I was a tech scammer for seven years, and during that time I learned a lot about how these schemes work and what people fall for. Here’s what I learned.
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It all started when a friend asked for my help fixing his computer. I was 17 years old, and I had no idea how to do it. But I pretended I did, and I changed a few settings at random until his computer seemed to be working again. He was so grateful that he gave me $20.
I realized then that I could use my knowledge of computers to make money. So I started scouring the internet for ways to scam people out of their hard-earned cash. For the next seven years, I would trick people into paying me for computer services that I knew nothing about. And I made a lot of money doing it.
I eventually got caught and spent six months in prison. But even then, I didn’t stop scamming people. It wasn’t until I met someone who showed me the error of my ways that I finally stopped this destructive cycle.
Here’s what I learned from my years as a tech scammer.
What is a tech scam?
A tech scam is a type of scam where the purpose is to obtain money or personal information from the victim by pretending to be a legitimate company or person. Tech scams can take many forms, but some of the most common include fake tech support calls, phishing emails, and online advertising.
Tech support scams usually involve the scammers calling victims and pretending to be from a legitimate tech support company like Microsoft or Apple. The scammers will then try to convince the victim that there is something wrong with their computer and that they need to pay for tech support services to fix it. Often, the scammers will ask for remote access to the victim’s computer so they can “fix” the issue. Once they have access, they may install malicious software on the victim’s computer or simply steal personal information.
Phishing emails are another common type of tech scam. These are emails that appear to be from a legitimate company or person, but are actually from a scammer. The email will often contain a link that goes to a fake website that looks real. The goal of these websites is usually to get the victim to enter personal information like their name, address, Social Security number, or credit card number. The scammers can then use this information to steal the victim’s identity or make unauthorized charges on their credit card.
Online advertising is another common source of tech scams. Scammers will create fake ads that look like they are from legitimate companies. These ads often promise free products or services if you click on them. However, if you do click on these ads, you may be taken to a fake website where you are asked to enter personal information or install malicious software.
How do tech scammers find their victims?
There are a number of ways that tech scammers find their victims. They may use social media to find people who have posted about technical problems they are experiencing. They may also use online advertising to reach potential victims. In some cases, they may even contact people who have recently been scammed in an attempt to get them to help them scam other people.
The three most common tech scams
1. The “can you hear me?” scam
This is probably the most common tech scam out there. Also known as the “calle,” this is where someone calls you pretending to be from a tech support company like Microsoft or Apple. They’ll say there’s a problem with your computer and ask if they can remotely access it to take a look. Once they have access, they can install malicious software or steal your personal information.
2. The “free” trial scam
This one is becoming more and more common as scammers find new ways to exploit the way free trials work. Basically, the scammer will trick you into signing up for a free trial of some sort of service, usually for a product like antivirus software. Once you’ve signed up, they’ll start billing you for the full price of the product every month, even though you never agreed to pay that much.
3. The “tech support” scam
This one is similar to the “can you hear me?” scam, but with a twist. Instead of calling you, the scammer will pop up a message on your computer screen that looks like it’s from a legitimate company like Microsoft or Apple. It will say there’s a problem with your computer and ask if you want to call tech support for help. If you call the number, they’ll try to sell you unnecessary services or software or trick you into giving them remote access to your computer so they can steal your personal information.
How to protect yourself from tech scams
There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from tech scams:
-Educate yourself about how tech scams work There are a lot of resources available online that can help you understand how scammers operate.
-Never give out personal information or financial information to someone you don’t know. Scammers are often very persuasive, but remember that they are not your friend and they are not trying to help you.
-If you receive a suspicious call, email, or text message, do not respond. Hang up the phone, delete the email, and block the number.
-If you think you may have been scammed, contact your local law enforcement agency.
This is just a small sampling of the type of scams that are out there. In my seven years of scamming, I learned a lot about how to take advantage of people. I also came to understand the desperation that many people feel when they are faced with a problem that they don’t know how to fix.
I am no longer a scammer. I have left that life behind me and now work as an anti-fraud consultant. I help companies protect themselves from scammers like the person I used to be.
If you think you might be being scammed, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to help you, and you don’t have to go through this alone.