“My Dear, a fortune is awaiting you … but it’s locked in an overseas account …”
Sound familiar? You likely have multiple versions of this email in your spam folder. As tempting as it is to think of easy money, the reality is that the Nigerian Prince is a scammer targeting you for money or personal information so they can steal your identity. Unfortunately, internet crimes—even ones with implausible, too-good-to-be-true stories like this—often work. In 2021, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported $6.9 billion in losses to cybercriminals.
Twingate compiled a list of nine common cybercrime characters encountered in criminal schemes through analysis of news reports and cybercrime statistics from the FBI, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, and other sources.
Cyberscammers continually adapt their schemes to evade law enforcement, with the latest scams leveraging “smishing” techniques—phishing for information through SMS/text messaging. In September 2022, RoboKiller estimated that the sheer volume of robotexts sent out is equivalent to every person in the U.S. receiving an average of 57 per day.
Another popular scam is the Business Email Compromise, in which criminals pretend they’re sending an email from a company account in order to fool an employee into thinking they’re colleagues. The victim then unwittingly transfers company funds to the criminal.
If you’ve been the victim of a cyberscam, report it to IC3. They’ll share the information with the proper authorities and alert the public. Read on to learn more about frequently encountered cybercrime personas.