Dirty, no-good scammers are always utilizing different mediums in order to get you to fork over your hard-earned cash, personal information, or both.
There are all sorts of methods that they use to employ this. One of the most common cons are "phishing" scams sent from email addresses that appear to be genuine official corporate or government correspondence, but upon further inspection come from domains that don't coincide with whoever these dastardly criminals are pretending to be.
A good way of checking that out is to hover your mouse cursor over the actual email address (not the nickname attributed to the account). The main goal of any phishing scam is to get you to click on a link. That'll either prompt individuals to download malware onto their computer or add-browser extensions/keyloggers that'll steal your private information.
More commonly you'll be redirected to a website that'll ask you to input your personal data to rest an account password that's been compromised (more often than not, it hasn't been). In any event if you think that there's any shenanigans going on with your account you can't account for, it's best to go through whatever business/service's official website and use their links/prompts to get that done.
Another frequent con are money wiring/financial scams, something that this Dad encountered first-hand via WhatsApp.
Alan Baxter, an immunologist from Australia purportedly received a message on the popular service from someone claiming to be his son. "Hi dad this is my temp number I'm using an old device until my phone is repaired," the message reads.
Alan, concerned about his son asked if everything is all right. The scammers then write that his old phone is broken and he's rocking an ancient device to send him the message.
The messages seem innocuous enough: a son asking their parents for some money in a time of dire need. However, even before the fraudsters sent over the banking information to Alan, the researcher had a feeling that something was off: their poor grammar set off alarms in his head.
That's because Alan's son is an English teacher, and he would probably never be texting the way these crooks were. "My son is an English teacher so the lack of grammar and full-stops alerted me," he said in an interview with Daily Mail Australia.
He immediately contacted ANZ's banking service to let them know that someone was attempting to defraud him, "I first contacted ANZ's customer helpline but I was told it (the scam) wasn't related to the banks activities and there was nothing that they can do."
Mr. Baxter wasn't satisfied with just ignoring the messages, he wanted to coordinate with the banking institution in order to try and stop these criminals in their tracks, hopefully finding out who they were to prevent them from possibly defrauding other people in the future.
"I thought it was an opportunity for the bank to close or freeze the account and even investigate the funds it has received."
Unfortunately, Mr. Baxter said that the customer service representative for the bank didn't seem interested in taking down the scammer's banking information. After all, it did seem that the funds were going into a legitimate account and if said account was being used for potentially illegal activities, then wouldn't the bank want to know not to do business with such individuals?
At least that's what Alan (incorrectly) thought. He wrote on Twitter, "So a general warning: If anyone is trying to get you to send money to the following ANZ account, it is probably fraud: Name: George M M BSB: 016 080 Account number: 316157952."
He then offered a reason as to why the bank wouldn't be interested in curbing fraud: because they are financially invested in these transactions.
"They clearly profit from the fraud, provide the resources to enable it, and refuse to act even when offered evidence."
It appears that Alan's tweets caught the attention of ANZ employees online, as a representative of the institution said that they received the screenshots of the WhatsApp messages and were looking into the matter.
ANZ then updated Alan on Twitter stating that they were indeed looking into the account, placing temporary "restrictions" on it until a thorough investigation could be conducted.
"We were made aware of the issue and our teams promptly took steps to address it, including placing restraints on the account. As this matter is still under investigation, we’re unable to discuss further."
Several commenters who replied to Alan's tweet stated that they had encountered the same scam, and there are reports of people who fell for it, forking over tons of money in the process.
As a general rule of thumb before wiring money, don't do so over text. Especially over WhatsApp, as the application allows for phone calls as well. Try calling and speaking to the person who's claiming to be a family member, or try their actual number first.
The FTC has clear guidelines on how to avoid and report fraud. If you believe you've been a victim or fraud or think someone has contacted you in an attempt to entangle you in fraudulent activity, visit here for more information.