Policing lecturer explains most common online scams for Safer Internet Day

Categories: School of Health and Society

From cyberbullying to social networking to digital identity, each year Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and current concerns.

Before joining the University of Salford, Danielle Lilley was a digital media investigator. Now a lecturer in policing, she shares her thoughts on three of the most common online scams to be aware of this Safer Internet Day.

  • Ticket fraud 

Danielle explains this is where tickets for concerts or events are offered for sale, but the tickets don’t actually exist. “My advice is if the price of a ticket sounds too good to be true, be suspicious. Question the motives of someone selling tickets for expensive and popular events at less than face value. Try to stick to approved ticket outlets and verified reselling sites – you may pay more but you have more protection if something goes wrong.”

  • Bank account mules 

Danielle says these scams involve criminals approach you and offering you money to allow them to run assets through your bank account. “Never allow people to utilise your bank account to put payments in and make withdrawals whilst paying you. It might sound like money for nothing, but it amounts to money laundering, opens you up to criminal convictions and could result in your bank account being frozen.”

  • Sextortion fraud

This can be a form of romance fraud, Danielle tells us. “This can happen when someone willingly shares private or intimate images with someone who isn’t who they say they are. Or it might be that hackers have gained entry to your social media accounts and found the images. The criminals may then demand a ransom, threatening that if you don’t pay up, they will share the images with family, friends or workplaces.

“People often feel embarrassed by this type of scam, but it is never your fault – blackmail and extortion are serious crimes and so it is really important to talk to a person you trust and ask for help. Don’t pay – if you do hand over any money, the criminals will often just ask for more and are very unlikely to keep any promises they may have made to destroy the images. 

“If you meet someone online who has sent you a photograph of themselves, conduct a reverse image search to see if there are any red flags of their identity being fake. Insist on speaking to them in a video call. Question the motives of someone who will not show you what they look like in a video chat but then asks you to send intimate images. 

“If you suspect hackers have obtained your images, change all your passwords to prevent hackers regaining control. Use strong encryption including capital letters, numbers and special characters and turn on two factor authentication on your accounts.”

Find out more about cyber-crime and how to stay safe online here.

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