The more sophisticated technology becomes, the more adept scammers get at tricking and robbing us.
Be careful! Scammers will be using new tactics in 2024, like deepfake impersonation. Because of this, developing a zero-trust mentality can help you avoid falling for these con artists.
1. Scams using Deepfake impersonation
Say your CEO gives you a voicemail telling you to send money to a bank account. Without recognizing that the voice note is a deepfake, you obey the instructions. And without warning, you have been a victim of fraud. Deepfakes make use of AI technologies to create new – but fake – images, videos, and/or audio material from existing material, “Artificial intelligence (AI) technology makes it easier for fraudsters to create these convincing fake messages from people you know and trust,” explains Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 AFRICA. “It enables scammers to generate video and audio that is so convincing, many believe it is real.”
Fraudsters also pretend to be family members, including grandchildren, and ask for money under false pretenses by using AI-generated voice notes or videos. We refer to this as a grandparent scam. According to Collard, “people get scammed that way because hearing an authentic-sounding voice clip of their loved one triggers their emotions and they want to help.”
Deepfakes can also be used fraudulently to spread misinformation or confusion by posing as politicians. 2024 is an election year, so this is something to be aware of, according to Collard.
2. Investment scams
Investment fraudsters may pose as reliable financial institutions offering enormous profits. Collard asserts, “That being said, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.” She suggests using caution in these circumstances. Scammers frequently mix romance scams with cryptocurrency frauds.
In 2024, there will be another fraud to be aware of: fictitious loans that appear to have low interest rates but never do. Rather, victims must give their personal information or pay upfront fees. “Be extremely wary of any offers that seem too good to be true, as scammers may tempt many people to apply for these loans in order to make ends meet given the ongoing cost of living crisis.”
3. Romance Scams
Scammers gain victims’ trust by creating false accounts on dating apps or social media, then take advantage of this emotional bond to deceive them into giving money. Collard says that even though family members may constantly warn the victim, they frequently carry out the romantic deceit because, once the victim is in the trap, it is psychologically very difficult for their brains to acknowledge that they have been duped.
4. Theft of identities and social media profiles
Identity theft is the theft of personal data for fraudulent purposes. Similar to banking frauds, scammers accomplish this by calling or sending phishing emails. “Social media profile theft involves hackers hijacking your social media accounts to reach out to your contacts, pretending to be you, spreading malicious software, scams or asking for money,” says Collard.
5. Charitable fraud
Charity scams usually surface following a humanitarian disaster, such as a flood. Collard says, “These scams prey on your emotions and ask you to donate money to a worthy cause, but they’re really fake charities.” Unusual payment methods, including EFT, in place of secure payment platforms are warning signs to be aware of. She counsels “always ensuring that charities are registered prior to donating and that you communicate with the legitimate NGO or charity prior to transferring any funds.”
6. Tech support frauds
These con artists try to trick you into believing that there is a problem with your computer and offer to remedy it by posing as IT specialists. They then seize control of your computer and steal your personal information or hack into your bank account. “These scams prey on people’s fears,” says Collard. “They throw people into a state of panic in which they’re not thinking logically.” She recommends hanging up right away and directly contacting your IT support centre.
7. Puppy scams
Are you looking to purchase a puppy that is purebred? Take caution! International criminal organizations allegedly provide pups at a discount to South African operations. Collard claims that a large number of people have had severe financial losses as a result of the transportation costs in addition to the nonexistent dog. She cautions prospective purchasers against buying a puppy right away or from websites that feature an extensive assortment of canines for sale. “Breeders function differently than Takealot. It takes time for a puppy to become available, so there are typically waiting lists, she says. “It’s very likely that you’re being scammed if you’re offered a 30% discount on a second dog.”
It is generally advised to slow down and take a deep breath before responding to any of the frauds mentioned above, especially if the message is emotionally charged.
A zero-trust mindset pushes us to stop, consider, and assess the content we are interacting with as the lines between our real and virtual worlds become increasingly blurred. This helps us make more deliberate and sensible judgments.