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The email scams you know are changing. They aren’t littered with bad grammar mistakes or sent from dodgy domains, and are definitely not masked with awkward familiarity. In fact, scammers nowadays are so good at hiding in plain sight that you probably wouldn’t be able to tell if they were scams or not.

Like this email below:

Is this a real email or not?

According to an Intel Security report, scammers are now taking to social engineering techniques, where they manipulate users to get hold of their personal data or infiltrate their devices via malware. Think of real life scams, but carried out via email interactions.

In fact, Intel Security’s McAfee Labs have revealed that two-thirds of the world’s emails now come from scammers trying to extort information and money — all sent by the Jover Chews of the Internet.

Instead of one-off emails, scammers will also put in more time, crafting relationships with targets and keeping the play going for as long as they can to extract as much information as possible. Some may even do their research and find out more about you, including the names of your friends, your background, and much more! Psychologist Robert Cialdini cites six influencing levers used to leverage the target’s subconscious.


Image Credit: Festivals Advice
Image Credit: Festivals Advice

“Here are some gift vouchers for you to use! Now, download this ‘app’ into your phone.”


Image Credit: New Republic
Image Credit: New Republic

“There’s only one day left to this 80% sale on Zalora! Hurry there before stock runs out!”


Image Credit: BlondeInk.Net
Image Credit: BlondeInk.Net

“Oh man, but I promised him that I’d download his new app. He’ll think poorly of me if I went back on my word now.”


Image Credit: OneBigPhoto
Image Credit: OneBigPhoto

“I like this guy — he’s really nice! He seems trustworthy enough to share my personal details with.”


Image Credit: darkstrings.net
Image Credit: darkstrings.net

“We’re the IRAS. We’ve found that you have yet to file your taxes for the year. Please do so immediately at this link or face the consequences.”

Social validation


“All my friends are taking part in this scheme, that means it’s definitely safe!”

So what can we do to avoid this? Well, Intel Security recommends these steps:

  • Consider before clicking: evaluate before responding to an email. Are we expecting a parcel delivery? Why would our bank send us an urgent notification asking us to update our account? 
  • Check and verify: Call the relevant people — whether it’s your bank or a friend — to verify that the email or message on social media is legitimate.
  • Security software: Make sure we have some form of security software which we can use across all devices to help scan and monitor for suspicious links and malicious files.

With scams looking more legitimate and even taking a more human form, we may all be in danger of being tricked by someone who could easily Google us to appear more legitimate. As a frequent ASOS shopper, I could honestly say that I would fall for an email saying that my transaction failed and I need to re-enter my credit card details. And that, frankly, scares me.

The other side is getting smarter (finally), and we should be prepared.

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