People always say there are only two certainties in life: Death and taxes. I’d like to propose a third item on the list: Scams. I get so many cons over text and email that I wanted to share them with you in a “most creative scams of 2022” roundup.
You can use this list to recognize fraud in the wild better. I’ll break down all you need to know, from glaring red flags to subtle signs you’re being scammed. Even if you think you already know what to look for, it’s always good to keep up to date with the latest scam trends.
Otherwise, you could fall for complex new online scams that can fool experienced techies. Tap or click here to spot a new phishing scam that targets Bank of America, Citi and Wells Fargo customers. If you get any of these messages, watch out. You’re dealing with one of the biggest fraud trends to look out for in 2022.
1. Let’s start with a scarily sophisticated scam
Although I recognized this fraud immediately, less cyber-savvy people might take it at face value. This disturbing trick manipulates your browser and most people’s lack of knowledge on the technical side of the internet.
If you have friends who are too trusting (if not downright gullible), share this with them. If you don’t, they might fall for a scammer’s tricks. Tell them to watch out for messages like this:
Some of the scams I’ll share in this tip are pretty obvious, but this one is deceptively tricky. Clicking the link in this message will send you to the actual USPS site.
But get this: If you have your login credentials saved to your browser, hackers just stole your username and password. Many people don’t realize scam texts can work like this. Just clicking the link lets scammers save credentials stored in your browser.
🚨 Be careful where you click
This scam is especially scary because it uses a grain of truth. Maybe it’s right and you haven’t set up your forwarding service. You’re more likely to fall for it and click the embedded link.
⚠️ Never click a random link sent to you through email or text! It doesn’t matter if it looks like it came from a reliable source. Go to the official site directly.
✅ Here’s a tech safety tip to keep in mind. Whenever you get a message with a link, look up the URL on Whois Domain Lookup. This free tool reveals a website’s owner.
✅ When I got this text, I looked up the URL on Whois.com. Just like that, I found out that the URL belongs to Alibaba, which was probably trying to collect my information for ad tracking!
Many creative scams will impersonate reliable organizations like USPS or other “trusted sources.” Although this scam popped up in my text messages, many more come at you through your inbox. Take this next trick, for example.
2. Some of the most creative scams look believable, like this one
Learning how to identify and avoid package delivery scams can be challenging. Emails like this don’t have obvious scam signs, like typos or unprofessional branding. Check it out:
Overall, if you aren’t expecting a package, don’t trust emails like this. It gets more difficult if you are expecting something, though. Just remember my advice from the previous tip.
Never click on random links, even if they look like they’re from a reliable source. Go directly to your shipper’s website, log in and check it manually. Although you’re taking a few more steps, the extra effort is worth your cybersecurity.
RELATED: Warning! These shipping emails from FedEx and UPS are fakes
3. I have no business in Bulgaria. So what’s up with this email?
Not sure how to tell if you’re talking to a scammer? Look for signs that they aren’t from the U.S. Many foreign scammers think all Americans are fabulously wealthy, so they target us without mercy. When this email said it was from Bulgaria, I was immediately suspicious.
Subscription scams are a trending fraud type.
Here’s why many of the most creative scams use this tactic
Cybercriminals want to make you freak out and think, “I didn’t pay for this service, so why am I being charged?”
Don’t reach out to any unverified customer service numbers. A scammer will be on the other end of the line. Whatever you do, don’t give away your bank details or credit card number!
4. Tricky tactic alert! Don’t let the lure of money reel you in
Most people would delete a message like this. Its bright colors and different fonts are signs of a scam. This con is different from most “You won!” scams. The green banner at the top is downright duplicitous.
It says, “This message was sent from a trusted sender,” designed to keep your guard down. Don’t trust messages like this! Scammers often create fake flags, manners and other markups to trick you into thinking their statements are trustworthy.
The promise of money is also meant to inspire you to click the “Confirm Balance” button.
It might not be one of the most creative scams you’ve seen, but it’s simple and effective.
5. Nigerian Prince cons used to be some of the most creative scams. Now, they aren’t worth a bow
From the very top, this message is an obvious scam. Look at the address block and see how many red flags you can spot:
Here are a few more warning signs I recognized right away:
- Firstly, the email says it’s directed to “undisclosed recipients.”
- Scammers love to send mass emails — and they do this by hiding their tracks.
- So if you ever get an email and the To: section doesn’t have your address, take that as a sign.
It gets worse the further you read.
Notice the bizarre punctuation errors throughout the message. Always take typos as red flags. After all, a legitimate company wouldn’t make such amateur typing mistakes.
By the end of the message, it becomes clear that the scammer got lazy. Notice how they don’t bother to capitalize their fake name!
This is a typical inheritance scam that wants to steal your private information. You might even get a letter in the mail saying you’re the heir to a million-dollar fortune.
6. Oh, boy! Another super convincing inheritance scam!
This trick is similar to the one before: it says it’s to an undisclosed recipient and has bizarre punctuation. Also, it doesn’t make sense. Why would some random lady from Switzerland ask me to handle her $5 million fortune?
I highly doubt a stranger would leave me a $5 million fortune. Even if this so-called “Mrs. Joy Oswald” is a huge Kim Komando fan, I’m not falling for it. Sorry, fictional widow. But I’m not clicking your link.
7. I’ve got to spill the tea on this free kettle scam
Scammers often excite you with the promise of money. Sometimes, they offer you fortunes, like the two scams above. But they might also try to hype you up with the promise of freebies.
Check out the diacritic marks underneath the letters in the subject line. As I mentioned in the section about the Bulgarian scam, look for signs that the email is coming from a foreign sender.
English doesn’t have diacritic marks, but many other languages do, like Arabic, Sanskrit and Vietnamese. Thus, this email probably comes from overseas scammers. If you want to expand your speaking skills, use the language app that turns learning into a fun and easy game.
8. Now that’s just nasty
Scammers have no shame. They’ll pretend to be lonely, sexually frustrated women who need male companionship.
I don’t know who this scammer got me confused with, but they seem to think I have what this fictional woman named Scott wants. Also, I’ve never heard of a woman named Scott. If you’re one, feel free to send me a line on Facebook or Twitter.
9. Well, apparently, I’m dead
That’s right. I’m currently a ghost typing this. How am I typing this from beyond the grave, you ask? Heaven has good Wi-Fi, it seems.
You know the drill by now. This is a total scam. This trick plays upon fear and the desire for money, which is standard stuff for fraudsters.
Now that you’ve brushed up on the most creative scams, check out these tips next
7 new scams to watch out for
3 phone scams spreading now you should know about
Cybersecurity tip: 3 immediate steps to take if you fell for a scam