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Prevention & Understanding: Bank Transfer Scams

One of the most common variety of scams at the start of 2023 are bank transfer scams, and they come in different flavors – like the Zelle transfer scam, or the identity theft scam. Here’s some information on how they work and how to prevent you or your loved ones from becoming a victim of these types of scams.

Zelle transfer scams

Zelle transfer scams utilize the payment service Zelle to facilitate payments between the victim and an account the scammer’s control. The accounts the scammers control are often the stolen accounts of previous victims that are being used to launder exactly these types of fraudulent payments – these stolen accounts are used in most types of bank transfer scams. These scams are usually initiated in various ways, including but not limited to: e-mails or texts about your bank account being compromised, payment confirmation texts, messages or calls from people claiming to be with the government or with a utility company, and debt collectors. If you interact with the scammers, they will eventually attempt to guide you through the process of sending money through a Zelle transfer to an account the scammer controls. These transactions are extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to reverse, so as always, never send money to someone you don’t know.

Identity theft scams

Identity theft transfer scams usually begin with a phone call, text, or voicemail about how your personal details were used to make a series of unauthorized purchases, or were used by someone committing crimes. The scammers will then attempt to spin a story about how moving your money to a “decoy account” or “safe account” can protect your money from being either stolen or frozen during the “investigation” into the apparent identity theft. These types of scams usually end with the scammers instructing the victim to send a bank transfer to another account – they will even sometimes coerce them into lying to their bank during the process, so the bank staff won’t alert the person that they are potentially being scammed. If they feel as though it’s too risky to receive a bank transfer from the victim, they will instead instruct them to purchase gift cards to “secure” their money. They may also instruct the victim to lie to store staff about the reason for the gift card purchases, so as not to prompt them to inform the victim that they are possibly being scammed.

Imposter Scams

Imposter scams are exactly what they sound like – someone on a text, call, or voicemail pretending to be someone they are not in order to get you to transfer money to them. The scammers will often pretend to be the victim’s child or grandchild that is experiencing some sort of trouble or in some kind of emergency, or a member of a government or law enforcement organization. These types of scams use a lot of simple tech tricks and social engineering tactics, like spoofing official phone numbers to seem legitimate, and stories that provoke urgency and fear. The point of these scams is to frenzy the victim and get them to make a transfer fast, which leaves the victim with little or no time to process what’s happening.

Romance Scams

A romance scam is any scam where the victim is tricked into believing they are in a relationship with a person they have not yet met, when in fact the person on the other end is someone using fake accounts to scam unsuspecting individuals looking for love. These scams aren’t just on dating sites, they’re also commonly found on Facebook and other social media platforms. One of the most commonly told lies romance scammers tell is that they have a career far away from you, which is a convenient way for them to explain away their inability to meet up with you any point, and why they will cancel every plan made to do so. They will also often times be overly-affectionate and loving, a technique called “love bombing” that is often used as a manipulation tactic to take advantage of people who seem starved for positive attention. Eventually, the scammer will want money for something that goes along with whatever fake backstory they’ve crafted for their persona; a plane ticket, their phone or utility bill, medical expenses, debts, etc. Some scammers will continue to steal money from a victim until the relationship is discovered and questioned, or until their savings are gone. Others will take the money and disappear the moment it’s been safely laundered and deposited into their account.

Remember: Never let strangers onto your computer remotely, and never send money to someone you don’t know.

JANUARY 2, 2023
Authored here @ hello internet.