Michael Podolsky
Michael Podolsky
CEO and Co-Founder of PissedConsumer.com

Scammers keep developing and implementing new tactics and methods to trick unsuspecting victims. According to the FTC report, scams resulted in $10 billion in losses in 2023. Email was the primary contact method used by scammers during this period. To protect yourself against threats ranging from phishing emails to seemingly legitimate Facebook scams, stay informed and cautious. 

PissedConsumer.com has interviewed a scam expert, Jorij Abraham, a Managing Director of ScamAdviser.com and GASA. With his extensive experience and expertise in the field, our expert provides valuable insights into new types of scams and offers practical advice on what to do if you've fallen victim to a scam. Discover the latest tactics scammers are deploying and valuable tips on how to protect yourself. 

Get ready to enhance your scam awareness and safeguard yourself against potential threats! 

Here are the points discussed with our scam expert:

About Jorij Abraham

Jorij: I'm Dutch. I live in Amsterdam, and I run two companies. One is ScamAdviser, an online algorithm, which real-time checks if a website is legit or scam. And I run the Global Anti Scam Alliance, which is a nonprofit organization where we try to smash the heads together of policymakers, law enforcement, banks, and telecom operators to better protect consumers against scammers.

About ScamAdviser

Michael: Thank you very much. What does ScamAdviser do? How can consumers use it?

Jorij: ScamAdviser was actually set up in 2012 by Mark, a developer from the UK. The story goes that Mark bought a golf set online, which proved to be a fake, and as you know, Mike, nobody is as dangerous as an angry developer. So he started to develop an algorithm to see, what's the chance of this website being legit or a scam that turns into scamadviser.com. And nowadays, we have more than 5 million unique visitors per month, but more importantly is that we also share our data with antivirus companies, payment service providers, search engines, and social media so that they can check if a website is legit before they allow it on their platform.

Michael: When the consumer encounters a new website or a new platform that they're not familiar with, go online and check out. 

Jorij: Yes, that's what we always tell consumers: if you don't know the website, go and check it out before you use your credit card. So, how does ScamAdviser work? Let's say you enter a webshop.uk into ScamAdviser, just giving an example. Then, we scan the website, and we see it's an online store. It claims to be based in the United Kingdom, but it's actually hosted in Romania, which is fine. But if it offers consumer electronics, we become a little bit suspicious because consumer electronics from Romania to the United Kingdom doesn't happen much. So, we lower the trust score a little bit, and then we see on the server of that website that there are actually 200 other websites, which are exact copies of the same website, just different. That's often a trademark of a scam server. The scammer just repeats his scam over and over and over, so we lower the trust score again, and then we see they have excellent reviews on Sitejabber, but the website is three days old. You cannot have hundreds of positive reviews and be three days old. So, we lower the trust score, and that's basically how our algorithm works. And we also get more and more data from law enforcement like the Dutch police, Swiss Police, and American police, which helps us to continuously improve our algorithm and make it better.

Online Scams and Their Prevalence Across Various Regions

Michael: It's a great resource for consumers to check things out. Online scams happen as long as online businesses exist. What's your opinion? Are scams more sophisticated or less sophisticated right now? Who is the target of scams today?

Jorij: First of all, scams have been around since the Egyptians. I mean, scams have become my hobby. Even the Egyptians already scammed each other with fake, fake merchandise actually. But nowadays, we see that online scams are becoming more and more difficult to recognize. I mean, it used to be easy, Mike; I mean, too good to be true than it probably is. So if you suddenly can get a Chanel bag for $25, you know it's either fake or you're not going to get it at all. But scams have become smarter, so they just keep the price a little bit below the normal sales price, and you still will buy it, and they know that you will buy it because the difference no longer triggers any alerts. We see that scammers are professionalizing, and it becomes very, very difficult for the noble consumer to recognize a scam. And now, of course, with AI, it becomes even more and more difficult to recognize scammers. So we will always have work.

Michael: I agree. Do you see any difference between scam types that exist between different countries and continents? Maybe a specific type of scam is more proliferated in one part of the world but it's not in the other. What would you say?

Jorij: Some scams are universal. The most popular scams we are being checked on ScamAdviser are online shopping scams, which are universal. The shop either doesn't deliver the product, or it's sending you a break to tell the credit card companies that the product was delivered. We also see a lot of investment scams, crypto scams, and trading scams; those are universal. Some scams are more toward national preference. We see a lot of people from India being scammed in employment scams, so the scammer is saying, 'Hey, I can offer you a job in America. You have to pay me a few hundred dollars, and I will get you to America.' That's, of course, a terrible kind of scam. In China, game scams are very popular. I'm going to sell you my magic sword, which you can use in a game. Then, of course, the money is paid, but you don't get the magical sword.

I recently had a gentleman from the Middle East. There was a scammer who launched a platform where you could arrange a wedding - arranged weddings or marriages are still common in some countries. There was a website that said that they would be the middleman, and he was scammed for $5,000, believing that he could arrange a marriage for his daughter. So there are local scams, there are global scams. But I do know, Mike, everybody can get scammed. It's not only that people always think, 'Hey, if I'm scammed, I'm stupid.' No, it can happen to everybody. Recently, we had a professor who had his own very successful company with 20 people specializing in artificial intelligence and trading. He's a very, very smart guy, but he got scammed. He believed that there was a company that was willing to invest in his company, and he even flew to them. He shook their hands, but in the process, they were able to convince him that he first had to pay money to get money, which is an advanced fee scam, and while this guy probably has an IQ of over 150, he got scammed, and it can happen to anybody. While we are weak, we're not paying attention, or we desperately need something, then the scammer hits.

What to Do if You Became a Victim of an International Scam?

Michael: Let's talk about what you can do once you do realize that you've been scammed. My first question in the series would be, Okay, I got scammed by someone from the Middle East, for example. I live in the United States. Do I go to the United States police? Do I go to Dubai Police? What should I do? Who do I go to report such activity? Are there world practices that you can share with us? What should the person do?

Jorij: The person should go to his own police, and that can be the local police or the FBI if you live in the US. I always emphasize to report it. We know that only a global average of 7% of all scams are reported, and the only person who benefits from that is the scammer because he knows that his chances of getting caught are very slim. We see that most scammers, especially if they're professionals, never ever scam in their own country because then they have a chance of getting caught. As soon as they're scamming from across the border, the chances of getting caught are, according to the World Economic Forum, less than 0.05%. And that's the problem, Mike. On the one hand, does reporting a scam make sense? Does it get you a scammer? Probably not. But if we don't report, we don't support our law enforcement to, in the end, catch the guys. And I think it's always important to report. You might get lucky, and you might get your stuff or money back, but if not, you are helping law enforcement build a case to get the scammer in the end. So always report, but you have to do it at your local law enforcement or national law enforcement, depending on the country where you live.

Why Are Scams More Common Among the Young Audience?

Michael: According to the FTC report, 86% of consumers who report losing money to online shopping fraud are of younger age. Are younger shoppers more susceptible to being scammed than older ones?

Jorij:The data of the FTC is very reliable, and we see it being not only an American trend but a global trend in most countries. It used to be that elderly people get scammed more, especially with investment scams. But nowadays, we see that younger people are scammed more and are also losing huge amounts of money. And we both have kids, Mike. So, I think it's because younger people are online more, so the chances of getting scammed are bigger because they are more online, and of course, they are a little bit more careless. We see that elderly people are aware that scammers are very active, and younger people live more in the moment and take more risks and experiment, which is also part of being at that age where you want to experiment and learn. So yes, we see as a global trend that young people are getting scammed more, especially it's not only online shopping; it's a lot of crypto even that bad that in China, 10% of all the students in one year lost money to crypto scammers, and as a result, the Chinese government enforced a training program for students to make sure that they're scanned less. That's one of the benefits of having a stricter regime: you can force everybody to do training so as not to get scammed.

Michael: On the other hand, maybe because they're reporting it. It's going back to your earlier comment that if a consumer gets scammed, it may not be pleasant to deal with; report it - it's a waste of time more often than not because it'll not bring the results back that you want. Most likely, however, it'll alert the government. It'll perhaps support training programs for local people so the government will know about the types of scams that are happening. It'll help other people in the neighborhood.

Jorij: Yeah, it does.

Types of New Scams and Ways to Protect Yourself

Michael: Emails. Nigerian emails are historic, right? Everyone has received Nigerian wealth or a Nigerian inheritance email in the world. Those who have typical, what, ten years ago? It started probably 15 years ago. What are the popular scams today? What's happening? What's hot on the market, on the scam market today? Is it an email? Is it social media? What kind of condemnation scams do you see?

Jorij: Yeah, email is still there, and lots of it. And yes, we are better. Our spam filters are getting better at blocking them, but the same with texts or SMS messages. They're still being used. They're still sent out a lot. And the general statistics show that 2% of the people who receive them fall for them, so it works. So they will continue. But we do see a huge shift towards social media, and very honestly, especially Facebook and YouTube are full of scammers. They're advertising very aggressively because they can, if you don't deliver the products, your product margin is great. So you can advertise a lot on YouTube, Facebook, or Google search, and that's what we see now that scammers are no longer just sending bulk emails or bulk text. They're really advertising on platforms because they have the money, and they know they're going to make a great dividend.

Michael:That's true. My recommendation to fellow consumers is, first of all, to run away from the companies that don't offer credit card payments. And if the company offers a selection of payment types, be that PayPal, credit card, Payoneer, or cash, always go with the credit card because a credit card does offer you a level of protection. On the one hand, you can always report a payment as a scam payment to the credit card, and you have almost a hundred percent chance of getting that money back. On the other hand, you also alert a new credit card company to the possible scam, and credit card is able to pull thousands and thousands of transactions that go to a particular merchant account and perhaps stop the scammer or get to the scammer because credit card does offer that layer of protection that consumer can rely upon. Am I correct in my recommendation?

Jorij: Yes. I also always recommend using a safe payment method, a PayPal credit card. You have a good chance of getting your money back, but it's not perfect. You also have your own responsibility, and we see that credit cards and also PayPal are getting more strict in the sense that if you ordered a Chanel back at $25, what do you expect? We see a change in behavior with credit cards and PayPal that it's not as easy to get your money back as it used to be, and in some cases they don't. It's not a free ride for the consumer. The consumer also has to watch his back and think before he uses his credit card or PayPal account.

Facebook Scams and Red Flags from ScamAdviser

Michael: True, I completely agree. Always remember if it is too sweet to be true, don't believe in it. What recommendations can you make to consumers for the email? Always be worried. You will always be wary of emails from unknown email addresses. Always look at the URL, whether the URL or the link in the email actually points to the website it perpetrates to be. Those small technology things are easy to spot on the consumer side. I get emails from Facebook saying that my Facebook account has been locked, but it's nothing because it's just a scam. People are trying to get my login credentials for my Facebook. I recommend reading into the URL line to see whether it brings you back to Facebook or not, and it's just an example that I'm advising consumers. Also, Facebook will never send you an email from a Gmail account or Yahoo account. So, the Facebook email would come from your Facebook email account. Those are important things that consumers should be watching for when looking at possible scam emails. Do you have any other examples that you can suggest? What are the red flags for people to monitor?

Jorij: I think your advice is very good, Mike. What we recommend is that if your bank contacts you, if law enforcement contacts you, if you get an email from Facebook, don't click on the link. If you are contacted by anybody and say, 'Yes, thank you very much, and I will call you now on your regular number,' or with an email, go directly to Facebook. Don't click on the link; go directly to Facebook and log in there to resolve the issue. Or if your bank calls saying that you have to transfer your money to a safe account because you have been hacked, in this case, just smash the phone down and call your bank because they're phishing you. But many people are being called. And with artificial intelligence getting so good there, they're being called with the voice of their son or daughter, saying that they're in trouble and they need money. Tell them, 'I'm going to hang up now, and I'm going to call you back on your normal phone to solve the issue.' Because it becomes more and more difficult for consumers to recognize scams because the emails, text messages, and video calls are getting so good that it's very difficult to be sure if it's the scammer or the real person.

How to Report a Scammer

Michael: Thank you for pinpointing some of the red flags. Another piece of advice I can give is the following: whenever you are being hunted or reached out to by email or SMS, you have been offered a phone number to call; follow what you already said - call on the regular number and also run the numbers through Google, see what Google says about a particular phone number, whether it belongs to the real organization. Also, make sure that the URL of the organization and the website name of the organization correspond to the brand name that you are planning to connect to and contact. It's extremely important. 

If you are in the middle of the scam, you are being scammed, and you do realize that you got scammed. Psychologically, does it make sense to alert the scammers that you realize that you are being scammed, or does it make sense to silently leave the connection going and go to the police? What's the recommendation?

Jorij: As soon as you know, Hey, this is a scammer, I recommend two things. I recommend breaking off the connection, hanging up the phone, stopping answering two emails, and just breaking off the connection. It doesn't make sense to tell the scammer that you know he's a scammer because, one, he doesn't care. And two, you are only giving him feedback to make his scam better the next time with the next victim. And generally advise cutting off the connection and warning the police. In some cases, in Japan, there is actually a program running at the moment where they are asking consumers to keep the connection going, especially with scams where the person says, 'Hey, your banking card has been compromised. We will now come to your house to take your bank card and block your bank card for you.' In that case, the police would like you to call them, and then they will wait at your home to pick up the camera. But in general, my advice is to contact the police and ask them what you should do. And police, in 99% of the cases, will say, 'Break off any connection. Don't start a discussion. It is no use.' But there might be some cases where they say, please keep the connection going, and we will support you so that we might have a chance to catch him. But the first step is to contact the police.

ScamAdviser Tips

Michael:Thank you. What's your key message? Can you summarize this discussion? Or maybe you have additional messages to share with PissedConsumer?

Jorij: I think the situation is difficult at the moment. Online scams are booming, and it's not going to go away for a very long time. But I am optimistic. With the software viruses with malware in the nineties, we also didn't have it under control, and they did a lot of harm. But I do think we can, in the end, win. I recommend two things to consumers. One - always be on the alert. As you were saying, Mike, if it's too good to be true, don't proceed because it is too good to be true. Warn the police, do report, even though the scammer is probably abroad, and he will not be caught. We are helping law enforcement get as much data as possible to get the bad guy. So stay alert and report.

Michael: Thank you very much. In the end, I would like to say - please go check out scamadviser.com, a useful site. Please don't forget to like this video, share it, and give it to others - your friends and families to see who may be scammed. Thank you. Jorij, I appreciate your time, and thank you for being on the show.

Have you heard about the types of scams discussed in our interview? Or perhaps you've fallen victim to a fraudster? We'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences on ways to protect yourself. You are welcome to share them in the comments section below. Please follow us on YouTube to watch more videos with valuable consumer tips and insights.

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  1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
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