CIOs Need To Start To Watch Out For Ad Scammers

CIOs now need to start to watch Craigslist and Ebay for scammers
CIOs now need to start to watch Craigslist and Ebay for scammers
Image Credit: Widjaya Ivan

CIOs need to watch over where the people who work at their company go to when they are using the internet at work. I’m pretty sure that we are all up on blocking the gambling, porn, and other inappropriate sites. However, it turns out that there is a new problem that we have to be aware of. The online ads that your workers willingly click on are more likely to make them a scam victim than the robocalls flooding their work phones with urgent messages. A new study found that scammers are far more likely to succeed in engaging and stealing money from potential targets by using websites and social media than through the phone calls and emails they have long used. What’s the person with the CIO job to do?

How To Conduct A Successful Scam

The people who work at your company are very comfortable using sites like Craigslist and Ebay to make purchases. The result of this comfort is that online marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay are now among the most lucrative venues for scammers to hunt for targets, along with social-media platforms. Such scammers often run official-looking websites with fake consumer reviews, and try to lure your workers with items including used cars, vacation rentals and tickets to popular concerts and sporting events.

A study has been conducted that was based on interviews of 1,408 consumers in 2018 who filed a fraud tip or report to the BBB between 2015 and 2018. On social media, 91% of the respondents said they initially failed to recognize fraudulent advertisements as scams and proceeded to engage, and 53% eventually lost money. On websites, 81% of respondents engaged and 50% lost money. What CIOs need to understand is that those represent far higher success rates for scammers than they experience through phone calls and voicemail, where only 39% of respondents engaged and 11% lost money. Some 42% of scam emails drew engagement and 13% led to monetary losses. The median losses among those who participated in the study were around $600.

So why are workers losing money this way? It could be that worker’s defenses are down or lowered when they are on a site that they choose to visit. It is easier to identify fraudulent activity when it comes through active channels like phone calls where workers may expect it to come through. The study found people most easily fall victim to the type of scams that the BBB categorizes as “online purchase” scams, which involve purchases and sales on direct seller-to-buyer sites like Craigslist and eBay. In one scenario, scammers may pretend to purchase an item and then send the seller a bogus check and ask for a refund of the “accidental” overpayment. In other cases, the scammer, when posing as a seller, will simply never deliver the goods, or may send fake or inferior items.

How CIOs Can Protect Workers From Online Scams

What the person in the CIO position needs to understand is that the people who are conducting these scams are out to make money. Nearly half, or 47%, of the people who reported encountering online purchase scams lost money, compared with other prevalent types of schemes like “tech support” scams, where 32% reported losing money, and sweepstakes/lottery scams, where 15% became victims.

CIOs need to understand which of their workers are most vulnerable to these types of scams. Characteristics often found among scam victims included feelings of loneliness and being isolated from others. People from lower-income households, defined as those earning $50,000 or below annually, also engaged and lost money at significantly higher rates than others. The respondents to the study included both victims and those who escaped the harm of scam attempts. Of all those who participated in the survey, reporting scams from any of the sources studied, 47% said they didn’t engage with the scammers. Among the others, 30% engaged but weren’t victimized while 23% engaged and lost money.

There is good news here for CIOs. The study’s findings underscored the effectiveness of intervention by companies or agencies involved in transactions, such as bank tellers and employees of wire-transfer services. Among the respondents who engaged with scammers, 20% reported that such organizations intervened or tried to intervene to stop the scams and successfully prevented monetary losses in more than half of those cases. Banks and investment firms have in recent years been stepping up efforts to train employees to detect unusual transaction activities to help reduce financial exploitations.

What All Of This Means For You

On top of the importance of information technology that a CIO is responsible for, we also have the task of keeping our workers safe from scammers. These scammers come in many different guises. They may call our workers with offers that are too good to be true, they may send them emails with can’t miss opportunities or, as being done these days, they may use popular sales websites such as Cragslist and Ebay to lure them in. CIOs have a responsibility to understand what the scammers are doing and take steps to make sure that their workers are aware of the dangers that await them online.

Modern scammers have started to use popular online websites such as Ebay and Craigslist to sell their fake goods. The problem is because everyone recognizes these websites, their guard is down and they may not recognize fraudulent ads. The most popular scan is the “online purchase” scam where the victim sends money to the scammer. The scammers are trying to make money. CIOs need to understand which of their workers are the most vulnerable to these types of scams. There is good news: banks and investment firms are starting to step in to help their customers avoid being scammed.

CIOs are the ones who have to remain aware of everything that is going on in the world of technology. We understand that there are scammers out there, we just need to make sure that we understand how they are choosing to operate. With this knowledge, we can provide our workers with the information that they need in order to become more aware and avoid being taken in by the scammers.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How should CIOs let their workers know about how scammers are trying to take their money?

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