A YEI member recently sent us the following Whatsapp message,
supposedly from a popular Food Store in South Africa.
YEI’s Tech Tim immediately identified it as a Scam and a Phishing post.
Tech Tim explains how to identify these Scam messages
and what to do about them.
Social media which includes Whatsapp is full of examples like this and while there are many genuine competitions out there, social media is equally full of scams. Many spam messages such as these continue to do the rounds many years after their initial posting and this particular one has been seen by the YEI team multiple times over the last year.
Spam vs scam – what’s the difference?
Spam – a collection of unsolicited bulk electronic messages
Scam – a fraudulent deal
What to do when you receive a message like this?
- DON’T click on the link
- DON’T share to your contacts
- DO your homework first
How to do your homework?
- The first “red flag” was the start of the URL which was http, while that in itself is not an indication of a spam, https is much more secure compared to http. The second area of concern was that the URL was not from the Food market itself. In this case it was http://forestrydowngrade.top/. While many third parties are contracted by big business to run competitions and giveaways, we need to be careful.
- Do a google search such as “Food market 30th anniversary” When Tech Tim did this particular search, it came up with a link to IOL, a reputable news website which indicated that this was indeed a scam.
- Do a google search via a reputable anti-virus website, in this case we used https://safeweb.norton.com/ The report indicated that this is a known dangerous website.
What are the consequences if you have clicked on the link and “entered” the competition?
- You are likely to begin receiving huge amounts of Spam on the e-mail address and cell phone number you used to enter. You may also find that you begin to start receiving other Spam and other Phishing mails. Remember that companies like this do not subscribe to the POPPI act and may not “protect” your information. They may even sell your data on to other companies.
- The link may have a virus attached to it which can then infect your device and the devices of all your contacts and of people you forwarded the message to.
- This can have consequences for you and may subject you to Ransomwear and Malware . Please have a look at Tech Tim’s article on Anti-virus protection and software.
Remember the following:
- Too Good To Be True
Lucrative offers and eye-catching or attention-grabbing statements are designed to attract people’s attention immediately. For instance, many claim that you have won an iPhone, a lottery, or some other lavish prize. Do NOT click on any suspicious emails. Remember that if it seems to good to be true, it probably is!
- Sense of Urgency
A favorite tactic amongst cybercriminals is to ask you to act fast because the super deals are only for a limited time. Some of them will even tell you that you have only a few minutes to respond. When you come across these kinds of emails, it’s best to just ignore them, and delete them immediately. Sometimes, they will tell you that your account will be suspended unless you update your personal details immediately. Most reliable organizations give ample time before they terminate an account and they never ask patrons to update personal details over the Internet. When in doubt, visit the source directly rather than clicking a link in an email.
A link may not be all it appears to be. Hovering over a link shows you the actual URL where you will be directed, upon clicking on it. It could be completely different or it could be a popular website with a mis-spelling, for instance www.bankofarnerica.com – the ‘m’ is actually an ‘r’ and an ‘n’, so look carefully.
If you see an attachment in an email you weren’t expecting or that doesn’t make sense, don’t open it! They often contain payloads like ransomware or other viruses. The only file type that is always safe to click on is a .txt file.
- Unusual Sender
Whether it looks like it’s from someone you don’t know or someone you do know, if anything seems out of the ordinary, unexpected, out of character or just suspicious in general don’t click on it!
We understand that technology may be challenge for some of our “Silver Surfers”. However, it is extremely important to remember that if we take a few extra precautions, we can protect ourselves from these types of cyber attacks, spams and scams.
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