless to say that everybody in the world wants a DPS Keyboard – priced at £99.99 (told you it was amazing!).
Now, in our theoretical world their is a scammer, called Bob. Bob wants to make money online. Bob notices that there is loads of media attention surrounding DPS Keyboards and that everyone in the world wants one. Bob capitalises on this. He sets up a website. The topic of his website? Well, that’d be ‘COMPLETELY FREE DPS Keyboards’. Wow, Bob must be rich……..
Bob sets up his ‘COMPLETELY FREE DPS Keyboards’ website and places loads of affiliate ads all over the pages from many different ad providers (Adsense for example).
Everyone all over the world is searching for DPS Keyboards, and Bobs page, over the course of a few weeks, quickly rises to the top of the search rankings – who wouldn’t be interested in a £99.99 amazing keyboard for free?
Everyone goes on Bobs website, registers for their free keyboards, looks at other pages on there, maybe even clicks on an ad or two.
Everyone excitedly waits for their free DPS Keyboard. It doesn’t turn up.
So back to Bobs website, have a browse, try to contact him, find an e-mail address, contact him and while on Bobs site have a little more browsing for answers (again viewing more ads and clicking on a couple).
Fast forward a year….. and no one has their free DPS Keyboards. However, Bob has been making a nice little earning on the side from all the extra revenue he has created. But how? He was giving the keyboards away for free – he wasn’t getting any card details.
True, true. However, what he was doing was getting people to his website viewing ads when each page load and also clicking on some of them. All of this will have been making money for Bob. That in itself isn’t the ‘scam’ part of it…. that’s completely legitimate. But for the fact that……
Bob never had any DPS Keyboards. And he certainly never intended to give any of them away for free. What he did was pick a popular topic that loads of people were searching for and made an irresistible offer – in this case an expensive item for free. There was no intention to actually go through with what was on offer – just the intention of having you browse lots of pages and click lots of ads on a website which had lured you there under false pretences.
Now I picked an extreme example here to highlight how it works…. but there are many takes of this scam currently happening on the Internet.
Ever seen ads for ‘paid for blogging’ services? While some are legitimate, some are just there to perpetrate this type of scam. Everybody would like to make half a million pounds a year from blogging. Getting paid to blog about things would be a dream come true for many people. So, a site will spring up and get you to register with them with the promise that you’ll be sent offers x times a day and you’ll be making hundreds of pounds in no time. Only, with the scamming sites, when you actually register you don’t receive anything. The whole idea of the site was to pick a popular subject, lure people in, and hopefully rake in advertising revenues.
Same goes for survey websites offering £7 per survey. Yes there are some legitimate sites that pay for you to complete surveys…. but remember there are also scam sites set up. Always use caution and good judgement.
Remember the old saying, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. This applies on the Internet as well – maybe even more so!
Although the person being scammed doesn’t lose out financially, you do lose out on your time. And if time is money….. it’s just a round about way of getting cash for the scammers.
It always pays to be vigilant on the Internet. Do your research, know who you’re dealing with. Look for reviews, past experiences and previous site members. Don’t get sent down blind alleys that promise you everything and give you nothing!
If you’ve ever registered for an offer/service/competition/part time job etc online that has turned out to be nothing, other than a honeypot to lure you in so they can earn affiliates advertising money, feel free to leave a comment below. :). Stay safe everyone!