Money is an issue that concerns everyone.and even more so after a pandemic that has resulted in the fall of stock markets around the world and in the constant fear of entering an economic recession.

Added to this are the high unemployment rates that worry various regions around the world. In fact, according to the most recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only Colombia achieved an unemployment rate of 11.2 percent.

That’s when scammers come in, taking advantage of the situation of economic vulnerability which today a large part of the population must face.

(You may be interested in: Scam: fake letters circulate with alleged tax relief and discounts).

Con artists are often portrayed as cunning and manipulative who manage to steal without the victim noticing.

With deceit, lies and relying on the reactions of their victims, these criminals seek to steal money, belongings and even personal information through different means or channels.

Although talking about scams is not something new, as it has been a recurring theme in history and culture throughout the world, the methods used have been «refined» and become more complex over time.

In fact, according to research carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2020, which found more than 5,000 people in 99 territories of the world, it was found that 47 percent of those surveyed had been victims of some type of fraud in the last two years, with an average of six cases per company.

Various hoaxes happen through phone calls.

Overall, the most common frauds typically include customer deception, cybercrime, bribery, and corruption, which together cost $42 billion.

This, in turn, becomes more and more complicated as scammers are resorting more frequently to social engineering, the use of false identities and other strategies to deceive their victims. That is why we tell you about some of the most innovative scams -and other common ones- that are swarming around the world today.

Phishing: the cradle of deception

Have you ever received an unexpected message on your WhatsApp, telling you that Jeff Bezos himself wants to hire you for a unique opportunity at Amazon? Or perhaps an aunt – whose name is unknown – has written to you but asks for money to retrieve your bags abroad?

(We recommend: The true story of the false Spanish duke who dazzled his friends in Medellín).

In social networks several users around the world have reported this type of message.

Well, this is where the scams that use the internet as a channel to steal your money quickly and often without leaving a trace begin.

The theft of personal data, together with fraud, is one of the scourges that is most often ruled out for cyber users, according to several non-profit organizations, specialized cybersecurity companies, and government entities.

According to the results of a report published by the Colombian Chamber of Informatics and Telecommunications (CCIT), through its TicTac analysis tank and its Safe program, during the first six months of 2022, cybercrimes in Colombia presented an increase of 8 percent.

In other words, by July 2022, 29,778 complaints were registered, while in 2021 the figure -for that moment- had 27,498 complaints.

(Keep reading: This is how the gang would have stolen 1,100 million pesos with bank fraud).

But how do they do it? Although they may use suspicious links, social engineering is key here.

SIM swapping and phishing

According to Juan Copete, an engineer specializing in cybersecurity at the Universidad de Los Andes, One of the most common scams today has to do with identity theft through SIM card theft.

«When a cell phone is stolen, they no longer go directly to sell the device, but instead go directly for the critical data it houses. That’s when they take out the SIM card, insert it into a cell phone, which has no lock, and They begin to download bank applications and generate codes to implement thefts«He explained to EL TIEMPO.

When a cell phone is stolen, they no longer go directly to sell the device, but go directly for the critical data it houses.

It is then when, later, the identity fraud which can be defined as a social engineering technique used by cybercriminals to deceive people and obtain sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card information, and other personal information.

(Be sure to read: Alleged Amazon manager job offers by SMS are false).

This can be done from emails that may appear to be legitimate entities, but ultimately are just designed to steal information models.

«The change that has been seen over time has been great in terms of techniques of identity fraud They are more and more credible. Now the thugs try to be very focused on the public they want to attack,» he commented.

In addition, they also often call victims posing as banks or governments in order to «confirm data»question that will only provide more information to the perpetrator.

Congratulations! You have received a text message

All prizes are usually free. If you won a sweepstakes or contest, in theory you could never be charged to claim your prize.

According to a report published by the official page, complaints in the United States from consumers about fake prizes, sweepstakes and «free» gifts were the main ones reported in 2021, representing more than one in three complaints.
This is called smishing if it is a way of identity fraud by which someone tries to obtain sensitive information through a text message.

In Colombia, this type of deception can be evidenced in text messages, which usually impersonate large brands and chains, assuring that the subject was the winner of a car or prize of great value.

«They really do it a lot from jail. They send text messages telling people they have won a prize and they should call a number, which then lends itself to deception or extortion,» explained Kevin Babativa, a consultant and computer engineer specializing in cybersecurity.

If someone comes to your house claiming to have won a prize, asks you for money via text message, or tells you that you have to pay to claim a prize, it’s important to be wary. This recommendation is especially valid if you have never registered in any raffle.

Spoofing: the most common identity theft

He identity fraud is a technique used in computing to falsify the identity of a userdevice or system, in order to deceive other users, devices or systems and achieve their own benefit or cause harm.

However, this can be done physically. The most common involves phone calls in which the perpetrator pretends to be a service company and ends up asking the victim for some personal information.

(Read here: Crepes and Waffles: the restaurant chain warns its customers of scams).

Likewise, this also happens when a person impersonates another in order to ask for money or create situations in which users are forced to give up financially due to supposed dangers. Here, according to Copete, come the false calls in which help or remuneration is requested in exchange for something specific.

In these cases, both Babativa and Copete recommend reporting the case in a timely manner to the appropriate authorities. You can do it at first through the virtual CAI of the Police.

In addition, You can go to the Prosecutor’s Office to report the facts and, in such a case, you can even file a guardianship.

You can also read:

‘Black widow’: woman drugged and stole millions from a man she met on Tinder

The ways they are using to rob the elderly in Bogota

So you can detect when they want to be through a phone call

Laura Natalia Bohorquez Roncancio