When the internet went mainstream around 1995, the world may not have known what it was getting in to. Today, everything has changed. The world itself has changed and it seems now everything has gone global. The internet has been the driving force behind globalization, and different industries have been born, while others have faded away. Speaking of which, one of businesses that have boomed with the internet has been that of scams and fraud. As the internet expands and people around the world continue to get access, criminals are finding new and creative ways to steal your money, your identity or your personal information.
In the posthumous book of scientific astronomer Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1997) Sagan mentions that it is evolution itself in the information age that would bring the largest troubles to humanity. The evolution of the internet and online age is taking place so fast that few know or understand how to manage the new wealth of information flow, and the risks associated with it. People are now living their lives online, communicating with strangers on other sides of the planet, behind electronic profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Match.com and the countless other match-making and social media sites. With all this information for public view, scammers have found a gold mine and easy access to victims. If the number of fraud and scams cases being reported is any indication, Carl Sagan may have been right.
International private investigators have seen a significant increase in different types of scams and fraud cases involving the internet. As the internet develops, the criminals develop and change their tactics. It doesn’t take a fool to be a victim, and the FBI and Wymoo® and others agree that anyone can be a victim, and no social networking or online dating site is 100% immune from fraud. Posting personal information on the internet such as date of birth, full name and city and state where you live is a fast track to having your identity stolen, or an invitation for a scammer to target you by using your personal information in a complex internet scam approach.
Professional private investigators warn that romance scams and advance fee fraud are now mingled together and internet criminals now target individuals to corporations. Real documents can be used, real passport copies, and real government issued contracts. Scammers can be very informed on their topic or claimed industry, so the entire presentation can be quite convincing. In fact, professional scammers approach victims often through a “referral” from Facebook or Linkedin or other website, and may spend months engaging the victim in a friendly relationships. Only when the trust is established will the criminal attempt to execute the scam or fraud.
Important businesses have been defrauded by millions by trying to enter new markets in Southeast Asia. Investors chasing the gold rush have been taken for millions by criminals in Ghana, West Africa. International business deals with fake bank accounts set up in Hong Kong have raked in millions, and they continue to do so. Nigeria criminals now have accomplices operating in the U.K., so a Nigerian scammer can conduct fraud without ever mentioning Nigeria. Some scammers assume a real identity, so when you try to verify, you verify the identity that he or she has assumed, and this is designed to even increase your trust even more. The approaches and scam techniques used are seem endless and are evolving every day. Criminals are actively seeking new ways to scam individuals and businesses on the internet, and they stick with what works.
Professional private investigators urge caution online and never to reveal your personal data on the internet. If you’re considering doing business with a new contact in another country, or have a new personal relationships with someone abroad who you’ve met online, considering a discreet international background check to minimize your risk. Keeping your fingers crossed in the digital age simply isn’t enough.
Be safe and verify,
© 2011 Wymoo International