Technology is helping to make all facets of life easier. With a click of a mouse you can connect with people around the world.
But, the internet is making it easier for scammers to connect with you.
You see it all the time, your email’s spam folder is full of messages from scammers. There are the classics.You’ve become an instant millionaire, or the other go-to- Your friend is stuck in a foreign country, and needs your money. But scammers are getting more creative.
After being laid off, Michael McClean explored every avenue to find a new job. “In addition to going to the different job services out there, and door to door to find places, also was online.”
So when an email from “Roger 21” came into Michael’s inbox, he simply thought it was about a job opportunity.
McClean said, “Email looked like all the other employer emails that I have gotten...Open it up and it was the secret shopper job.”
A secret shopper gets paid to go to a work place and evaluate their experience. “It sounded like it would be fun.”
But then it started to sound a little suspicious.
McClean said, “Nobody is going to send you anything or hire you without an app. No, the next email I got from him was telling me how it works and they will be mailing me a certified check, assignments and what to do with it.”
In fact it was a $2,850 check with instructions to cash it, be a secret shopper in Western Union and wire the money in a short time frame.
McClean said, “Well it is the x amount of time that it takes for this thing not to clear and you are holding the bag. And you’ve sent out this much money and that much money. And they’ve collected anywhere from 700 to 1,000 dollars off of you.”
Headland Police Chief Mark Jones said, “If it sounds to good to be true it is probably not true.”
McClean didn’t fall for it, but a lot of people are not so lucky.
Last year the FBI said 289, 874 internet crime complaints were filed.
Chief Jones said, “Cyber crime is not going anywhere, you know technology you can buy a computer today and next week it is outdated. And unfortunately that’s how technology works, it is very fast. And with the new stuff that comes out, it don’t take long for the hackers and people doing these scams to figure out how to overcome the security they put on them.”
As technology and scammers evolve, there are sites like Snopes.com to help web surfers keep up.
Chief Jones said, “It’s a good sight you can go to that actually reports these scams. And it helps out a lot. Just go type information with the scam and usually if it is going on it is on there.”
McClean said, “The more and more people know about it, the less and less victims there are. Which means there is less and less opportunity for these guys and they will go away.”
Investigators couldn’t figure out who was behind the secret shopper scam. Unfortunately, the majority of scammers are not in the US.
But, if you think you are being preyed on by a scammer call your local law enforcement agency.
According to the FBI the total amount lost by people who fell victim to cyber crime last year was more than $525 million. Florida ranks second for the highest number of complaints.