It just never ends. No matter how much publicity these scams get, no matter how many years old the internet is, people still hand over their money to scammers.

falling for a phishing scam.” data-reactid=”33″>It doesn’t matter how powerful or educated you are, either. Just ask Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, who exposed the campaign’s email stash by falling for a phishing scam.

Hackers stole $172 billion from consumers in 20 countries in 2017, according to Norton;  2.7 million Americans reported some form of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. (Top states: Florida, Georgia, and Nevada.)” data-reactid=”34″>Hackers stole $172 billion from consumers in 20 countries in 2017, according to Norton;  2.7 million Americans reported some form of fraud to the Federal Trade Commission. (Top states: Florida, Georgia, and Nevada.)

Most internet scams are fundamentally the same. They prey on one of two human weaknesses:

Here’s a shocker: Not everything you read on the internet is true. And so, for your own entertainment and education, here they are: 9 internet scams we’re still falling for.

a more targeted approach known as spear phishing.” data-reactid=”58″>Why is it getting worse? Scammers are making their phishing attempts seem more plausible to suckers like us by addressing their scams to specific people and making it look like emails come from a trustworthy source — a more targeted approach known as spear phishing.

www.citibank.com or whatever). You’ll discover, of course, that there’s nothing wrong with your account.” data-reactid=”88″>If the email comes from a company, open your web browser and type in the company’s address yourself (www.citibank.com or whatever). You’ll discover, of course, that there’s nothing wrong with your account.

Usually, though, you can tell at a glance that these emails are fake. They’re filled with misspellings, typos, and the wording of a non-native English speaker.

But here’s my favorite trick of all: You can confirm that a phishing email is fake!

2. Ransomware

This kind of cyberattack has also grown explosively in the last couple of years—2,500%, by one estimate by the security firm Carbon Black. You succumb by opening a file you shouldn’t have—an email attachment you’re tricked into double-clicking, for example, or a download from a piracy site.” data-reactid=”121″>This kind of cyberattack has also grown explosively in the last couple of years—2,500%, by one estimate by the security firm Carbon Black. You succumb by opening a file you shouldn’t have—an email attachment you’re tricked into double-clicking, for example, or a download from a piracy site.

Yes, your files are locked. It’s a bad day.

The FBI and security experts encourage you not to pay the ransom; you’ll only encourage more ransomware attacks.

options for getting your files back otherwise are slim. Best bet — yes, you’ve heard this before — is to set up a continuous backup system, accept the latest Windows (MSFT) updates when they come, don’t open emailed file attachments, and don’t download pirated files.” data-reactid=”144″>Unfortunately, if you don’t have a backup, your options for getting your files back otherwise are slim. Best bet — yes, you’ve heard this before — is to set up a continuous backup system, accept the latest Windows (MSFT) updates when they come, don’t open emailed file attachments, and don’t download pirated files.

3. The “mugged on vacation” scam

says an email from one of your friends. “I was mugged, and all my belongings including cell phone and credit card were all stolen at gunpoint. I need your help flying back home and paying my hotel bills!”” data-reactid=”146″>“I’m writing this message to you with great sadness,” says an email from one of your friends. “I was mugged, and all my belongings including cell phone and credit card were all stolen at gunpoint. I need your help flying back home and paying my hotel bills!”

Needless to say, your friend wasn’t actually in London and hasn’t been mugged.

No, your friend hasn’t been mugged.

Instead, the bad guys have planted software on your friend’s computer that sent this same sob-story email to everyone in his address book. (In a variation on this, a scammer takes over your friend’s Facebook profile and sends the message directly from there.)

4. The fake-check scam

You’re trying to sell something on Craigslist, the free classified-ads site — a bicycle for $300, let’s say. You hit paydirt almost immediately:

“Send me your address, and I will mail you check right away for $1,500 to cover the bike and shipping to me in Germany. Deposit the check, and then send $450 by Western Union to my shipping company.”

No, you don’t have a buyer for your Craigslist item.

Three big clues that you’re being targeted: (a) The offer is for more than you’re asking; (b) you’re supposed to send your item to another country; and (c​) you’re asked to use the other guy’s shipping company.

Fraud.org says that internet-merchandise scams represent a third of all reports it gets. If you’re going to buy anything online, pay by credit card (because if it’s a ripoff, the bank pays instead of you). And compare the price with the same kind of thing on, for example, Amazon. That way you’ll know if it’s too good to be true.” data-reactid=”197″>Fraud.org says that internet-merchandise scams represent a third of all reports it gets. If you’re going to buy anything online, pay by credit card (because if it’s a ripoff, the bank pays instead of you). And compare the price with the same kind of thing on, for example, Amazon. That way you’ll know if it’s too good to be true.

5. The you’ve-won-the-sweepstakes scam

Hey, wow! You just won an overseas sweepstakes — one that you never even entered! How lucky can you be?

No, you haven’t won the lottery.

Similar cons: “You’re pre-approved for a credit card!” “You’ve landed a great job!” “You’re invited to a great investment!” “You owe money on a debt you didn’t know you had!”

with losses of nearly $112 million. The Better Business Bureau calls these tricks some of “most serious and pervasive frauds operating today.”” data-reactid=”223″>All told, last year the FBI and the FTC received complaints about sweepstakes and lottery scams from 145,881 Americans with losses of nearly $112 million. The Better Business Bureau calls these tricks some of “most serious and pervasive frauds operating today.”

6. The Nigerian email scam

this and other impostor scams to the FTC last year, losing $328 million. Commence mass forehead-slapping.” data-reactid=”225″>Yes, people still fall for the Nigerian scam (also called the 419 scam, a reference to a Nigerian law code). A lot of people; 350,000 people reported this and other impostor scams to the FTC last year, losing $328 million. Commence mass forehead-slapping.

It comes to you by email:

“I am Mr. Paul Agabi,” it says. “I am the personal attorney to Mr. Harold Cooper, a national of your country, who used to work with Exxon Oil Company in Nigeria. On the 21st of April, my client, his wife and their only child were involved in a car accident. All occupants of the vehicle unfortunately lost their lives.”

No, you haven’t inherited millions from a Nigerian diplomat.

So you get excited. You write back.

A week later, there’s another problem — he needs another payment, this time to take care of taxes. You send it.

Then legal fees. Then other fees.

 the “Nigerian” or “419″ scam (named for the section of the Nigerian penal code it violates).” data-reactid=”253″>You will never get any money. You will be asked to send more, more, more money until you come to your senses and realize you’re being bilked. Though it has expanded beyond the country of Nigeria, it is still called the “Nigerian” or “419″ scam (named for the section of the Nigerian penal code it violates).

7. The soulmate scam

was the second most-reported crime in 2017after business email compromise crime. You’re on a dating site, and you find The One: gorgeous, witty, and really into you. And this person really wants to meet you — and hints that your first date will be something you’ll never forget. You’re hooked, lined, and sunk.” data-reactid=”255″>The FBI says that “confidence/romance fraud” was the second most-reported crime in 2017, after business email compromise crime. You’re on a dating site, and you find The One: gorgeous, witty, and really into you. And this person really wants to meet you — and hints that your first date will be something you’ll never forget. You’re hooked, lined, and sunk.

No, she’s not real, and she’s not into you. (Flickr photo by Shan Sheehan.)

Oh—but your new love needs a little money for a ticket to come see you.

Oh, and can you help out with his/her rent?

And how does it go when the big night arrives? It doesn’t. Your dream lover doesn’t show up, because it’s not a real person. It’s a stock photo and a con artist, usually in Nigeria or Russia, who’s been playing you.

8. The “infection detected” scam

FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the FTC got a combined 41,000 complaints last year, from Americans bilked of $21 million.” data-reactid=”280″>This one, also known as the tech-support scam, is often run out of call centers in India, and it’s a doozie. “Reports of computer tech support scams have exploded in recent years,” says the Better Business Bureau. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and the FTC got a combined 41,000 complaints last year, from Americans bilked of $21 million.

You’re on the web, when a pop-up message appears, claiming that your computer might be infected by a virus. You’re invited to click a link that will scan your system for infections. Surprise, surprise — the scan discovers one!

And for the low, low price of $50 (or $300, or $500), this mysterious remote company will clean up your PC for you.

No, you’re not infected. No, you should not call. Just quit your browser.

9. The bogus charity scam

Every time there’s a disaster — a hurricane, an earthquake — millions of people, grateful to be safe and concerned for the victims, want to help.

And a few people want to cash in.

added the fake-charity scam to one of its “dirty dozen” of the nastiest frauds last year, and no wonder: it punishes people who are trying to do good.” data-reactid=”307″>The IRS added the fake-charity scam to one of its “dirty dozen” of the nastiest frauds last year, and no wonder: it punishes people who are trying to do good.

If, in the aftermath of a disaster, you get an email seeking money to help the victims, don’t click. Instead, go directly to the website of a charity you know, and contribute there!

offers this advice:” data-reactid=”309″>The IRS also offers this advice:

  • Be wary of charities with names that are similar to familiar or nationally known organizations.
  • Ask for the charity’s Employer Identification Numbers (EIN), and check it against the IRS’s list of legitimate Tax-Exempt Organizations list.
  • Don’t give your Social Security number or any passwords! No legitimate charity needs that stuff.
  • Pay by check or credit card — never cash — so there’s documentation of the gift.

Human, meet internet

None of this is new. None of this is surprising. The internet may be the latest conduit for scams, hoaxes, and frauds — but the greed, fear, and hope it exploits are as old as homo sapiens.

But here’s the thing: homo sapiens means “wise person.” You have brains, too. Use them to steer clear of anything that’s too good to be true.

Spread the word, will you?

This is an updated article from 2015.” data-reactid=”319″>This is an updated article from 2015.

davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s poguester@yahoo.com. You can sign up to get his stuff by email, here.  ” data-reactid=”320″>David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, welcomes comments below. On the web, he’s davidpogue.com. On Twitter, he’s @pogue. On email, he’s poguester@yahoo.com. You can sign up to get his stuff by email, here.  

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