Have You Ever Been The Victim Of An Internet Scam?

Have You Ever Been The Victim Of An Internet Scam?

Scams on the Internet come in many forms — phishing attempts, email hoaxes, online selling and buying cons. Have you been the victim of any?

Image by Carlos A. Oliveras (Shutterstock)

Lifehacker readers tend to be a little savvier than the average Internet citizen when it comes to avoiding scams, but there are some clever people out there trying to get what’s yours. We’ve talked about how to protect yourself from online fraud and identity theft before. We’ve also offered some advice about avoiding scams when buying or selling online. But we’re curious about your stories. Let us know if you’ve fallen victim to an Internet scam and also what you did about it.


  • Not myself, but recently I have had to help a friend who fell victim to ransom-ware.
    (if that counts) They posed as a government agency telling her that she was viewing illegal pornography, took a picture of her with her own webcam, then the malware encrypted her files.
    She got a letter in snail mail and everything so it all looked official. She had to pay a $1000 supposedly to lift the charge and then they told them they would keep tabs on her.
    The poor thing very nearly payed it she was so scared until we all told her not to and explained what was happening.

    • So what ended up happening? Did you go to the police, or were you able to simply clean her machine and forget about it?

      • Reported it to police, and then just wiped the whole hard drive and started anew.
        You can still access your files with a bootable linux usb so recovered the important stuff.
        She did not have very good virus or malware prevention software installed previously so I
        gave her a full arsenal of new ones :). Shouldn’t happen again for a while

  • A family member got the ransomware that blocks all internet access, tells you that you have been detected with kiddy porn, shows you a picture of you taken with your webcam, etc, etc. They are not silly and asked me to help and after a bit of faffing around, it was sorted. My 16yo son got one of those calls – “your computer has been detected with a virus, please hit run and enter this command…” but he played them like an old fiddle until the guy swore at him and hung up.

  • Not myself but my late Grandfather-in Law became a big victim of Nigerian Scammers, despite numerous pleads from family members including myself. Constantly giving them money in the promise of larger amounts of money that “they owed him” will make it out of Africa. It was sad to see. especially in his old age

  • Yes, sort of. An eBay scammer. Went to buy a second-hand mobile phone from a guy in Perth. Nobody had left feedback, so I assumed he was a new guy looking to get rid of some stuff he’d accumulated. Paid him the money (Direct Deposit, as I didn’t have a PayPal at the time) and got nothing in return.

    So shortly after, I set up a PayPal and only pay through that. Lesson learned.

    But other more scam-sorts of scams? Nope. But my father tells a story, told to him by a cop (Dad’s a part of the neighbourhood watch group) of a little old lady who told the cop she got an email from someone wanting to give her $1,000,000. The cop said “ah ha, classic scam. Don’t fall for it” and the lady agreed and went home. Came back next month, and was broke. Another email had come through for FIVE million dollars, and she jumped on it. Why? Five million was bigger than one million, duh!

    • From the stories I’ve heard though, Paypal rarely help in those cases anyway. I’ve read some real horror stories on the internet, and heard some directly from friends. Google “Paypal smashed violin” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

      • I recently had two unauthorized purchases made from my PayPal account.
        While PayPal weren’t particular verbose in their level of communication, they did resolve the issue in a timely manner and I received a full refund.

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