Scammers are becoming more creative and relying heavily on the internet to steal money from people without getting caught.

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The website Kyros, an anti money-laundering and financial site, highlights a few of the top scams to watch out for in 2023, including cryptocurrency-romance scams, payday loan scams, OTP bot scams, puppy purchase scams, and free-gift QR code scams.

Scammers often use psychological tactics to gain their target's trust and manipulate them into making impulsive decisions.

Scammers have always been around, but these days, they’re becoming more and more creative, as the newest trends inspire them to find new ways to scam the public. You're probably familiar with some of the more oft-used scams, like "You're bank account has been locked," or "Your Amazon Account needs to have information verified," so the majority of people are less likely to fall for them. So scammers have updated their methods and are now relying heavily on the internet as an easier way to steal your money without getting caught.

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Cryptocurrency-romance scam

This might not seem like an obvious combination, but cryptocurrencies combined with romance have successfully made scammers loads of cash. Con artists will often pose as potential internet love interests and trick their targets into downloading an app and investing in fake cryptocurrencies. They go as far as to claim they have invested in the cryptocurrency themselves. Since the app keeps showing growth in your wealth, you’re highly likely to believe it. In the meantime, the scammers are actually taking your money.

How to protect yourself: Don’t rush into investment! Make sure to carefully inspect any investment opportunity that comes your way, especially if it seems too good to be true. Keep your guard up because crooks will patiently wait for you to start trusting them, and they’ll strike when you least expect it.

 

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Payday Loan Scams

If a random person on the internet offers to help settle all your bills, politely decline and move on. No matter how convincing and trustworthy they may seem, if something seems too good to be true, that’s probably because it is. Scammers are exploiting the workers hit by inflation and offering them payday loans to help settle their bills, but are asking for fees in advance. The money you give them to cover the fees goes straight into the criminal’s pocket and you get nothing.

How to protect yourself: Be careful around anyone who asks you to pay a loan fee via an untraceable payment method such as a gift card.

 

One-time password (OTP) bot scam

Scammers will go as far as to disguise themselves as bots (automated programmes) in order to deceive people into sharing the two-factor authentication codes. These codes are normally sent via text or email from financial institutions, but scammers actually use bots who appear to be texting/emailing you from the bank. Then, they ask you to authorize a charge and enter the authentication code you’ve received from the bank in case the transaction isn’t yours. That way, a bot tries to log into your bank account by stealing the code the bank sent you.

How to protect yourself: Under no circumstances should you send the authentication code to anyone, especially if you get a call or a text message from a number you don’t recognize.

 

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Puppy purchase scam

Dog lovers also get exploited by con artists who use their love for dogs to trick them into sending money in advance for the dog’s travel insurance and other similar expenses. The dog, however, doesn’t even exist, so the crooks just take the money sent by the potential buyer and they disappear.

How to protect yourself: The safest bet is to go to the animal shelter and take a look at the dogs available there. If you decide to look online, make sure to do a reverse image search to make sure the dog’s photo isn’t stolen. Do not make any payments until you see the dog in person.

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Free-gift QR code scam

QR codes are used on a daily basis nowadays as they’re very convenient, especially when you want to take a look at restaurant menus or make fast payments. Con artists are aware of this and are putting fake codes over the real ones to scam you by redirecting you to a malicious website.  They may also call you and say they’re going to send you a free-gift QR code, but once you scan it, you end up on a sketchy website.

How to protect yourself: Contact the person or a company that sent you the QR code if you ever receive one unexpectedly and use a phone number you know is authentic.

Conclusion

Be careful whenever you receive messages or requests from unknown individuals online. More often than not, a crook may try and scam you into taking your money, regardless of how trustworthy they seem. Keep your personal information private at all times, and always double check your money transfers.

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