Online Scams: What They Are And How To Avoid Them

Let’s see how the crime of fraud is declined in the online world and the differences with money laundering, to understand how to counter these phenomena

More and more often we hear about online scams that are direct consequences of the increase in commercial negotiations carried out through this channel. Therefore, let’s try to outline the main elements, specifying that online fraud is not an autonomous type of crime, but must be brought back to the general concept of fraud under art. Six hundred forty of the Criminal Code shows how even this type of crime can be charged with money laundering or self-laundering.

Online Scams During COVID Times

Let’s consider some of the latest types of online scams, some connected with the Covid-19 phenomenon.

Man-in-the-middle Attack

The technique consists of intervening between two subjects assuming one of them’s identity and having relations with the unsuspecting interlocutor to acquire confidential information and distraction of transfers and various payments.

In an online dialogue, usually for business reasons, a third person takes one of the two to extort money from the other confidential information and distraction of wire transfers and various payments.

“The most frequent method of carrying out criminal conduct – explain the postal investigators – is that of abusive computer access to email boxes and other accounts in use by the victim. The hacker is thus able to observe and intercept, managing the mail client personally through the IMAP Protocol, or to channel the emails from the interested party to a hidden folder, under his direct control, allowing him, without the knowledge of parties, to read, alter or modify the content of the correspondence “.


For phishing, we mean the massive theft of digital identities through various emails that induce the victim to directly release their information tricks ( username, password and personal information ).

These computer scams aim to hoard personal data and, therefore, to extort money by deceiving.

Packaging and Invoice Spam

An email indicating the wrong purchase requires opening an attached pdf containing an exploit, which eventually transferred the Emotet Trojan to your device.

Online Ticket Scams

They are scams aimed at consumers who are tricked into buying fake tickets for sporting events or concerts (usually high profile). Fake passports tend to be duplicated or have a counterfeit barcode that does not allow entry, and in the worst-case scenario, no tickets have been issued.

Digital Extortion

Online scam used by criminal hackers to extort money from their victims through sexual blackmail ( sextortion ) carried out on social networks or through fake threatening emails.

For example, the scammer happened to say that he took control of your monitor and webcam and that he recorded both you and the pornographic material and created a video. And he threatens to send the video to everyone.

At this point, the scammer plays the part of the “good” and promises not to spread the video and to make everything disappear for the paltry sum of a thousand dollars in Bitcoin.

Online grooming is also part of this criminal activity. Online grooming is a slow process initiated by an abusive adult who uses new technologies to seek contacts, psychologically manipulating minors to build pseudo-sentimental relationships to induce and involve children in actual and tech-mediated sexual actions.

The phenomenon has experienced a recent progressive worsening of new technologies’ simultaneous diffusion among young and very young people.

Pedophiles are increasingly using social networks to identify their targets, taking advantage of the IT inexperience and the desire for protagonism of young people who expose a large part of their public and private life.

Online abusers identify the victims geographically more next, the preferred age groups, gender and attitudes most attractive.

Instant messaging (for example WhatsApp), which has currently almost wholly supplanted the use of SMS and MMS, has led online abusers to increasingly choose services such as WhatsApp as the theatre of attempts to “hook up” potential victims. , Snapchat, Telegram, favouring among these those that make it technically more difficult to identify users.

Many lurkers, groomers, dedicate themselves almost exclusively to this type of activity, favouring the techno medical dialectic with minors over contacts with other abusers to share child pornography material.

The priority interest of these subjects is to build a relationship that induces the minor in a state of psychological subjection such as to lead the victim to be increasingly collaborative and confident in the good intentions of the adult, colluding with requests for secrecy and preparing the ground to real encounters.

It is not uncommon for the abuser to send pornography and child pornography images to the boy/girl in the solicitation process, increase their familiarity with sexuality, and try to “normalize” the sexual actions required and more generally, sexual relations between adults and minors.

The sexual images that the victims are induced to produce by taking intimate photos or making short films with mobile phones can become a source of profit for the abuser.

An element of exchange and credit in pedophile circuits or be the subject of threats so that the minor accepts perform other sexual actions.

Fake Crowdfunding

This type of scam relies on people’s willingness to help someone in their time of need. Scammers will come up with some heartwarming stories while using crowdfunding websites.

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