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Cybercriminals can fool even the smartest

Giveaway signs: many scam e-mails are easy to spot, if you know what to look for

Ace Hardware has sent you an e-mail.

Take our poll by linking to this photo below and you will be awarded a full set of Stanley tools – retail value $205.

Well, what a great idea – you occasionally have bought things from Ace Hardware, let’s get this for the man of the house for Father’s Day.

Stop, think – don’t click!

Before you succumb to the lure of something for nothing, take a very close look at this e-mail.

First warning signal – check the URL

The Uniform Resource Locator, domain name does not begin to resemble Ace Hardware whose official website is www.acehardware.com.

This domain ends in. lol … well, somebody may be laughing out loud if you respond to this offer, but it will not be you!

Second warning signal – check the sender name

SMILE@chvkbyi.estipul.lol? What is this? Probably not an Ace Hardware employee.

This seems like some scammer idea of a huge joke – on you.

Third warning signal – research the business name for verification

Don’t touch that e-mail. Don’t open it.

Search the official website of Ace Hardware. Guess what? No prize listed!

But there are many, many other internet security sites and YouTube videos warning of this scam!

Readers, this was just one of multiple scammer e-mails I receive almost every day.

Bank balance phoney charge scam

An anonymous Royal Gazette reader describes a scammer phone call attempt to hack their bank accounts!

“We received a call out of the blue from a foreign sounding caller identifying himself as from our local bank (not named here) dispute resolution department. In review of our account, he was questioning two amounts of $500 and $1500 and had we made these withdrawals?

“We immediately felt so thankful that our bank had caught this suspicious activity quickly!

“Speaking urgently, he asked for our credit card number – in order to resolve this issue quickly. We gave him the number – without thinking.

“He then directed us to ‘right away’ contact our bank’s fraud department by downloading a file he gave us with an unrecognisable name and then opening it for instructions.

“The file’s name did not relate to our bank. Then, we suddenly realised as instincts became suspicious – this was a scam!

“We told him we would contact our bank ourselves, independently. He hung up.

“We called our legitimate bank phone number. Fortunately, our accounts had not been touched. We then blocked our credit cards and had new ones issued.

“We were so lucky to escape a terrible loss.”

A test, readers? What were the sure signs of fraud in this narrative?

Here are four signs that it’s a scam, as indicated by the US Federal Trade Commission.

One, scammers pretend to be from an organisation you know.

They might say a government department, credit card company, your bank, investment firm, etc. or make up a name that sounds official. Or it could be a utility, a tech firm, or even a charity asking for donations.

They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID, but that name and number might not be real.

Two, scammers say there is a problem or a prize.

They might say you’re in trouble with the Government, or you owe money, or someone in your family had an emergency. Or that there is a virus on your computer.

Or there’s a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information.

Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes, but have to pay a fee to get it.

Three, scammers pressure you to act immediately.

Scammers want you to act before you have time to think.

If you’re on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story.

They might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business licence, or deport you.

They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.

Four, scammers tell you to pay in specific ways.

They often insist that you pay by:

• Using cryptocurrency,

• Wiring money through a money transfer service

• Putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back.

Some will send you a cheque (that will later turn out to be fake), then tell you to deposit it and send them money.

Fraud prevention tips

• Attachments: never, never open them, period!

• Verify a company phone by checking their legitimate address online, or check a legitimate paper invoice, and then call the company

• Do your own research independently and go to the legitimate company website

• Do not use any phone number from a stranger or via the e-mail just sent to you!


• Do not store any passwords online

• Keep a password book separately – still nothing wrong with paper file back-up

• Do not check the keep-me-logged-in choice, take the time to enter your password each time you log on

• Change your passwords frequently – anything suspicious, change your password immediately!

• Moving money – use direct bank-to-bank transfers, rather than a pay service, when possible

• Keep your computer, phone, apps software up to date

• Back up your computer frequently to a secure cloud storage service and back up valuable files to a stand-alone, detachable disk

• Turn off your computer when not in use

• Keep a piece of paper over your web camera – scammer malware can activate webcams remotely, record the video feeds, log keystrokes and presto, they hacked your computer

• Bank, investment and credit card statements: check your activity every day!

• Voice cloning: if you are making payments to a family member, that voice may be cloned

• Arrange a family password known only to you and that person

• Always transfer from your bank to family member’s bank

• Never arrange payment through a transfer payment service or some other account from a phoney phone call.


US FBI, How we can help you

FDIC Customer Assistance Topics – Cybersecurity and Identity Theft

Martha Harris Myron is a native Bermuda islander with US connections, author, finance columnist, YouTube creator and a retired international financial planner. Contact: martha.myron@gmail.com

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Published May 20, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated May 19, 2023 at 5:03 pm)

Cybercriminals can fool even the smartest

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