Internet and Email Fraud
Before the advent of the World Wide Web, consumers were defrauded mainly by telemarketing and direct mail scams. Now, consumers are cheated by illegitimate businesses misrepresenting products and services, failing to deliver purchased goods, or by charging hidden fees, just to name a few internet scams. Internet Privacy is at risk as criminals use email to deliver fraudulent messages asking for personal information.
According to the US Secret Service, hundreds of millions of dollars are lost annually due to email fraud in the e-commerce industry and the losses are escalating. Most email fraud and internet scams happen when fraudsters obtain access to your account numbers and passwords.
Most email messages that look like they come from a legitimate source are "Phishing" scams. They ask you to verify or update your current personal information and use this information to commit identity theft.
While Phishing scams are currently the most common types of Internet scam, "pop-up" scams are the oldest. A window pops up on your computer screen, usually announcing that you are going to win a prize, and all you have to do is provide some information—enough to commit identity theft. Of course you never receive the prize.
Email fraud often occurs in chain mail. Never send money or personal information to people on lists via chain mail, or from whom you've received chain mail.
Buying and selling online is big business, and fraud is one of the biggest problems for the e-commerce industry. According to a survey conducted by Cybersource, a provider of electronic payment and risk management services, E-commerce fraud costs retailers approximately $4 billion each year. Some common online fraud scams to be aware of include:
- Buying something that doesn't arrive, typically from sites such as eBay or Craigslist (see example below)
- Selling something and delivering it but not getting paid, such as online auction sites
- Your purchase doesn't match the original description. (see example below)
- You hoped to win a lottery prize and paid an administrative or advance fee but didn't get the cash.
- An online business opportunity that didn't have the return you expected.
- Receiving a letter or email from someone who promised a share of a substantial fortune in return for your help, such as the Nigerian Bank Scam or lotteries
- Buying pirated software
- Making a bad investment based on advice received by email or a website
- Responding to fraudulent emails asking for personal information or clicking on an attachment that has been linked to a virus(see example below)
eBay is committed to maintaining a safe environment for its community of customers. To protect the security of your account, eBay employs some of the most advanced security systems in the world and our anti-fraud teams regularly screen the eBay system for unusual activity.
We are contacting you to remind you that on
To secure your account and quickly restore full access, we may require some additional information from you for the following reason:
We have been notified that a card associated with your account has been reported as lost or stolen, or that there were additional problems with your card.
This process is mandatory, and if not completed within the nearest time your account or credit card may be subject for temporary suspension.
To securely confirm your eBay information please click on the link below
Example of Email Fraud from PayPal:
Dear PayPal Customer,
This is your final warning about the safety of your PayPal account. If you do not update your billing informations your access on PayPal features will be restricted and the user deleted. This might be due to either following reasons:
- A recent change in your personal information (i.e. change of address)
- Submiting invalid information during the initial sign up process.
- An inability to accurately verify your selected option of payment due to an internal error within our processors.
Example of Email Fraud from the FBI:
We have logged your IP-address on more than 30 illegal Websites.
Important: Please answer our questions! The list of questions are attached.
Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI-
These emails are being sent out with email addresses of email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
To stay updated on New E-Scams & Warnings, visit the FBI Investigative Programs and Cyber Investigations online.
Online Gambling Fraud
Other online gambling fraud includes:
- Collusion, such as through illicit real-time information sharing using instant messaging during poker games;
- Money laundering;
- Identity theft;
- Bot gaming, or gaining an unfair advantage in skill games by using software to solve puzzles and mimic a human player;
- Credit card fraud;
- Bonus abuse, such as the creation of multiple accounts to obtain repeated risk-free bets and;
- False charge-backs, which trick credit card companies into paying back losing bets.
Conviction of Internet and Email Fraud can include:
- State or Prison
- Restitution (paying back any funds taken)
- Loss of employment (for those with licenses or security clearances)
A class action suit enables consumers who may not have suffered a significant injury or wrong to join others who have suffered alike. Joining forces allows people to collectively seek compensatory damages through a single trial, which can save both time and money, and help consumers recover their losses.