Protect Yourself from the Rise of Deception in 2023 with These 10 Warning Signs

Introduction

We live in an increasingly digital world where deception is becoming more sophisticated by the day. Advancements in artificial intelligence are enabling scammers to create highly convincing fakes that can fool even the most tech-savvy among us. As we head into 2023, it’s important to stay one step ahead of these deceptive tactics. In this post, I’ll outline 10 warning signs to watch out for that could indicate you’re interacting with a scam. By understanding the latest tricks and being wary of anything that seems too good to be true, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from falling victim.

Recovery Scams

One scam that’s been around for a while but remains prominent is the “recovery scam.” These scammers prey on people who have already been defrauded, typically contacting them via comments on platforms like YouTube or social media. They’ll claim they can recover the victim’s lost funds if they provide payment details. Of course, this is just a ruse to steal more money or personal information. If you see comments touting a supposed funds recovery, do not engage – simply report and block the commenter.

AI-Generated Fake Products

Advances in artificial intelligence are allowing scammers to create highly convincing but completely fake product listings. One example shared on Reddit featured AI-generated cat chair images on Facebook Marketplace. The listings seemed like great deals at $50 but were entirely fabricated. Be wary of ostensibly bargain products, especially from unknown sellers, as there’s a good chance they don’t truly exist. Take time to research listings and look closely at photos, as AI images can still appear unnatural upon close inspection.

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Phishing Apps

A worrying phone scam making the rounds, particularly in China but likely to spread elsewhere, involves scammers posing as law enforcement. They’ll claim you have legal issues that require downloading an app to verify your case details. As you may have guessed, the app is actually malware designed to steal financial info. Never install unsolicited apps, and know that legitimate organizations will never contact you in this way. If pressed, just hang up – your safety is most important.

College Exam Prep Scams

Parents, be on alert for a scam targeting families with teens applying to college. Scammers have been calling parents claiming their child recently purchased prep materials for exams like the SAT or ACT. Naturally, they just need payment info to “ship” the goods. Stay skeptical of any unplanned purchase calls and don’t provide financial data without verifying details with your child first. One small lie is all it takes to compromise your accounts.

 iCloud Removal Scams

If your mobile device is ever stolen, beware follow-up scams trying to steal it further. Perpetrators may contact you posing as the new “owner” and pressure you to remove the iCloud lock. They’ll spin elaborate stories and threaten to data dump or sell your info if non-compliant. Don’t fall for fake sympathy tales – your privacy and security are the top priority here. Simply block any numbers harassing you after a theft.

Jury Duty Scams

Impersonating authorities is a scam classic and “jury duty” schemes have seen a revival. Calls claim you missed service and now face fines, but the penalty can magically disappear if you provide credit card details over the phone. Stay suspicious of any caller demanding instant payment for an alleged infraction. Legitimate organizations will never coerce this type of sensitive data from you under threat.

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Gas Pump Skimmers

Be on high alert filling your tank, as “pump skimmers” are making a comeback. An all-too-helpful stranger may swap your nozzle during the transaction, preventing it from fully closing out the purchase on your card. They then siphon fuel into their own vehicle while racking up charges on your account. Remain aware and watch the nozzle return process closely to avoid this sneaky theft.

Phony AI Product Images

Ecommerce fraud involving fake AI-generated product listings is growing fast. Scammers set up websites apparently offering in-demand items at discounts, using convincing deepfakes to depict the merchandise. When ordered, of course, nothing is delivered except an empty bank account. Only purchase from trusted retailers and validate images match reality upon careful inspection. Fakes can fool even experienced eyes.

Romance Scams

Forming emotional connections only to exploit them for financial gain – there is no lower tactic than the romance scam. Perpetrators troll dating apps and build online relationships, all with the sole purpose of eventually begging for “emergency” cash assistance from their unwitting target. Never provide funds to new connections, especially those you’ve never met in person. Time invested means nothing to criminal mindsets.

 Ozempic Scam

Even medical products aren’t safe from fake online resellers. Ozempic is a prescription drug for diabetes and weight loss reportedly in short supply, making it a prime target. Bogus storefronts now purport to sell the medicine without a Rx, often at steep discounts. Needless to say, ordering mystery substances from unverified vendors is a gamble no one should take with their health. Authentic medications always require verifying prescriptions through proper pharmacies.

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Conclusion

As deepfakes, synthetic media and artificial intelligence all exponentially improve, so too will the deceptions crafted using these capabilities. The only protection is remaining constantly vigilant, taking nothing at face value, and seeking verification before acting on unsolicited requests. If something seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. With awareness of these evolving scam tactics, we can continue working together to make the online world a safer place for all.

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