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It's Benefit Auction Season - and SCAM Season!

Image result for scam seasonBy Peter Tsai Spiceworks, Matt Price Contributing

You know the saying, "There's a sucker born every minute." And that's exactly what hackers are counting on in order to reel in unsuspecting victims. All it takes is one person to fall for social engineering, or click on a malicious link embedded in spam for the bad guys to gain a foothold on your network.

And even if your users are vigilant, it just takes one momentary lapse in judgement to put your company at risk, and cause your IT department a world of pain. To keep your network safe from cyberthreats everyone needs to be trained to look out for spam scams and phishing emails.


After all, email filters don't catch everything, and people are often the weakest link in the security chain. Below is a list of real-life spam reported by members of the Spiceworks Community. Check out the links so you can familiarize yourself with examples of tricks scammers use, so that the next time a suspicious email lands in your inbox, your users won't become yet another victim.

Online hackers' lonely hearts club scams

It's one of the oldest tricks in the book: Scammers posing as a potential boyfriend or girlfriend in order to manipulate victims. Whether looking to steal your company's secrets or get into your wallet, you can bet the bad guys aren't in it for love.

    "Tanya" wants to give you all of her love ... yeah right!
    If you're lonely, I will steal your data
    Goodness! This internet person wants to be friends

Pssssst.... You got a minute?

Some cases you will get a email from what looks like a person who you know, asking you if you have a minute to talk. On your response, it starts to escalate to wanting money for something that you don't know about, or it goes down to having to send pre-paid gift cards to them via email or to a place out of Country.

    George, Are you free at the moment?
    Do you plan on paying me back for that Coke?
    Did you see my press release?

Fake documents with nasty payloads

Perhaps one of the most common scams out there involves hackers pretending to be someone you know. Often, they'll send you an innocent-looking file for you to open. Even if this person is a friend or family member, or a client you work with ... If there's even a hint of suspicious behavior, don't fall for it. The link you click might contain malware.

    Hardcore phishing at its finest using a PDF viewer
    OneDrive PDF phishing attempt
    SharePoint phishing attempt

Offers too good to be true

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When a stranger wants to give you money for nothing via the internet or phone, know that there's going to be a catch (there's always going to be a catch)!

That link you click on to collect your prize might be malware, or the scammers might disappear with the money or information you give them before they can deliver your (fake) million-dollar payday. These scams take many different forms: If someone calls offering you a loan, a free holiday, to lower your electricity bill, or sell you a product at an incredibly low rate (or free), beware. Learn from these real-life scams below:

    Free iPhones from the CEO of Facebook!
    Free Bitcoin for you!
    The Nigerian prince refund
    A real life Robin Hood wants to share the wealth with you

Hollow threats

If you suddenly get a threatening call from an unknown party urging you to take immediate action ... OR ELSE, it's likely 100 percent fake. In actuality, no one wants to kill you (unless you did something really bad), the government isn't going to arrest you for unpaid bills, and no one has incriminating pictures of you stored on their computer.

If someone claims to be calling from an agency such as the IRS, you can also make sure they are who they say they are, by calling the organization directly. The examples below are all scams, so watch out for similar instances in the wild.

    Hitmen are spammers too?
    I have video of you doing naughty things
    IRS will send you to jail ... not really
    WannaCry is back unless you pay up (don't fall for this lie)

Fake bossy coworkers

Sometimes hackers aren't trying to infect your system with a virus, but they want to get something out of you ... whether that's information, money, or elevated permissions. These next two examples show how the bad guys can pretend to be someone with authority within your company in order to trick people into doing their bidding.

    The CEO needs 19 GameStop gift cards ... right now!
    HR wants you to give a random guy admin privileges

Just plain weird

If there's a silver lining to all of this, it's that some of these spam scams are so lame that they end up being unintentionally funny. Here are a couple of ridiculous requests that probably didn't work on anyone.

    Please take this phony survey ... for the good of science!
    Move over Jon Snow. "Dee Dee" Targaryen is looking to form new alliances over email!

As you can see, there are plenty spam scams in the world, and there's no end in sight. And as long as someone continues to fall for these tricks, the bad guys are going to keep doing their thing. But if you and your users are aware of these scams, you can rest a little easier at night, knowing that you're not going to fall victim to these attempts at deception.