Internet scams to avoid through Critical Thinking

Why are there a lot of internet scams nowadays? These are damaging trust in businesses and causing sobbing in our societies. The topic is worth covering, isn’t it? After brainstorming and consulting experts, I came out with an exercise everyone should start practicing: critical thinking. If and only if everyone starts exercising their critical thing through the stages established below, we can avoid internet scams in some way.

A history of Scamming

a) A brief developmental history

The question is “when did scamming begin?” Were early scammers equipped with edge-cutting tech skills decades ago?

For sure something must have a start: the literature available shows that scamming is remote to 1980s. Below are spearheading dates in cyber-criminality:

1982: Early form of scamming by the founder of RSN in Atari, California;

1989: CompuServe earlier form of romance scammers;

1991: Emergence of the term “Romance Scam” and a draft format of the real romance scam we see today;

1992: CompuServe was expanded and gained much ground in UK and Nigeria;

1993: CompuServe hosted around 1.5 million subscribers which made it possible for scammers’ operations.

b) Definition

Internet scams, as the FBI website mentions, are any sort of “internet fraud”. The latter refers to the use of any means, be it internet services available or software with Internet access, with an aim to swindle/defraud victims or take advantage of them using those fraudulent means. This definition is very informative in terms of the means used to defraud or dupe victims, it shows who the dupers are, and where this filthy operation takes place. The duper is a person animated with fraudulent spirit with internet connections/software, the victim is the good person online who is ensnared into the swindler’s net, and the theft can take place in any online platform.

Internet crimes forms and estimated losses in USA, 2017

According to an FBI’s review, the cybercriminals are known to be using different forms of schemes and they MANAGE to steal big bucks (in terms of millions of US dollars) each year. The internet schemes or high-profile methods usually used by cybercriminals include:

  • Business E-Mail Compromise (BEC);
  • Data Breach;
  • Denial of Service;
  • E-Mail Account Compromise (EAC);
  • Malware/Scareware;
  • Phishing/Spoofing;
  • Ransomware.

Year 2017 saw a real new breed of technologically-savvy criminal activities where 4 million victims reported their bad encounter to IC3, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Sad for a big nation like USA. The center made a census and discovered that the trending scams were: Business Email Compromise (BEC), Ransomware, Tech Support Fraud, and Extortion. That year, in 301,580 cases of internet defrauding, losses are estimated to have hit $1.4 Billion, (IC3, 2017).

Scamming: Failure or loosening of character education?

The scammers are people who lost moral and societal values. They are outsiders or deviants from the normative values that have shaped our respective societies. Most people get painted with the scammer’s duding skinny clothes as they start to be money hungry and develop a get-quickly-rich lust. Others are passionate in software development and “betting who would do what at which scale” is probably another reason.

Whatever the reason may be, scammers continue to develop a sort of counter-society pattern of behaviour and are hardening their stronghold. They are destroying our society through a two-fold harm:

(1) By not being normative tissue sewers, they are destroying it: can you imagine an infant being born and feared because one or both of its parents are scammers? How much time our societies are going to take to rehabilitate it, have they got a chance to? If no chance to rehabilitate such a person, how fierce, and villain will s/he be? They will build cutting-edge savvy in the world of scammers!

(2) Scammers are destroying the young generations as they defraud young school children and their parents. Clawson (2017) reports on “major US government action against student debt relief scams”. I dare think that students who undergo a scamming act might be affected in some way and this is likely to develop hatred, revenge, bullying, and the like in them.

Critical thinking: An anti-scam anecdotal skill

To avoid being easily scammed, we should be familiar and daily exercise ourselves and children on the six (6) Critical Thinking Skills:

(1) Interpretation of a scam (stimulus): through exercising ourselves in categorizing, decoding significance and clarifying meaning whenever a scummy stimulus is perceived;

(2) Analysis of the situation: by examining ideas wrapping the scam potential threat, trying to argue against and pro it, and analyzing arguments loaded in the scam potential (ask yourself some questions: does it work this why? Why my affiliate wants me to fill this online form? etc)

(3) Evaluation through assessing claims and arguments: judge the likelihood of their being true or false.

(4) Inference: Querying evidence and drawing conclusions: Is there any indicator this email is sent by….?Is there another way to get this done physically (by going to the service provider to ask…? ). In these circumstances, avoiding shortcuts might help;

(5) Explanation: Take firm decisions like for example “even if it requires some fees to go/call the service provider, I will have to go/call there…. I’m scared this might be a scam!??? Even if it were your service provider sending an email you suspected, going to/calling its headquarters and explaining your doubts might resuscitate their adjustment too;

(6) Self-regulation: Develop your motto “If I doubt about any activities online, I just leave the platform for a while to think.”

There is an impressive resource that the university of Cambridge released. It’s a bit thorough on internet scams. You may have a look in Internet Crimes, Torts and Scams: Investigation and Remedies . This may just be a complement on your critical thinking exercise.

There is a strong indicator that scamming is lucrative and people can get rich in no time. In addition, such acts are indicators of values loss and immorality. Scammers are outsiders and deviants of coercive norms that have shaped our societies. The world of internet scam tends to be having higher density and overpopulated. It`s up to everyone to watch for their safety online through exercising critical thinking. Remember! Doubt is not a defect rather it indicates a thinking mind. If high profile and leading intelligence like FBI know about internet fraud, it’s high time our nations supported anti-scam tech developers in their painstaking research and development in anti-scamming program. The G 20 should fund schemes aiming to curb internet scams for the safety of the citizens.

“Must have books” on this topics:

    1. Critical Thinking for Helping Professionals: A Skills-Based Workbook
    2. Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills
    3. Critical Thinking 5th edition by Advanced Reasoning Forum

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