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Beware of these 7 scams in 2024!



Last week, American pop singer Taylor Swift was a victim of sexual harassment when artificial intelligence-generated images of her went viral on various social media platforms in what awakened the world the dangerous route the technology was taking.

The deepfake explicit images of one of the world’s most popular artists flooded X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and Reddit reigniting calls for stiffer regulation of AI technology as its use gains traction rapidly worldwide. The attack on Taylor Swift, an icon in the world stage, perhaps is a pointer that no one will be safe going into the future if the technology is left uncheck and malicious actors go unpunished.

1. Deepfake impersonation scams

According security awareness trainer, KnowBe4, deepfake impersonations will pose the biggest threat to users and companies this year as scammers make use of AI technologies to create new, but fake images, videos, and audio material from existing materials.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) technology makes it easier for fraudsters to create these convincing fake messages from people you know and trust. It enables scammers to generate video and audio that is so convincing, many believe it is real,” says Anna Collard, Senior Vice-President of Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 AFRICA.

Besides use of deepfake AI-generate explicit images for blackmail, extortion or to purely damage your personal reputation like what happened to Taylor Swift, scammers could also send you fake AI-generated voice notes from your boss ordering you to initiate transfer of funds without knowing it’s a scam!

KnowBe4 says fraudsters also use AI-generated voice notes or videos to impersonate a family member, such as a grandchild, who claims to be in distress and in need of money. This is called a grandparent scam.

“People get scammed that way because their emotions are triggered by hearing an authentic sounding voice clip of their loved one and want to help,” adds Collard.

Another fraudulent application of deepfakes is to impersonate politicians to spread confusion or disinformation.

“This is definitely something to watch out for in 2024 as it’s an election year,” she notes.

2. Investment scams

This form of scam is not new but as technology adoption increases worldwide and new technologies rise, investment scams are not going away anytime soon.

These types of scams can appear as trustworthy financial organizations promising incredible returns. KnowBe4 says scammers will often combine cryptocurrency scams with romance scams hence you need to be extra cautious before you lose your hard-earned cash.

The firm says another investment scam you need to be wary of this year involves fake loans that offer low-interest rates but never actually materialise. Instead, victims are required to pay upfront fees or provide their personal information.

“With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, scammers may tempt many individuals to apply for these loans to make ends meet, be very careful of any offers that sound too good to be true.”

3. Romance scams

This is perhaps the oldest of all scams that perhaps even the mightiest in the society have fallen victims since it involves love.

According to Collard by using fake profiles on dating sites or social media, scammers build trust with their victims and then exploit this emotional connection to trick them into sending them money.

“Even though family members might repeatedly warn the victim, they often continue with the romantic deception because once on the hook, psychologically it is very difficult for the victim’s brains to admit that they have been conned,” she explains.

4. Identity and social media profile theft

This involves a fraudster stealing your personal information to commit fraud. Scammers do this via phishing emails or phone calls, as with banking scams.

“Social media profile theft involves hackers hijacking your social media accounts to reach out to your contacts, pretending to be you, spreading malicious software, scams or asking for money,” says Collard.

5. Charity fraud

The more emotional you will be after a disaster will determine whether you fall victim to a scam or escape the trap this year.

Remember, these scams often emerge after a humanitarian crisis like a flood, charity scams frequently emerge. It is good to help but before you make that donation, verify and check the authenticity of the charity.

“These scams play on your emotions and ask you to give money to a worthy cause, but in reality, they are fake charities. Red flags to watch out for are unusual payment methods, such as Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), instead of secure payment platforms.”

“Always make sure that charities are registered before you donate and that you interact with the legitimate NGO or charity before transferring any money,” she advises.

6. Tech support scams

KnowBe4 says this type of scam that you should be aware of this year is scammers posing as IT technicians by trying to convince you that there’s something wrong with your computer and offer to fix it.

They then seize control of your computer and steal your personal information or hack into your bank account. They capitalize on your fear by throwing you into a state of panic before gaining access to your personal information. When you find yourself in this situation, Collard says all you need to cease all communications immediately and directly contact your IT support centre.

7. Puppy scams

While this type of scam is not yet a menace in most markets, be vigilant, KnowBe4 advices. Scammers will often approach you by offering non-existent pure-bred puppies at discounted prices and ask you to cover transport expenses to bring the said dog breed. So, beware.

Don’t be scammed!