Chances are, either you or someone you know has fallen victim to a scam or two. Unfortunately, scams happen often, and anyone can become a victim.
Learning how to protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to fraud is a valuable skill. However, finding those who attempt to hurt you or the ones you love often can lead someone down a dark path.
Unfortunately, scammers are becoming more sophisticated and savvy. They are constantly finding new ways to target their victims via email, dating websites, texting, phone calls, and other avenues of technology. In addition, technology is constantly evolving, making it easier for scammers to find new ways to target their victims.
Scammers are often INTELLIGENT people who consistently use new technology and current events to instill a specific emotion (such as fear) that causes their victims to respond. As a result, it has become a more challenging task to not only identify a scam but also (once the scam is identified) how to find a scammer. It is important to identify a scammer, but it is also not always the best idea to contact a scammer when found. Although the authorities often handle most scam cases, here is what to do if you or your loved one are somehow involved in one.
Types Of Scams
There are SO MANY ways for scammers to get a hold of personal information.
For example, scammers can send fraudulent phishing emails to gather private information such as their victim's password. Their tactic is to trick the email receiver into thinking that their account isn't protected and instill a sense of urgency to fix the issue. Scammers are great at finding loopholes and new tactics.
More Popular Scam Tactics
- Catfishing scammers trick lonely online daters into giving them money.
- Phone scammers will text/call their potential victims and take advantage of their empathetic side by pretending to be from a charity organization that needs money.
- Online dating scammers will try to take advantage of vulnerable people looking for love.
Unfortunately, there are many different types of scams. If you are using any form of technology, you are at risk of being misled by one. That is why it is essential to know how to locate a scammer.
Common Scams To Avoid
If you want to avoid being scammed and protect your loved ones from scammers, there are several different types of the most common scams that are made possible through technology that you will want to learn how to prevent.
These widespread scams are:
Online dating scams
Fraudulent website scams
Let's take a closer look at each of these scams, and I can teach you how to check a scammer.
Online Dating Scams
Many people who go online looking for love will be scammed because they are often in a vulnerable state of mind. It's easy for scammers to create fake dating profiles on almost any dating website.
These online "catfishers" typically will steal someone else's photo and use it to get someone to fall in love with them and trust them.
Scammers will groom their victims using online dating websites as well as other forms of communication. An example would be communication on social media messaging services such as Facebook messaging, texting, emailing, etc.
There are plenty of scammers on Facebook and other social media avenues, so please be aware of this if you start to connect with someone you have met through a social networking website.
So how can you tell if the person you are talking to is a scammer? Once a scammer knows that they trust their victim, they will begin to ask for help, usually by asking for financial assistance. In 2019, the FTC reported that Americans lost $201 million to romance scams. This number is almost double the amount of what was lost in 2018.
To add to this growing issue, more people are using the internet due to the COVID-19, and the amount of money lost to romance scams in 2021 will likely be higher than any previous year.
|Consider this: The $201 million was the number reported in 2019 for money lost in romance scams. However, the amount of money lost is potentially much higher as not all scams get reported. |
How to track an online dating scammer:
If you or someone you know are dating online, an online dater needs to track any person they are communicating with.
A few simple tricks to catch a dating scammer:
Use their photo: Use their picture to perform an image search on Google to see if it is stolen from somewhere else. Google Image Search
Use Google's basic search engine feature: It's easy to look anyone up on Google to learn more about their true identity; if you are talking to a real person, they should have some digital trail. On the other hand, if you cannot find the person anywhere online, they probably don't exist. Or, you may find information online, revealing that the scammer is posing as another person.
Perform a reverse phone lookup: You can also perform a reverse phone lookup, or people search by name lookup on a people search directory to try and find out more about them. People search directories are great resources that have access to billions of records. You can use these directories to lookup and name or phone number.
Look at their social media accounts: Try to locate their social media profiles. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are common ones. If you cannot find them on social media, this could be a red flag. You may also use social media to find that the scammer has used another person's identity without permission.
A reverse phone lookup or people's search by name can also help you locate their social media profiles.
There are countless ways for a scammer to take someone's money or personal information over the phone. For example, scammers can access credit cards, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and other personal information through texting and calling.
For example, scammers use simple tricks such as the scam tactic where they call and pretend to be from the IRS. Typically, when the scammers call and use this tactic, they give you a phone call to try and pretend to be an IRS agent. But, of course, the IRS will NEVER call you before they first send you a letter in the mail; but not everyone knows that.
Simply looking up the phone number calling will more than likely prove that the IRS isn't on the other line.
How to track a phone scammer:
There are a few easy ways to perform a scammer phone number lookup. However, some methods are more successful than others.
A few simple tricks to catch a phone scammer:
Perform a reverse phone lookup: The most successful way to lookup a phone number is to perform a reverse phone lookup to see if there is any available information on the owner of the phone number, such as their name and physical address.
Google phone lookup: Lookup the phone number on Google. Sometimes people will report a phone number on scamming sites, or the phone number may have been shared somewhere else online.
Know when to pick up the phone: Never answer the phone if it is an unfamiliar phone number. Once a scammer reaches you, they can mark your number as active. Instead, report any suspicious calls to the Federal Trade Commission: Federal Trade Commission- Report Fraud
Gone are the days when the smartest email scammers use broken language in their emails and claim to be Nigerian princes. Instead, email scammers have become quite savvy, creating emails that sometimes even trick the most tech-smart individuals.
For example, email scammers will mimic emails from popular websites to get their victims to provide their usernames and passwords to big sites such as Target.
These emails are called phishing emails, and while some of them are legit (there are necessary reasons that you would need to change your password), others are clearly (or not so clearly) from scammers.
Phishing emails have gotten popular enough that large websites (such as Amazon) have created an area where their customers can report spoofing emails. Amazon's report page
These reports help big companies identify and catch a hacker trying to use their business to steal from their clients. However, as much as scammer's try to use big businesses to steal their customer's information, these companies must have their own tactics to prevent fraudulent activity associated with their business (even if it isn't their fault).
How to track an email scammer:
You never want to fall victim to an email scam. Unfortunately, these scams are (in my opinion) the easiest to fall victim to. It's simple to make emails seem familiar, and scammers don't have to communicate using their voice via email. In addition, it's harder to locate a hacker when sending you an email, as there is almost nothing personal about emails.
Scammers from all over the world can use a well-constructed email and send it to thousands of people at once- making it easy to fool multiple people at an alarming rate. The success rate for phishing emails is quite astounding- in 2020, 75% of companies in the United States fell victim to a successful phishing attack.
So how do you avoid becoming a victim of a phishing email scam?
A few simple tricks to catch an email scammer:
Look at the sender's email address: Instead of looking at the sender's name, look at the email address that It's sent from. Usually, scammers can change the name to anything they want to (such as from Amazon), but if you look at the email that It's sent from, if it's a scam, it won't be from a website verified email address.
Validate the email address: If you're not sure if the email address is valid, you can look up the email address on Google. If it is the company's email address, it should pop up on your Google search results somewhere on its website.
Report a scam: If you believe that the email address is a scam email, you could also report the email address to the FTC so that they can investigate.
Fraudulent Website Scams
Scammers trick people through online websites by pretending to be legitimate online retailers, either through setting up a fake retail website or creating ads on a real retail website. The most popular way that scammers do this is by setting up a very appealing website to the eye, claiming to sell luxury brands at a highly discounted rate.
How to track a fraudulent website scammer:
If you see a deal that looks too good to be true on a website or an ad, you might want to follow your instinct.
A few simple tricks to catch a fraudulent website scammer:
Check the website's security: Look to see if the website is secure; all retail websites should be secure when requesting your credit card information.
Be picky with who you give your money to: To avoid being scammed, try to only purchase from well-known online retail websites or from online retailers that you know.
Use software: Use antivirus software to prevent unsafe websites and protect your computer.
Reach out to the FTC: Report fraudulent websites to the FTC so that fraudulent websites don't dupe other people.
Dispute the charge: If a fraudulent website has scammed you, you can dispute the charge.
Knowing how to find a hacker is important. However, it is rarely a good idea to be in contact with a scammer. A scammer could be dangerous or scam you while you are trying to identify them.
Identifying what is real and a scam and knowing how to track and report a scammer is the best way to catch a scammer. Not only in this situation are you aware of the danger that you are in (and can protect yourself), but by reporting the scammer to the FTC or business/person, they are impersonating, you can help put an end to their scamming ways (and they may even get in some legal trouble).
My best advice is to avoid all contact with a scammer once you have established that they are unsafe. If you are busy trying to "capture" them, your scammer might attempt to get their hands on your money or harm you in some other way. This is the scammer's goal, and they probably aren't scared of you.
Do NOT give them any personal information if you do try to contact or continue to contact a scammer (I strongly advise you not to). They can use almost any personal information to learn more about you, be safe, and be smart.