419 Scams Double, Over $9 Billion in Profits

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

A recent study by Dutch investigation firm Ultrascan shows we are half as smart (or twice as dumb) as we were in 2008 as advanced fee scams doubled in losses to over $9 billion. 419 Advance Fee Fraud Statistics 2009 (PDF)

It is believed that while the scams are known to be Nigerian in nature, coined after the 419 Nigerian code making them illegal, scams were launched from 69 other countries in 2009.  The reason for the jump in the amount of victims is due to a broader reach of the scammer. Scammers aren’t just targeting English speaking nations anymore. As people in developing countries get computers and a connection to the Internet, they become susceptible to the same old scam other countries got snagged by a decade ago.

Big targets have become China, India, South Korea, Vietnam, and others. Many of the scams of the past had an “insurance fee” pitch that required a percentage of money sent in order to insure so many millions made their way to another bank somewhere. This “investment” by the victim was supposed to get them a percentage of the big pot. Once the scammer got a hold of the victims, they would build a relationship with them, in many cases romantically, to get them emotionally involved in the ruse.

However in China, the Chinese get hooked by lottery scams. And in India, a culture of hard workers, people fall for student visa and job placement scams. The hook in all these scams is the victim believes an inbound communication to be legitimate. From there, the scammers will say and do anything to get the victims to wire money. But it usually doesn’t end there. Once they get a rube on the hook, they will come up with as many reasons as possible to completely drain the victim of all their money.

Criminals aren’t any smarter than we are, but they know how to capitalize on our stupidity. They pull on emotional strings, they use greed, lust and many other human impulses to trigger us. Come on people; please just don’t be stupid, OK? And tell those in your life who are less than cognizant, just hit delete.

Protect your identity:

1. Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.

2. Invest in anti-virus and keep it auto-updated and check out my spyware killer IDTheftSecurty HERE

3. Go to my website and get my FREE ebook on how to protect yourself from the bad guy.

4. Invest in Intelius identity theft protection and prevention. Not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, but identity theft protection services can dramatically reduce your risk. (Disclosures)

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses various scams on TBS’s Movie and a Makeover.

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