Day 5 of avoiding Christmas scams – Fake investment opportunities

“Psst. I have a red hot stock tip for you”. Would you listen if someone you just met in a pub (remember them?) sided up to you and whispered that in your ear? Most of us wouldn’t but some may listen and be taken in by the stranger who is obviously looking for a fast buck. You only have to stop and think for a moment and ask yourself why would a stranger share such information with you. After all, the less people who know about any tips, whether it is a stock, a horse or the multitude of random events you can now bet on, the better the potential returns are.

Investment scams have been part of our lives for centuries. The South Sea Company scam from the 18th century saw hundreds of people lose their savings whilst more recently, the Madoff Ponzi scheme hit the rich and poor and is reported to be the biggest individual scam of all time.

Most of the scams that have resulted in significant losses for individuals and organisations have a high level of sophistication and preparation. The scam has to be convincing to get a return on investment for them, often funding a lavish lifestyle such as Madoff’s.

But that doesn’t mean that less sophisticated scams don’t work. On the contrary, if they never worked then the scammers would have packed up and gone onto another fraud.

The email on the left is one such example. It is a terrible example mind, which is poorly written (and even with the original holding text in Latin still there) but someone, somewhere may just click on “Fill Out Form” or email Keith Franklin back.

The scammers only need one person to click on the link or submit their personal details to get a return on their investment in the email phishing attack.

If you are ever approached by anyone in a pub (when we can go back to them!) then take their advice with a word of caution. If you receive an email like the one above, put it in your spam/junk folder.

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