Internet Fraud

The Danger of Not Knowing

April 21st 2020
By: Cari-Ann Carty

With more businesses focusing on online services and people spending a greater amount of time online in general, this may be a good time to go over the various pitfalls that can trap the unwary on the internet.

There has been an increase in the number of people using online conferencing services and running into problems with security. Uninvited people are getting ahold of the meeting links and then jump in to cause trouble. People’s lack of familiarity with computers and these programs is cited as the main reason this is happening. Another concern, though, is that this is happening because people who are unfamiliar with online culture and behavior are running across, let’s say, less than savory characters (trolls).

People who are unfamiliar with the kinds of bad behavior found online don’t know the measures they should take to protect themselves. While having your business meeting interrupted by rude videos is annoying, those people labeled as trolls tend to cause trouble for entertainment. Real safety concerns can arise from others who are looking to gain information and/or money.

Scammers are also using the pandemic to come up with schemes that target concerned individuals. Scammers will do things like, set up fake links to information about COVID-19, create fake charity campaigns with links to donate to them, or create a fake crowdfunding campaign.

The FBI is advising to look out for the following types of scams.

Fake Emails: There are fake emails that look like they are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations. These emails will claim to have information about COVID-19 and may have links or attachments. Don’t open email, click links, or open attachments from addresses you don’t recognize

Phishing Emails: These emails are like fishing lines that people send out to catch the unwary. These emails usually pretend to be from a popular website or service and ask people to confirm or update their personal information. Lately, some have been pretending to be related to the government handing out economic stimulus checks. Only update your personal information through an official organization or government website.

Counterfeit Treatments or Equipment: Many people are selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. Check official sources of information such as the FDA or CDC websites to determine if a cure is legitimate. Be aware that there are counterfeit products, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves.

Read the full FBI release “FBI Sees Rise in Fraud Schemes Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic” to get all the details and check out the FBI’s IC3 Press Room page for the most recent online scam news.

The FBI also has a broader list of types of scams you should be aware of online. These include things like Data Breach, Denial of Service, Email Account Compromise, and Ransomware. To read more about these types of scams, you can visit the FBI page on Internet Fraud.

So what can you do if you end up the victim of one of these scams? You can report it to the federal government on the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Be sure to have the following information when you file a complaint.

  • Victim’s name, address, telephone, and email
  • Financial transaction information (e.g., account information, transaction date and amount, who received the money)
  • Subject’s name, address, telephone, email, website, and IP address
  • Specific details on how you were victimized
  • Email header(s)
  • Any other relevant information you believe is necessary to support your complaint

The best way to avoid scams is to make sure to research any organization before handing over information or money. Don’t fall for scammers! Pay attention to what you are doing and where you are going online the same way you would in real life.

Adjusting to socializing and conducting business online may seem strange and confusing at first, but over time it will start to feel like a new normal. Just remember to be careful and stay safe!


Interested in learning more about fraud? Older adults often find themselves the target of scams. This article from 60 and Me has information on common scams, including how to recognize and avoid them.