The act of deception of another human being through the use of electronic mail is known as email fraud. The idea of deceiving people online became effective immediately after the introduction of email as a source of communication. As the curiosity of people increased, so did an obsession of hitting the jackpot of luck through the internet by winning a lottery or by winning a vacation, pretty much an idea of anything that could lure people into believing they have won something precious was brought to use.
In the today’s world email frauds have taken a very different and hazardous shape and more damages are being caused to people through it. People are getting blackmailed, fooled, bullied and ripped off through what is now a day called “scam.”
Sources of Email Frauds:
Every person who uses email knows that there are certain emails that they find strange, unidentified, unexplainable and annoying. Every email has experienced fraud emails whether or not they fell for it. These emails come from people whose primary motive is to get money. Sometimes there is a bigger chain of events before the money part, but ultimately it is always about the money.
In order to be a proficient criminal in email frauds, one has to have ample knowledge and skill of using the internet and hiding from internet regulatory authorities. Hence, it is assumable that the people who do email frauds are not amateurs, but professional computer and the internet specialists. Sometimes internet frauds are very highly educated and well brought up people who make it easier for others to fall for their made up credibility.Sometimes of course the purpose is more social and political in nature. People keep their personal files in their system, and if they reach the wrong hands, people get blackmailed into paying the criminals a lot of money so that they do not use the files wrongly. Such criminals feed on peoples’ fears and blackmail them to pay hundreds of thousands that they readily do to protect their self-respect and sometimes property, not to mention life (Norman, 2013).
Also, some profit organization and product oriented corporations also send scam emails and ask for the targets to purchase certain items that they exaggerate about in the email. People pay up to later find the company fleeing or delivering a poor quality product. But all in all, it is safe to say that there are groups at work in the background of such actions who conduct such practices for money (Tschabitscher, 2015).
Methods of Email Frauds:
The most common method of conducting email fraud is through giving the false impression that the email user has won a lottery of some sort. To make the email look legitimate, the frauds provide links to a website which also happen to be part of their fraud but look a lot reasonable. They try to engage people into believing that they have actually won something.
Once people fall for it, they ask them to follow simple procedure including verification of their address, their phone number perhaps and then to pay a little processing fee. When the people pay them to an online account, the emails stop coming in. It is a matter of surprise for many that how email criminals are able to address people by names and cities, the fact is that anyone can hack into a database filled with email users. Fraud emails are also hard to track as they keep themselves off the mainstream internet radar.
Another form of email fraud is through downloading of spyware into a user’s computer. Users open an email in which links and attachments are given, as soon as the user clicks them, software begins to download into the system of the user without them even knowing about it. this software are meant for several reasons, one of them is to steal personal useful information from the computer and then using it to blackmail the user, another way is to corrupt files in the user’s system to cause them trouble. As mentioned before, people who indulge in such criminal activities are experts in hacking into systems, networks and then hiding from internet authorities. Another way of conducting fraud through emails is by becoming a sales agent or distributor of a product or service. The criminals who do this claim that they will deliver certain product or service to the user’s house after the user pays them initial charges, they do not ask for much or full amount to make themselves look more authentic.
Sometimes, the frauds come in the form of Ponzi schemers who ask for memberships from people by paying them money and after they have, they ask them to call upon more people to join up in order to get money. Funny thing about these schemes is that most do pay the members who bring new members to the scheme, but the point is that these schemes keep rotating peoples’ money from here to there without any investment. Such schemes are illegal in most countries of the world.
Online dating sites and webcam chat services are amongst the riskiest places to be now a day. People make their profiles including their personal information with the websites.'
databases. Some websites where profanity is encouraged, people often end up giving their personal and embarrassing pictures in the hands they barely know. They later on get blackmailed that their pictures and videos could go viral if they do not pay a certain amount. In most cases, the fault is of the internet user to initiate and make possible for such a fraud to take place.
Protection from Email Fraud:
Legally speaking, there are very strict cyber crime laws that come with huge penalties and imprisonment. Not just individuals but also governments are at risk of getting worked up against. Security agencies around the world fight a war against cyber criminals and opponents who are always looking to crash each other’s systems.
The Federal Board of Investigation of the United States is dealing with the matters of cyber crimes and as part of the national security policy of the United States, they are playing a vital role in all sort of cyber crimes ranging from common thievery to terrorist activities. The board encourages the email users to report cases of email fraud when they witness them and asks of them to participate more in eradicating the evil (FBI, 2015).
It is worth noticing here that it is possible to detect if an email is unsafe for the user to open. This is so because most online criminals do not use legitimate email accounts and mainstream networks as through this they can get caught by the authorities by tracing the email accounts back to them. Hence, any email that comes from a different set of internet protocols or has a strange coding gets immediately detected by the email service provider. This is sufficient for the service to initiate a warning to the email user.
However, the major responsibility for protection against spam emails is in the hands of the internet user. Antivirus and antimalware software these days come with added features of preventing email scams and frauds from occurring. Users who do not pay much attention to this and do not consider it important to protect themselves from certain software must them save themselves.
On the brighter side, an average internet user is now educated enough to know that lottery winning emails and the like are fraud and that they will only get harm by following up with them. As a result of this education, they are now following caution against such emails.
According to (Lessard, 2013) there are 38% internet and email users who instantly delete emails when they know that they do not recognize it and that it is possible for it being a scam. Most people. However, almost 80% email users claim that when they get an email they are not sure about, they simply ignore it. They do not delete it because they fear it may be legitimate, and that will become evident if the mailer follows up with the recipient again.
Almost 40% of email users claim that they have used filters and use email service provider options to maximize the security of their email. More than 50% of email users mention that they avoid subscribing to services and that they do not hesitate in unsubscribing the mailers that they find inappropriate and illegitimate in any manner.
However, only 50% of email users report the scam to authorities, including those people who care to simply click a link that says “report as spam.” These statistics illustrate that people try to avoid the risk they know comes from fraud emails, but the trend towards people taking the pain in reporting the mail is not much.
It is a common human tendency that they get carried away with news that tells them they have gotten rich overnight. People become curious and do not hesitate in taking a bit of risk for a huge gain and pay the criminals charges that they ask for. It can be said that the human tendency of greed causes people to fall prey to such frauds (Dube, 2014).
The human tendency to fear a bigger loss causes him or her to pay a small price to averse it. When people get blackmailed then it is either their wealth or their respect at stake since they do not wish to lose both, they readily pay the amount demanded from them by the blackmailers.
Sometimes people who fall prey to email frauds do not report the event because doing that brings them trouble. Like, for example, if a person who himself is doing illegal activity reports a fraud against himself then he also acknowledges the authorities about his illegalities. Therefore, such people find it convenient to pay the ransom rather than to report the case.
Another human factor that contributes towards people paying the criminals is the element of panic. When a person finds his information in someone else’s hand, he tries to get out of the situation quickly and while doing so he does not think over the matter and pays the criminal to leave him alone. Unfortunately, if a prey offers a too easy chance to the criminal than the later gets to up the wager and charge the prey even more.
Most people do not report spam email cases because they simply want to save their time that will be otherwise lost following up with the matter. Even if they are convinced that a certain sender is a fraud, they still do not report him and rather ignore him. They know that they will have to provide evidence to the authority and for that they would need time to collect it. Then there is an unexplained sense of mistrust on the authorities that people do not bother going to them to report cases.
Also, in today’s age corporations that get accused of something they did not do get the liberty to charge the accuser with a lot of fine to pay for defamation. Considering this, the common email users avoid reporting mailers. They think that if the mailer turns out legitimate after inquiry then they might have to face legal action. They also fear that the clear cut criminal might loophole the legal system taking the decision in his favor leaving the reporter high and dry. Email users who do report cases of frauds often start getting threats through phone calls and emails that they should take the case back or face consequences.
The internet is a rather safe place for criminals to perform their activities at. People are easily convinced by a mailer who flatter them and give them news about how they have gotten lucky, and this is the human tendency that the criminals rely on most. Another thing in this regard is the human element of fear that encourages criminals to demand ransom from people.
Firstly, email users should abide by the rules and ethics of using the internet and must also, adhere to the common sense practices of not sharing their personal data with any website. They must also keep their systems duly under check with protection software. Government authorities and regulatory bodies cannot single-handedly defeat cyber crime and email frauds, it is in the hands of email users to take caution and use wisdom while using the internet.
Internet users must accept and admit the fact that if they get fooled by a spammer and an online fraud, then it is their own fault primarily for either falling for it or not making enough security arrangements. There is no person on whom they can put the blame on but themselves and as the internet is a very safe place for criminals, there is barely a chance that the authorities can catch the culprit and recover the valuables.
Like general public relies on the police for their physical security, they cannot rely on the internet authorities to save their valuable information and money, keeping them from going into the hands of cyber criminals. There are very strict punishments for those who get caught doing cyber crimes, hence regardless of how temptation such crimes might seem, their fruits are not worth the punishments.
Younger people are mostly responsible for conducting email frauds and older users of internet services are the most victims of these frauds. Many a times, people who indulge in such activities do not even know that they are becoming tools of illegal money making by another criminal. When captured and arrested, computer hackers, fraud marketers, and bluff callers claim that they had joined up as employees and in many cases they stated that they did not know what activities their employer was indulged in. This is so because unemployed young people care about having a job and a decent salary, they do not care about inquiring adequately about their employer.
Norman. (March 26, 2013). Where does SPAM come from, and how do we stop it?. Retrieved July 24, 2015, from http://blogs.norman.com/2013/for-consumption/where-does-spam- come-from-and-how-do-we-stop-it
Tschabitscher, H. (2015). How Spammers Get Your Email Address. Retrieved July 24, 2015, from http://email.about.com/od/spamandgettingridofit/a/spam_finds_you.htm