We are relying on the internet more and more these days, for the likes of shopping, booking appointments, keeping up to date with the countless social media apps – the list is endless.

But with that comes the dangers of online scams and although scammers have always been around, they’re becoming more creative, as the newest trends inspire them to find new ways to scam the public.

Since the majority of people are aware of traditional scams and are highly unlikely to fall for them, scammers have updated their methods and are now relying heavily on the internet as an easier way to steal your money without getting caught.

To help you stay safe, anti-money laundering and finance experts at KyrosAML have offered advice by providing information on some of the top scams you should watch out for in 2023, as well as how to avoid them.

Some of the top scams to be aware of and how to avoid them

Cryptocurrency-romance scam

Although a rather unexpected combination, cryptocurrencies combined with romance have successfully made scammers a lot of money.

Con artists will often pose as potential internet love interests and trick their targets into downloading an app and investing in fake cryptocurrencies.

They go as far as to claim they have invested in the cryptocurrency themselves. Since the app keeps showing growth in your wealth, you’re highly likely to believe it. In the meantime, the scammers are actually taking your money.

How to stay safe: Don’t rush into investment. Make sure to carefully inspect any investment opportunity that comes your way, especially if it seems too good to be true.

Keep your guard up because the scammers will patiently wait for you to start trusting them, and they’ll strike when you least expect it.

Payday Loan Scams

If a random person on the internet offers to help settle all your bills, politely decline and move on.

No matter how convincing and trustworthy they may seem, if something seems too good to be true, that’s probably because it is.

Scammers are exploiting the workers hit by inflation and offering them payday loans to help settle their bills, but are asking for fees in advance. The money you give them to cover the fees goes straight into the criminal’s pocket and you get nothing. 

How to stay safe: Be careful around anyone who asks you to pay a loan fee via an untraceable payment method such as a gift card.  

One-time password (OTP) bot scam

Scammers will go as far as to disguise themselves as bots (automated programmes) in order to deceive people into sharing the two-factor authentication codes.

These codes are normally sent via text or email from financial institutions, but scammers actually use bots who appear to be texting/emailing you from the bank.

They will then ask you to authorize a charge and enter the authentication code you’ve received from the bank in case the transaction isn’t yours. That way, a bot tries to log into your bank account by stealing the code the bank sent you.

How to stay safe: Under no circumstances should you send the authentication code to anyone, especially if you get a call or a text message from a number you don’t recognise.

Puppy purchase scam

Dog lovers also get exploited by con artists who use their love for dogs to trick them into sending money in advance for the dog’s travel insurance and other similar expenses.

The dog, however, doesn’t even exist, so the scammer just takes the money sent by the potential buyer and they disappear. 

How to stay safe: The safest bet is to go to the animal shelter and take a look at the dogs available there.

If you decide to look online, make sure to do a reverse image search to make sure the dog’s photo isn’t stolen. Do not make any payments until you see the dog in person. 

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: When buying a dog online, do not make any payments until you see the dog in personWhen buying a dog online, do not make any payments until you see the dog in person (Image: Canva)

Free-gift QR code scam

QR codes are used on a daily basis nowadays as they’re very convenient, especially when you want to take a look at restaurant menus or make fast payments.

Con artists are aware of this and are putting fake codes over the real ones to scam you by redirecting you to a malicious website. 

They may also call you and say they’re going to send you a free-gift QR code, but once you scan it, you end up on an unsafe website. 

How to stay safe: Contact the person or a company that sent you the QR code if you ever receive one unexpectedly and use a phone number you know is authentic.