How to be safe on the web

Updated August 2020

Internet browsing is great fun. It can be educational. But there are many out there whose intentions are less than honest. To protect yourself and your computer from bogus offers, scam emails, viruses, ‘computer worms’ and similar , I can show you the basics and examples of typical scams to stay away from.

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Also, who are you dealing with when you find an interesting article or offer? There are tell tale signs if all is not as it should be, find out and beware. At the very least I would suggest you email the website with the tempting offer and check that you get a reply. These days thieves don’t need to break in to steal your cash!

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Example email scam email received August 2020

so… what are the tell tale signs that this is a scam. I’m sure you will all have received that tempting offer by some Nigerian government official needing your bank details, it’s a pretty obvious scam and by now you would think it no longer works…. it does, everyday !

I will go through all the points that I see on the email and its source website below, you would of course just delete the email if you suspected it as a scam, having found any one of these tell tale signs

Example 1. Email purporting to be from a trusted source

The Email Address:

First, is the email consistent with what you would expect ? For example one very common scam – this example is from today 27th August – ” We have placed a hold on your Amazon account and all pending orders” where the details in the email point to Amazon.com ( this is very very common since nearly everyone has an Amazon account ) but if you look at the email header it will either be from Amzon.co.uk or similar misspelled name , or like in this case, they actually have not even bothered to hide themselves and written from the following email account

amazon-mataneajg52344@afadnkmyf.online. ( OBVIOUSLY this is not the Amazon official email)

Any professional organisation will have their own domain name in the email address. Eg : info@my-computer-tuition.co.uk or accounts@Amazon.com . What a scammer often does is make it similar enough, so if you’re not being careful, it will look official , like – barclaysbank@mail.com or even kent-police-gov@gmail.co.uk , so easy to overlook, but mail.com and gmail.co.uk are public free email accounts , anyone can open one in minutes and begin scamming people.

Is it Addressed to you specifically?

Second, It would be rare for the scammers to have your name, so if your name is missing…. suspect it . This is really common and you should

  • NEVER reply to a suspect email, don’t give them a second chance to contact you.
  • NEVER open any attachment file These may contain spyware or worse
  • NEVER log in through their link. If you want to check it – use the link you alway use.

EXAMPLE 2: This Scam Email arrived yesterday and shows the two points above perfectly:

Greetings, ( note there is no name here )

We have been asked by our client to make payment to you on their behalf.

Kindly confirm if the details provided  are correct.


Thanks in advance,
 
Kind regards
 
Anita Merquel
Accountant

The address given is in Saudi Arabia ! (I don’t do business there)

The payment is supposed to be for Aircraft parts ( I have nothing to do with Aircraft ) . The Website is an obvious scam, with bad grammar and spelling mistakes all over and NO detail pages – nothing, no parts for sale, no price list, no Directors list, no departments,

The grammar here is terrible, a ten year old could have written this webpage better, “we want assure” , “when use our services” , “after buy with us”, “we gonna support you”, “we don’t want sell ” I don’t think a professional company’s proof reader would fail to spot any of these… perhaps they are too busy giving ” assistence” to their customers , “thinking about it” too long or busy working with their manifacturers – whatever they are .

If still in doubt – investigate further with Google Maps:

This is Google street view of the Address given on the website: as you can see unit 3 doesn’t even have a name above the door. North Aircraft Parts, just don’t exist ! So Don’t take it as read that just because an email comes from an “official looking website” that it is any sort of proof of validity.

Follow the links to their other pages

Does it look like an official website of a big organisation? Here is the “About” page, which I would expect to be a comprehensive summary of their company’s structure, Details of CEO and major board members, Key Staff, List of Departments, Addresses of HQ and distributed locations….

But what actually is on the About Page, is vague , has very bad grammar and lots of simple errors

This is yet more rubbish put up by the scammers, perhaps a quick scan of the site might convince us its real, but look a bit deeper – would any decent company make so many mistakes? Even if English is not their first language, you can get a proof reader for five dollars or less on fiverr.com to check it.

What to Do when you suspect a Scam

My advice is to simply delete it.

You could forward it to one of the many organisations that try to stop scammers like the National Cyber Security Centre, a government organisation with powers.

https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/information/report-suspicious-emails

but, I am sure they have their hands full and reporting one more – will it be acted on?

What NOT to do – very important , DO NOT click any link that purports to remove you from their list ! All you will achieve is confirmation that you exist, which will make the more determined of scammers try even harder to win.

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