In the early days of scamming, it was usually the senior citizens who had to worry.
“They were easy targets, they had more money than young people, and they would go after them saying they won the Jamaican lottery, you know you need to pay your taxes on this so we can send you your money,” says Detective Josh Rhodes with the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office.
But now, the buzz is technology has made it all too easy for con artists to turn their eyes to the younger generation.
“I believe that they’re just so broad with being so trusting on social media, I don’t think a lot of them really understand how big it is and how big a problem it can be,” says Rhodes.
Take Facebook—probably the tool most used by scammers. It is incredibly easy to duplicate a page, stealing those profile pictures that are free to anyone, and making it look like you even have the same friends. This is how scammers gain your trust to get either your money or personal information.
“They have 3,000 friends, they may not even know 500 of those people. And that’s a very dangerous situation because so many of those people could be hackers, or possible sex traffickers, the possibilities are endless really.”
Email is still a good standby—but instead of a Nigerian Prince giving you money, they’ve gotten more hip to the times, saying your Netflix password has expired. They conveniently give you a link to make changes, but you could end up downloading malware, or other software that tracks your keystrokes.
“It’s pretty much unlimited, that’s why anytime you get an email from a company like that, never click on a link!”
Something they’ve seen recently here in town is hacked paypal accounts being used to buy things at stores like Dollar General. Just because a service says they’re secure, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take caution.
“I mean your bank account is secure, but at the same time, people can access that stuff. There are hackers out there that can do it.”
They stress the importance of always knowing who you’re talking to online, and never trusting an email that comes to you even if it has official looking logos on it. If they want you to click on a link or give them information over email—stop, think, and then call the real number of the agency to verify.