Over the years, there are many different street scams around us such as the “spiritual blessing gangs” and “tout scam”, which have been evolved into phone scams and phishing scams in recent years. Many people were scammed and losing a lot of money. According to the official crime statistics report in Macao, the number of reported scam cases increased from 743 to 1525 cases during 2016 to 2019. Among the scam cases, around 30% of the cases are related to phone or cyber scam. Since the beginning of the year until now, there have been numbers of scam cases related to online-shopping of face mask in Macao and nearby regions, with thousands of victims losing tens of millions of Macao dollars. Such situation cannot be ignored.
In fact, scammers usually use some recent hot topics highly concerned by many people, such as procurement of face masks, new coronary pneumonia, shortage of daily necessities, crude oil prices, video conferencing, etc. They will adopt social engineering techniques to carry out various scams, such as scams of money, personal data, account passwords, or tricking victims to install Trojan horse for long-term surveillance or stealing information, etc.
Social engineering most commonly appears in phishing emails. Although our email system can filter malicious emails, users’ awareness of information security is actually the front line of defense besides technology. Taking one of the phishing emails reported in February as an example, it is not difficult to find some suspicious flaws (see the figure below).
* Remark: Refer to UM official internal email about payrolls as below, the real URL address will be shown when the mouse moves over to the web link. You can see the URL address containing the UM domain name “um.edu.mo” or “umac.mo”.
Although scammers will keep changing the way of fraud, their essence will not change. You should stay alert all the time and remember “Stop and Think! Do Fact Check!” for preventing scammers from taking advantage of the scam opportunities.