Spam, Phishing and Scam Emails – what to consider!

By Josanri van Niekerk 010 592 2321 ad***@sc****************.za
Many of us have been made aware of scam, phising and spam e-mails. We know what they are and how dangerous it can be, however many people still fall into these traps unknowingly.
What is a Scam and how does it happen?
Scams are e-mails designed to commit fraud, steal your personal information and in many cases steal money. There are many forms of scam e-mails, however the two most commonly used ones are SPAM and Phising e-mails.
Not all SPAM e-mails have malicious intents, but it is illegal in many countries. SPAM is defined as repetitive, unwelcomed bulk e-mails which were not requested by the recipient. These e-mails are generally used as advertisements, but they can also be used for chain e-mails.
SPAM emails comes from two sources, SPAM which comes from spammers themselves who are attempting to sell products, commit fraud etc. and SPAM which comes from computers infected with a virus that are sending out bulk emails. This is the type of SPAM which tends to be malicious as these e-mails can also infect your computer.
PHISING is a scam designed to trick you into entering personal information such as usernames or passwords. Phishing emails usually try to scare or tempt you into submitting your personal details; this is usually done by claiming fraud has been detected on your account, you won a prize etc.
How to tell if an e-mail is real or fake.
Here are some typical indicators that an e-mail may be a fake.
  • There is an attachment but the sender does not acknowledge the attachment in his/her e-mail. The details of the e-mail will also be vague to generalize the e-mail.
  • Scam e-mails will inforce a short time limit to respond to the e-mail, this forces the reader to act immediately. Many scam e-mails will also use excessive flattery to manipulate you.
  • Watch for spelling and/or grammatical errors. Fake e-mails will often contain them.
  • Always check the sender’s email address if it looks suspicious or too general it’s probably not a legitimate e-mail address.
  • Always hover your cursor over links given in the e-mail to determine if the link URL is legitimate, this can also be done on a mobile simply press and hold the link until the URL appears.
  • It is always a good idea to look up the sender’s organization or internal department; this will allow you to verify it. This is also recommended for physical address details from a sender you don’t recognize.
  • When trying to verify an e-mail, be careful with calling the phone number given to you in the e-mail. Scammers will often put down their own phone numbers and then pretend to be the service or department that the scam is copying, it is much safer to google search the service or department and use that number.
  • Please remember to configure your e-mail to block automatic image downloads. Scammers will often embed viruses or codes to run in the image background.
  • If you would like to report a suspicious, please DO NOT forward the actual e-mail to anyone. It is safer to either send a description or a screenshot of what you received.
Hot to tell if the sender is a scammer?
The easiest, and the most effective, way to protect yourself is to verify the sender. This is done by firstly hovering your cursor over the “From:” display name to see what email address comes up. It’s very common for an attacker to create a display name to look like it is coming from someone legitimate, but when you hover over the display name you’ll often find that the e-mail is coming from someone else.
As mentioned above when we hover a display name and e-mail address will appear. Let’s look at the e-mail address and take a closer look. Often a scammer will use trickery to make you think you are reading an email address correctly but they’ve switched out, added or replaced characters this is commonly known as substitution and transposition. This means they will replace an “m” with an “rn”, a lower case “L” can be switched out with the number “1” etc. Those slight changes in an e-mail address means that the e-mail came from somewhere/someone else.
Another great way to find out if a sender is legitimate is to do a search on the e-mail domain name. Every legitimate company has to own a domain name and will often use their domain name in their e-mails.
To verify the domain name ownership and set-up details you can use sites like WHOis and ICANN to find out details about when a domain name was set up and often, who the owner of the site is.
Being scammed out of your money and time is never fun and it happens every day unfortunately hopefully these tips help and always trust your gut. If something seems wrong with an e-mail it probably is.

Disclaimer: this extract does not constitute and should not be construed as the giving of legal advice and it is recommended that you speak to one of our attorneys to obtain proper legal advice: 010 592 2321