Email SCAMS and how to avoid them
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Author: Sam Pickett

Date: January 31, 2017

Over the past few years, email scams have become one of the easiest and most successful ways for criminals to target people online. These emails can contain anything from blatantly obvious requests for money from anonymous sources, to cleverly worded impersonations requesting personal details.

Many scam emails contain links to untrustworthy websites. Sometimes these links lead to websites with nuisance or explicit content. Other times the links may lead to fake login pages for banking websites, intended to fool the user into entering their login details, which are then stolen by the scammer.

Some scam emails contain attachments infected with computer viruses, which may infect your system. A good, up-to-date antivirus program can catch many such threats, but will not be foolproof.

Things to look out for…

  • Check who the sender was.
  • Strange attachment names.
  • Grammatical errors.
  • Requesting personal information.
  • Asking to reply to a ‘personal’ email address.
  • Verification/login forms.

Examples

Below is a standard email asking for financial assistance.


 Re: Good Morning,
I want to invest in your country., Please don't ignore this 
message. I am writing this mail to you with due respect trust 
and humanity, i appeal to you to exercise a little patience 
and read through my letter i feel quite safe dealing with you 
in this important issue, My name is Naomi Andre, I am 19 years 
old, My father was a commitment cocoa and gold merchant in 
Ivory Coast, before his untimely death. After his business 
trip to Tunisia to negotiate a cocoa and gold business he 
wanted to invest in Tunisia, a week after he came back from 
Tunisia, he falls sick and died five days after in a private 
hospital, after few months my uncle and his cousins began 
selling all my father's properties, and he refused to pay my 
school fees. I have been alone and nobody is taking care of 
me,Please i want you to keep this between us, As i am writing 
you now, i have the sum of $ 4.5 million i inherited from my 
late father which was deposited here in Ivory coast in one of 
the local bank by my late father with my name as the next of 
kin. Having known my condition and the pains i have been going 
through, i decided to transfer and invest my inherited fund in 
your country.
My uncle have threatened to assassinate me if I do not give 
him my father's bank document, I refused. And he said he will 
kill me, so I ran out of my father's house and hid myself in 
one of the hotels in another city called Abidjan. I've 
discussed with the bank and they agreed to transfer the money 
to any country of my choice. i want to transfer the money into 
your account and join you immediately after the transfer. I 
will compensate you with 20% of the total money for your 
services and we will invest the balance in your establishment. 
I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability 
and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely, please 
stand by me and help me out.
Greetings

If poor Naomi was in such a plight I’m sure many of us would lend a hand, but this request is clearly fake and is an attempt to steal the personal details of the unsuspecting recipient. An email supposedly from ANZ Bank:

Fake ANZ email

As you can see, this email looks relatively normal, however banks will never email you asking for information. The first clue to detecting the email as a fake was the from address. If this was indeed from ANZ, it would be from an address like xyz@anz.com. However as you can see below, this isn’t the case.

ANZ email from address

office@smh.com.au is an email address of the Sydney Morning Herald… Not ANZ! (We’re not inferring that the Sydney Morning Herald are scammers! Someone has impersonated their mail server.) Another clue would be to look at the link address. You can do this by hovering your mouse where it says ‘Click here’.

ANZ email link address

As you can see, the link goes to a website murashiki.com which is once again not the official ANZ website.

If you suspect a scam…

  • Never open the email
  • Delete it
  • Report it to the company who they were impersonating

If you suspect your computer is infected…

  • Run anti-virus/anti-malware scans immediately
  • Contact Ion Programming for additional advice and assistance
  • Avoid using the computer and certainly do not use it for things such as online banking until you are certain it is secure

If you believe your important details (e.g. bank details) have been stolen…

  • Contact the related institution (e.g. your bank) immediately and inform them