21 Online Scams to Protect Against

With recent questions over the security of online personal data, many people are becoming wary of how their online presence can endanger their finances, and even their mental and emotional health.

Across all areas of digital technology, crime is evolving. Rapidly-changing technology forces scammers to change their tactics regularly. But can the public keep up? Internet security provider DigiCert have highlighted some of the most surprising tactics scammers can use – which hopefully now puts consumers one step ahead of the game.

Digital crime by numbers:

The graphic breaks down how much people have lost over the years, in some of the most notable scams on the market:

  • £174,000 – This is how much one woman lost to an online match via a dating website. Police estimate that the total number of women defrauded in the UK is high.
  • $63.6 million – The total amount lost to-date by fraudulent listings on ad sites. One of the worst forms this scam takes is by listing houses for sale which are already occupied.
  • £12.99 – The price of the fake Pokemon Go! Update, reputed to have been installed by tens of thousands. Such schemes highlight the need to include children and young people in conversations surrounding digital security and personal finances.

Where to be careful

Many of these scams target people in their leisure time, when they’re more likely to be caught off-guard.

Some of the turning points highlighted in the research include:

  • Fraudulent Money Transfers – One of the earliest crimes to emerge was that of fraudulent money transfers via mobile phone in the 1980s. Since then, scams have become more sophisticated.
  • Social Money Flipping – Recent social media criticisms have been based around personal data, but this Ponzi-style scam from earlier in the decade took up to $100-500 per victim
  • Swipe right for Scam – Even the relatively modern invention of the dating app has been subject to cyber-attacks, with phishing ‘verification’ requests robbing people by tricking them into paying a subscription to another site.
  • Technician Spoofing – Online trickery has been targeting people less internet-savvy people by posing as Microsoft or Apple employees, and then installing viruses on their computers. Not only do these people risk losing private data and compromise their bank details, they also endure the financial and emotional stress of replacing equipment, paying for repairs, and rebuilding digital confidence.

The Future of Money

Cryptocurrency is touted as a secure form of currency which is protected from theft by the Blockchain technology that supports and distributes it. However, in truth, Cryptocurrency is set to be the new frontier of crime. One of the first major heists took place in 2009.

With the value of Bitcoin soaring and a chronic lack of regulation, the next attack is likely just around the corner, and will have a much greater impact on people’s financial situation across the globe.

You can find the timeline here to trace all game-changing scams, from the credit card scam from the 1980s, to the Russian Password scam from only a few years ago.


This infographic breaks down each individual scam, indicating the year the technology was developed, the date of the cornerstone scams, as well as detailing the financial gain and method of each scam. Analysing the tactics of previous crimes is a sure-fire way to remain alert and discerning in a world where constant vigilance is required online.

Indeed, the recent controversies surrounding the likes of Facebook have shown us that the landscape of personal data exploitation is rapidly changing, which our research intrinsically reflects.

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