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ROBERT SICILIANO is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds.

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Top 5 Scams to Watch Out For

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#1 Nigerian Scams: According to a Dutch study, victims of advanced-fee scams, which are also known as 419 scams or Nigerian scams, lost more than $9 billion in 2009, almost 50% more than the previous year. (This PDF contains the statistics from the study.)

While these types of scams are generally understood to be Nigerian in nature and origin, and are in fact named after the 419 Nigerian code that made them illegal, advanced-fee scams were launched from 69 other countries in 2009. Scammers are broadening their targets to include emerging Internet markets, rather than simply targeting English-speaking nations.

#2 Romance Scams: If you ever hear talk like this, run far and fast: “In me sweetheart you are going to find the most passionate, loving and romantic man you have ever met. There are very few promises in life but this is one of them! ROMANCE is the key to my happiness and to my heart and soul!”

#3 Classified Ad Scams: This story caught my eye: “An online scam targeting pet-lovers is circulating the web, and it could cost you more than a new pet. An ad posted to a local online classified website by a man who claimed he was living in Florida. The seller said he had recently moved to Miami, and couldn’t keep his dog due to his new living conditions. He was willing to give the Labrador Retriever puppy named Dely away for the cost of shipping, which was $220.“

#4 Phishing: Phishing continues to become more sophisticated, more effective, and more prevalent. In one example, criminal hackers waited until Pennsylvania school administrators were on vacation, then used simple money transfers to liquidate over $440,000 between December 29 and January 2, 2010.

#5 Spear Phishing: Spear phishing occurs when the scammers concentrate on a localized target, usually an individual with control over a company’s checkbook. This insidious type of phishing occurs when a recipient clicks a link, either in the body of an email or on the spoofed website linked in the email, and a download begins. That download is almost always a virus with a remote control component, which gives the phisher full access to the user’s data, including user names and passwords, credit card and bank account details, and Social Security numbers.

Never, ever click on links in the body of an email. There is always a workaround.

Like mom said, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And even if you will never fall for these scams, someone in your life might be a tad more naïve. So educate them.

McAfee Identity Protection includes proactive identity surveillance to monitor subscribers’ credit and personal information, as well as access to live fraud resolution agents who can help subscribers work through the process of resolving identity theft issues. For additional tips, please visit http://www.counteridentitytheft.com.

Robert Siciliano is a McAfee consultant and identity theft expert. See him discuss job scams on Fox News.(Disclosures)

About the Author
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering Americans so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. His "tell it like it is" style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders to get the straight talk they need to stay safe in a world in which physical and virtual crime is commonplace. Siciliano is accessible, real, professional, and ready to weigh in and comment at a moment's notice on breaking news.

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