Profitable Nomad Couple

81. Staying One Step Ahead of Online Scams

February 21, 2024 Austin and Monica Mangelson
Profitable Nomad Couple
81. Staying One Step Ahead of Online Scams
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever wondered how to keep your online adventures scam-free without losing your sense of adventure?

In this episode, we will shed light on all the secrets of the shadowy world of online scams and teach you how to avoid them.

We've had plenty of experience dealing with cyber crooks, and we've learned a lot along the way. We'll share all that advice and insight with you, so you'll be able to spot scams easily with just a bit of practice.

By learning to identify scams with these tips, you'll be better protected online.

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Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the profitable Nomad Couple podcast. This is a show where we share all of our secrets about building a sustainable location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 2:

We're Austin and Monica. We're a digital Nomad couple here to help you develop an entrepreneurial mindset, ignite your passions and develop a purpose-driven online business.

Speaker 1:

Get ready for weekly insights and inspiring stories to empower you to live life on your own terms.

Speaker 2:

So are you ready to unlock the Nomad mindset and embrace a life of limitless possibilities? Let's dive in. Hi everybody, today, on this episode, we are helping you avoid scams. So this is something that actually a few people have come to us asking about, and it makes me a little bit sad just how many people follow the scams, and I'm not like I don't mean to sound like accusatory of anybody, but online scams are so, so prevalent. We just want to help shine some light on how to avoid them. Monica and I have been victims of scams. We've had our Instagram account hacked before. It is no fun. Luckily, we haven't lost any money from it, but it easily could have happened.

Speaker 1:

It's so frustrating to me just to know how many people are out there scamming people, and a lot of these scams are really good. They're really smart and so, if you like, I know these people have the brains if they applied it to literally anything else.

Speaker 2:

I know that's a frustrating part of it.

Speaker 1:

If you're listening to this and you are a scammer, you should knock it off now, because I am not happy with you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, watch it, monica is going to come for you. But seriously, like, these people have amazing skills that could be applied like in a legitimate job they could do really well and they use it for scamming which is frustrating, and when we say there are a lot like to the tune of billions of dollars.

Speaker 1:

in 2020 alone, the FBI reported that Americans lost about $4.2 billion from online scams. And those are just Americans, you guys.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's billion with the B. About one in every 25 people are victims of identity theft because of online scams, and about 1.3 million people fall victim to online scams every day.

Speaker 1:

Every single day.

Speaker 2:

So this episode's goal is to bring the number down a little bit. Our overarching phrase that we want you to keep in mind, first of all, we're going to be talking about red flags to watch out for, follow it up with, like safe practices, things that you can do to avoid scams. The phrase that I feel like goes along with everything we're going to talk about is to exercise healthy skepticism. Don't take everything at face value, take things with the grain of salt and just exercise healthy skepticism.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, as the John Lamads, there is so much that we do online. There are so many people we meet online. There are so many like. A lot of times we would do things for our clients as virtual assistants and we would literally never meet them. It would all be done online. And so the more you're online, the more that these things are going to come up, and so as you learn what red flags to watch out for and practice the safe practices we have for you, you're going to become immune to all of the nasty gross scammers out there.

Speaker 2:

So our top six red flags to watch out for. Number one unrealistic promises of high salaries or of quick success. So you might have heard the old adage If it's too good to be true, it probably is, and I typically think that's almost always true. If you think something is just too good to be true, if they're promising things that are just way out there, be skeptical of that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, anytime you hear people, I think a really common one I hear all the time is like I help my clients scale to $20,000 a month within two weeks, or hit six figures in your first year of business, or whatever it is. There are so many different versions of this. Watch your hair grow a foot in a month by doing the serum. There are so many different versions of this. So, yeah, if it's too good to be true, it probably is. My dad used to say that all the time, so shout out to you, dad.

Speaker 2:

Your dad is a smart guy. He is a smart guy. He still is a smart guy.

Speaker 1:

He is a very smart guy.

Speaker 2:

Number two vague job descriptions If they don't really explain or describe what the job is that they want you to be doing in this new role you're applying for. Be aware of that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was just going to say, if you dig a little deeper, ask any questions and they still are vague, double read them.

Speaker 2:

Number three unusual requests for money or for personal information. A lot of times these come out of context. They just don't really fit into the conversation. If you've already been having a conversation with them, yeah, if it feels unusual, that's a big sign.

Speaker 1:

I've heard of the scam where it was like they were needing to raise money for computers for a school Things like that. Be cautious.

Speaker 2:

Number four pressure to act quickly or make immediate decisions. I feel like this is a big one. Scammers don't want you to think too much about what you're doing. If you can just do it on on the spot, do it on the fly, it's better for them. So if they're overly pushy or if they're kind of mean about things, trying to pressure you to do things really fast, that's that's often a big sign.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, often if you push back a question and all they instantly switch into bullying you or Gaslighting you or just being really really mean. So if that's the case, walk away. Other things to watch out for number five are red flag. Number five is job postings with poor grammar or suspicious Website addresses y'all.

Speaker 1:

I am a terrible speller, so if you get a message from me and there are things that I'm expelled, it probably was just me but if it's consistent that you see really bad grammar misspellings, really big Issues, like doesn't really sound like a native English speaker or Spanish speaker or whatever, whatever language you're getting these in, or if the website is like has a bunch of random letters or numbers. Or I have seen some where it's like close ish to a regular website or close ish to a regular Instagram handle, like to an actual one, but it's like there's a random period in it or there's a dash.

Speaker 2:

So you do they try and keep it small and unnoticeable?

Speaker 1:

Yep, that's a big red flag.

Speaker 2:

Also, you'll see on websites, right before the website is says HTTPS colon slash slash. The s is is part of a security measure. It's an SSL certificate that websites have nowadays. They're super, super cheap, they're super, super easy to get, so almost all websites have them. But if there's no s, if it's just HTTP colon slash slash, then that's it. That's a huge indicator that that's not a safe website to be on.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I don't, yeah, don't say on the website and definitely don't put any information, card card information, everything on the website the last one, number six, is kind of similar but related to links.

Speaker 2:

If they send you a Link, kind of out of the blue, I mean, often they they want to get through these scams as quickly as possible, scam as many people as they can, so they'll send it Quickly. In the conversation, if it's out of context, monica, I typically make a habit out of not clicking on links that are sent to us by people we don't know, even if they are sent to us by people we know. We keep a really close eye on that. That's how we got scammed, as we got sent a link from an account, that of someone we were friends with, but it was. I think If we had paid a little bit more attention and looked a little bit closer we would have noticed it was a questionable link.

Speaker 1:

I feel like links are the ever seen Monsters University, where it's like do whatever you do, you don't touch it, and the big furry monsters like I want to touch it. That's what I feel like links are for me, like anyone sends me a link and I'm like I want to get I want.

Speaker 1:

Like literally, my mouth instantly goes there and I have to like will it away? And then I have to walk away and then come back and reread it and make sure that it makes sense. So like don't, don't click the links, take, take your time, think about it. Just don't let any of this be rushed as much as you're going to feel rushed. You have the power to walk away. You have all the power in the situation, even if they're trying to make you feel like you don't. You have all the power and sometimes to regain that power, you need to shut your computer, turn off your phone and walk away for a bit.

Speaker 2:

So those are the main six flags that we, that we either have experience or have thought up. That would be big Indicators to things to watch out for that a scam is likely coming. So, following this, we want to share some general like safe practices, things that you can implement, things that you can do To keep yourself safe online and to avoid these types of scams.

Speaker 1:

Okay, number one is my favorite, and that is to trust your gut. Your own intuition is the biggest safety mechanism that you have. If something feels off, even just slightly, lean into it. So often we are taught to ignore our intuition or to question it or to wonder if maybe we're just feeling a little bit gassy. If anything feels off, I want you to trust it, to lean into it, to explore it more and figure out why it feels off.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a really, really big one. Learn to trust yourself, kind of. In general, that's, I guess, a life tip, but especially in this situation, just Think about how you feel, about how the conversation is going or what was sent to you, and if it just doesn't feel right like, don't sit in question too much. If it just feels wrong, move away from it. Our second safe practice is the followers and pictures do not equal credibility.

Speaker 2:

So when Monica and I had our Instagram account hacked before, it was by an account that we were from, someone that we knew, someone we were friends with, but their account had been hacked and then continued to hack other people. So somewhere out there in the universe, on Instagram specifically, is an account that has our names, our faces, and it's following that someone else's. It's someone that's now scamming other people. So on top of that, followers can be bought, followers can be faked, pictures can be faked, so those things don't immediately mean that that account is a credible account. So scammers are often going to not often, but very likely that they could look like somebody that you know. So if someone starts messaging you but it just doesn't sound right, they're asking you for weird things you could start asking them some personal questions, for example, questions that only that person would know because of the relationship you have with them, and then if they're not able to answer or they answer wrong, like if you have another way to contact that person, do it through that other avenue.

Speaker 1:

Or if it's someone who you literally haven't talked to in years and they randomly start messaging you and be skeptical of that. Also be skeptical of if you get friend requests from someone that you feel like you already were friends with or should be friends with.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, because they can take the pictures from the actual account. Create a new account with the same picture. This happened to my dad recently. Someone's out there pretending to be Mike Mangelsen has this picture, but he doesn't have any of the other information none of the same friends I already know. I'm friends with my dad on Facebook, so the fact that he was sending me a friend request was like it was obviously I'm pretty sure my grandma has sent me like 35 friend requests and I'm pretty sure they're not hurry, you know.

Speaker 1:

so definitely just watch out for that. And then, number three, understand the communication method slash channels that will be officially used when I've seen this a lot when you like enter, like giveaways, or when you're trying to, I've seen a lot of people who are like oh, I'm from Instagram and you need to verify your account right now. Instagram is never going to reach out to you guys. They have the worst support system ever. So just know who is going to be reaching out to you and why they're going to be reaching out to you. Make sure that you're very careful about checking the handles. Again, they're really good at just adding in an S or putting in a period or things that are really subtle, but make sure that you know it's the official account, see if you want something or different things like that.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, and this goes for job applications as well. If you're applying for a company, you should understand, and if you don't understand, go find out the official way that they're going to be reaching out to you. If it's on LinkedIn, if it's through a specific email, that way you know if communication comes from that company or that job posting through a different avenue, you don't have to question it. You know it's not them because you know how it's supposed to be coming to you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Along those same lines. If you are applying for a job online, make sure you are researching the company and verifying its legitimacy. So look at the reputation, the reviews, their website, not the link that they send you, but look it up on Google and then contact current employees for information about the company if you can, and then always if you use ever any question or people send you links and you're kind of curious about it, always Google it and then put the word scam after it and it'll pull up any time that people have been questioning if it's a scam or any articles. There's like different scam watches and stuff out there sometimes.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, monika, and I have used this one a lot. Are you going to share the most recent one? Oh, me too. I thought that's why you were laughing. I recently had an ad and this is kind of why I was unsure about it, because it was an official ad. It was on Instagram, I believe. They were advertising 80% off Legosets. You guys, I was so freaking excited.

Speaker 1:

They were pretty like in your defense. They were pretty legit Legosets Like it was like it's basically like building a model plane kind of thing, but with Legos.

Speaker 2:

It was like the official box, like with Lego logo on it, and there were videos of people like dumping them out and building them and I freaking love Legos, you guys and so I was stoked that they were 80% off.

Speaker 1:

He's really good at building things and like building like little model things, so he always jokes that he wants Legos for Christmas or whatever, but they're always super expensive.

Speaker 2:

I did exactly what we just told you guys not to. I clicked on the link from the ad the website it was not the Lego website, which is like. That was my first big red flag that it sent me to a third party platform for the sale. And that's when I knew it was a scam. But my heart wouldn't let me believe it and so I kept questioning it. I'm like, well, it's like an official, like it's a. There's an ad like Instagram wouldn't let scams be ads, right.

Speaker 2:

And so I asked Monica about it. She's like it's probably a scam. I'm like, but it can't be, can't be true. And so I Googled it and I Googled the situation and I put scam at the end. And there are all these examples and testimonies of people who have been scammed the same way. So that's when I had to admit the truth, admit defeat. It was not an actual 80% off deal, it was a scam. So that's like our go to. If we're not sure about something, you just Google it and you'll find a lot of people who have had the unfortunate experience of being scammed by them or have done more research into knowing whether or not it is a scam. So that's my embarrassing story for the. Actually, I'm not embarrassed about that. I'm not embarrassed to admit I like Legos. All right, moving on, I had to advocate for myself right there.

Speaker 1:

All right. So my safe practice is going to be to never pay upfront fees for job applications and or training for that job application. So legitimate jobs do not charge fees for applying, interviewing and do not require you to do paid training before being interviewed.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sometimes you'll have legitimate companies. Companies will do paid trainings, but that's normally after you get the job or after you've gone through, like more official channels and you've. This is especially after you've talked to someone. Where possible, get on an actual phone call or a zoom call or some sort of chat with like a real person. Scammers aren't going to do that. They don't want to show their face. They don't want to get on the call with you. So if you're able to do that, if it's more legit, that's a good sign. But yeah, you will never have to pay a fee for applying for a job.

Speaker 1:

I will say, to that point of getting on a video call with people right now. Scammers are never going to do that. With different AI technology, that might not always be the same, but putting that out there, okay. And then the next one is to be really, really, really cautious about providing personal or financial information online social security numbers, bank accounts, id scans, pictures of your passport, anything like that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I feel like that one's. I mean, hopefully, that one should be obvious, but you should hardly ever give out that kind of information about yourself.

Speaker 1:

I feel like generally, most people are good and just assume that other people are going to be good, but just have that healthy dose of skepticism that we were talking about earlier when it comes to this kind, of thing.

Speaker 2:

Our next one is to report scams wherever possible. If you're getting scammed on a social media platform like Instagram or Facebook, if you're getting spammed on a job posting like a job board or a job website if you're getting text messages getting text messages, report it to whoever is relevant or to whoever you can, so that those people get flagged and that they can get taken down from those sites.

Speaker 2:

So that the more people that do that, the higher a chance they're actually going to get taken down and stop scamming other people. And then, after you report them, go ahead and block them. If it's a phone number, if it's an account, block that person. You don't need them in your life. You don't want to risk them coming back in another way. If you block them, then often you can block that account and related accounts, or if that person ever creates a new account and tries to get in contact with you. I don't know how it works, but computers have a way of telling that it's coming from the same person, so you can block that, and so it'll be less likely to have that happen in the future.

Speaker 1:

We already talked about. The next one, which is to never click suspicious links, or even just links that were sent to you. You can go instead, like, if there's a link that you want to actually check out, I recommend going to Google and typing in the specific company or website that you're looking for not obviously the full URL, but just I don't know if it's like old Navy, just like type in old Navy, and their website should be one of the first ones coming up. And then the last but not least, is to start to notice patterns in the scams that you see. So like I've gotten a lot of like anytime anyone says hey, dear, I know it's a scam.

Speaker 2:

We've had a lot of text messages from people who will say things like oh hey, sarah, are you still able to pick me up from the airport tomorrow? Or oh, I can't wait to have lunch with you. And then you'll say, oh, I think you have the wrong number. And then they'll say something like, oh, I'm so sorry, it must be fate, like we were meant to be getting in contact and like I don't know if you guys have had that same experience. We've had a lot of people texts like that. So we've noticed that pattern, that same messaging, the same framework, the same approach that people try. So the more that that happens, you can kind of notice patterns and stay clear of those.

Speaker 1:

You'll pick it up quick and it kind of I feel like it kind of goes in cycles, like I'll get a bunch of like Bitcoin scam right off the get go, and then I'll change and it'll be like I'll get like Facebook requests hey dear. Yeah, Facebook request. Like it goes in cycles. They're not super original and they're scamming. They're smart, but they're not that smart. So just like pay attention whenever these things happen, take mental note of it, so when it happens again, you spend less mental energy trying to figure it out.

Speaker 2:

So there you go, you guys our top tips for you know safe practices online and when you're applying for jobs or engaging on social medias, and then also some red flags to watch out for. We hope that this gave you some new insights and new information. We really want you guys to be practicing some safe searching out there, safe online surfing. Just don't don't be the bad statistic, you guys. Thanks so much for joining us here on the profitable Nomad Couple podcast. We appreciate you listening to us today.

Speaker 1:

If you enjoyed this episode, share it on Instagram and be sure to tag us. At Austin and Monica, together, we can inspire others to embrace a location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 2:

And while you're there, we'd love to connect with you, so make sure you follow us for more tips and inspiration on living your dream location independent lifestyle.

Speaker 1:

Until next week. Remember that you have the power to shape your own path. So stay curious, stay adventures and stay connected.

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