Trying to manage a household, a job and home school our children is not easy. It’s hard to keep track of everything that’s going on, the digital communications that you are receiving as parents, as well as what our children receive through their social networks, gaming and messaging platforms. Unfortunately there are those out there with malicious intent who know that we are all still going at 100 miles per hour and therefore not paying complete attention all of the time.
With that in mind, our friends from Beat The CyberBully have collated four of the most prevalent new scams to keep an eye out for in a time where both children and adults are effectively being forced to spend more time online.
‘You’ve been in contact with someone that has COVID 19’
These emails can look quite official, even containing government logos and what look like government email addresses. This is an obvious and easy one for scammers, but which works well because of the fear that people have around contracting COVID.
So what should you do if you receive an email like this?
Take a little time, even when you are flat out, to actually read the email. Check the level of English in the copy, look at the email addresses, are they official? Are they gmail? Even if they look official, are they real? Check the email in the From section first and if it is ‘firstname.lastname@example.org then that’s a clue. Then look at other email addresses in the body of the content. A common tell tale sign is a letter that is out of place, or an omission. At a glance, would you notice the difference between these two emails – email@example.com or mohamed@pmoffIce.gov.ae?
‘Your flight has been cancelled’
These emails unfortunately work very well as so many of us do have flights, or had flights, booked and it’s perfectly feasible that it could have been cancelled, postponed or moved.
In this instance the communication will usually take you through to a website that potentially looks like it could be from the airline you are booked with. But once again, be wary and check the addresses, the copy and then of course the destination URL that it is asking you to click through to. Most email clients allow you to see a preview of the site and the URL. If you get so far as the website and it’s asking you for usernames and passwords, be very wary. Treat your passwords like your toothbrush, don’t share them with anyone. (Children should only be sharing with mum and dad, no one else).
‘Click here for this one time offer’
This kind of scam is aimed at children and young people as it’s usually an offer associated with the game they are playing. So whether that’s Fortnite, PUBG, Clash of Clans, Call of Duty or BitLife, the offer usually refers to discounted loot boxes, armour, upgrades or in-game cash.
Sadly, this kind of scam has gone through the roof during COVID and lock down, specifically because children are, or have been, distance learning online. Whilst they are online for school work, during a 40 minute zoom lesson, it’s very easy to get distracted. These offers tend to come via email but also WhatsApp and it only takes a second to look away from the school lesson and click a link. That is what these communications tend to be – short and to the point. ‘Click here to get 1000 Vbucks for $1’ – it’s an offer that is very hard for a young person to ignore or say no to.
‘Purchase the blood of a COVID 19 survivor to protect yourself from the virus’
This final one is a bit out there, but it’s worth being aware of as it brings everything else into perspective.
The scam focuses on fear and it only exists and maintains any success if the fear is there. However, it goes without saying that this is a complete scam, regardless of your standing on this current situation. Sending any money for something like this that appears online will result in you being scammed – if it pops up in any of your digital channels, delete it.
Written by Barry Cummings at Beat The CyberBully.
About Beat The CyberBully
Beat The CyberBully is an initiative that aims to increase education and awareness around online safety and digital wellbeing, reputation management, cyber bullying, and positive online, mobile and social media use.
The new app, Beat The CyberBully powered by CoBabble, provides all the latest information, advice and recommendations around cybersafety from Barry Lee Cummings and his experienced team, as well as from therapists and healthcare professionals. You can download it here: https://btcb.cobabble.ae