The Online Scams of the Month: Minecraft, WhatsApp, and a Canadian Pharmacy

May 3, 2018

12:45 pm

Online scams have become as much a part of the internet as cat videos and social media arguments. From ridiculous claims by “Nigerian princes” to extremely convincing fake login pages, cyber criminals have evolved their methods. Awareness of the latest scam threats is your most valuable tool when it comes to protecting your personal information.

Unfortunately, with cyber security measures constantly playing catch up, it can be hard to know which of your many accounts has the potential to betray you. Fortunately, we’ve put together a rock solid list of the latest online scams trying to steal your personal information.

WhatsApp – Free Tickets

Photo: Naked Security

Catching online scams is obviously no easy task. But one good thing to remember when trying to spot a cyber criminal in the act is that “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

This particular scam utilizes WhatsApp to lure in travel-thirsty users into giving up their personal information in pursuit of a free trip for two on Virgin Atlantic. However, if you look closely at the URL, you’ll notice a small dot underneath the “r,” a clear sign of an inauthentic website and, consequently, an obvious phishing scam.

Those that fall for it are directed to a brief survey that slowly but surely asks for your personal information. Laden with Virgin Atlantic branding and fake positive social media reviews, the survey eventually directs you to a single button that will automatically share it with 20 of your friends. And, if you press that, the rest, as they say, will be history.

Minecraft – Character Skins

Photo: PC Authority

Clicking on dubious links in notoriously unsecured apps is one thing. But, most people view video games as protected from hackers and phishing scams. Unfortunately for some Minecraft users, this is not the case.

The popular world-building game allows users to download custom character skins for their avatars. Unfortunately, a few of these skins have been infected with malicious code, allowing hackers to reformat users’ hard drives and delete backup data and system programs.

Because Minecraft is so popular with younger demographics, this influx of malware is particularly troubling. Young users are hardly equipped with the knowledge to fend off these attacks, which could lead to serious problems in the gaming community if security doesn’t become a priority.

Canadian Pharmacy – Coupon Code

Photo: Tech.Co

Let’s be honest, if you fall for this one, you might need to take an online security class or two before you’re allowed back on the internet, no matter how high your medical bills are.

In what can only be described as a hilarious email, hackers posing as a “Canadian Pharmacy” (terrible branding) offer a huge deal on a wide range of medications of the little blue pill variety. However, contrary to the old adage, this scam attempt is too bad to be true.

Whether it’s the frequent typos, the 1990s web design, or the coupon code “bigboners,” this lazy attempt at phishing shouldn’t make it out of your spam folder. But if it does somehow permeate the impenetrable wall of spam blockers, avoid at all costs.

Steam – Free Gear

Apparently, hackers have a new playground, because Steam, a popular stomping ground for everything gaming, has become a hotbed of phishy activity.

One particularly effective tactic has been offering free gear via direct messages or social media comments. The malicious link will lead to a dummy login page, disguised to look like the authentic Steam page, specifically one of these inauthentic links:

  • steam.stearncommunity.click
  • steamcammunitty.com
  • steamcammunity.ml
  • steamcamrnunitty.com
  • steamcommmunnity.ml

Once you’ve input your details, your account will likely be stolen and subsequently sold to the highest bidder, leaving you with no account, no games, and no refund.

Venmo – Unconfirmed Transfers

Despite the inherent concerns about financial apps, Venmo has established itself as the go-to money transferring app on the market today. Unfortunately, even with all their security measures in place, you can’t stop every hacker.

A new type of scam takes advantage of Venmo’s diligent and immediate account updates. Users will sell an item to a scammer who offers to pay via Venmo. Once the payment is in your account, you ship the product, and the process is complete. At least, that’s what they want you to think.

What many don’t realize is that, despite your account showing otherwise, funds do not immediately transfer into your Venmo; processing takes at least a few days. Consequently, after receiving your product, scammers will retract their payment, leaving you with no money and no product.

Read more about other online scams on TechCo

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Senior Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Senior Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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