How to identify and avoid common online scams: a guide for fintech users

Michael Centeno


Globalisation has several benefits some of which include, global opportunities, improved healthcare, resource sharing and economic growth. However, it also comes with its fair share of cons like exploitation, job loss and an increase in cybercrime and online scams.

As a fintech company, protecting our customers from fraud is a top priority, so we take extra care to detect and prevent possible scams. In this post, we’ll talk about common online scams and how we identify them.

Dating scams

Recently, dating apps have become more popular and unfortunately, so have dating scams. Many people while searching for partners are emotionally vulnerable, making them targets for scammers. One of the most common tactics these scammers use is “catfishing”.

Catfishers create fake profiles to deceive and exploit victims. They steal someone else’s information, images and identity to trick people into entering romantic relationships with them.  It can be hard to tell when you’re being catfished but here are some red flags to be aware of:

  • They show strong emotions in a short amount of time
  • They sound too good to be true
  • The conversation moved quickly from the dating app to private channels
  • They never want to video call
  • They never want to meet up
  • They encourage you to share personal information and secrets
  • They request money to cover expenses like rent, claiming they just lost their job.

It can be difficult for fintechs to identify dating scams but some common strategies we use is transaction monitoring. We look out for unusual transactions to new recipients and keywords indicative of a love interest or financial hardship such as “money for rent” and emojis. Sudden changes in the user’s spending patterns also sets off warning signs.

Also read: How to identify and avoid phishing scams: A guide for safe online transactions

Job offer scams

Many families, businesses and economies are still struggling with financial hardships in the aftermath of the pandemic. This has led to a surge in the number of job scams.

Job scams happen in a variety of ways:

  • Fake job postings on legitimate jobs boards and social media that offer high for little to no experience.
  • Unsolicited job offers
  • Advance fees for training materials and background checks
  • “Earn big and work from home”
  • Requesting personal information

Before applying and accepting job offers, make sure you verify the job listing, and confirm the legitimacy of the company by checking its official website and reading reviews. Also, legitimate employers would never ask for an upfront fee or pressure you to accept their offer. Lastly, if the job sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Lottery scams

Lottery scams are another common online scam customers face, similar to job offer scams. Victims receive emails claiming they've won a lottery with a big payout, often from abroad. To claim the prize, they're asked to pay fees for taxes or processing. This scam can also involve identity theft if personal details are requested.

Some tips to help you spot lottery scams are:

  • The email is from a person, not a company
  • You are asked to keep your “win” a secret
  • You’re not the only email recipient
  • You didn’t buy a ticket and have never heard of the lottery

To protect yourself from lottery scams, make sure you don't share sensitive information, verify the legitimacy of the lottery company and be cautious of emails or messages claiming you won a lottery you didn’t apply for.

Some other ways scammers try to deceive people include:

  • Offering payments in gift cards.
  • Refusing to use the mandatory payment service provided by online platforms.
  • You can’t find the company name or email address on the internet
  • The company’s name closely resembles a well-known global brand but it’s not quite the same e.g. “Amazing Books”.
  • Request for upfront payment to get more later
  • They avoid taking phone calls or providing direct contact information.

Wrapping up

At Grey, we work hard to ensure your funds and data are completely safe with us. We have strong measures in place to keep your data from being hacked by fraudsters and to flag any suspicious activity that might put you at risk. You can learn more about how Grey protects you here.

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