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Report reveals how cybercriminals trick their victims

Nearly half of the 800 African survey participants on how cybercriminals trick their victims lost thousands of dollars and had their personal information compromised as a result of falling for an internet scam at least once. One of the major conclusions of the recently published KnowBe4 2023 Online Scams and Victims in Africa Report is this disturbing statistic.

Eight African nations, including South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Mauritius, and Botswana, with a total of 800 respondents, provided the data for the report. The survey claims that 53% of the respondents who became victims believed the offer was genuine since the website appeared to be authentic, while approximately 48% of the scams involved money.

Key findings: Report reveals how cybercriminals trick their victims

  • 40% of the respondents from eight countries had been scammed online
  • Distraction and multi-tasking made 43% of the victims fall for an online scam
  • Financial scams affected nearly 48% of respondents

These figures demonstrate the evolution of online fraud, according to Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy & Evangelist at KnowBe4 AFRICA. The fact that 43% of the victims were multitasking and preoccupied when they fell for the scam raises concerns since it shows how simple it is for someone to make a mistake when they are not paying attention. People’s emotional moods can have an impact on their cognition, awareness, and decision-making, making them more susceptible to online fraud, according to Collard.

The most frequent form of internet fraud, involving 50% of respondents, was financial scams. bogus investments (30%), cryptocurrency and NFTs (29%), brand impersonation (28%), information theft (24%), online shopping (21%), and bogus job offers (21%) were other common scams.

The traditional Nigerian scam (17%), impersonating a family member or friend (18%), impersonating a law enforcement official (7%), tax fraud (6%), holiday fraud (9%), romance fraud (13%), and lottery fraud (15%) were among the less common but still important frauds.

In 24% of the cases, email was the favored method for scammers to make contact. With 19%, social media was second only to WhatsApp (10%) and other messaging apps like Telegram (8%). Email predominated in South Africa (28%), while social media was the most popular venue for frauds in Nigeria (32%). Scammers frequently persuaded their victims through social engineering strategies, such as building rapport or trust by making websites appear trustworthy, delivering messages that touched on emotions, or leveraging social media.

To persuade their victims, scammers frequently used social engineering strategies, such as developing rapport or trust by making websites appear legitimate, delivering messages that touched on emotions, utilizing social media profiles that were genuine, and avoiding spelling or grammar errors.

According to Collard, the numbers show a highly developed and skilled network of con artists who employ cutting-edge technology to trick individuals into making expensive mistakes. 30% of the losers lost between $100 and $1,000, 40% between $100, and 9% lost more than $1,000.

The study also revealed that many victims of scams suffered grave psychological effects. Nearly 50% experienced a severe or moderate impact, while 23% claimed it had little to no impact on them. The findings show how simple it is for victims to place the responsibility on themselves when, in truth, they were duped by crafty con artists. According to the survey, many victims felt unfavorable emotions like shame (25%), rage (40%), naivete (40%), loss of trust (36%), and embarrassment (39%). Others reported feeling traumatized (20%), helpless and defenseless (25%), nervous (16%), and guilty and afraid (15%).

It is possible that the emotional cost of falling for an internet fraud is worse than the financial loss. The majority of victims did not experience any problems or recovered within a few days to a few weeks. For 24% of victims, it took them several months to recover, and 10% said it took them more than a year. However, the majority (22%) and 11% of respondents stated it took them more than a year to recover from the psychological effects of the hoax.

According to Collard, “The report demonstrates how susceptible people are to online scams and the psychological harm they produce.” Despite the fact that the respondents were aware of scams and recognized the risks, many still reported not feeling ready, which emphasizes the necessity for ongoing training that keeps individuals always aware of frauds and the harm they pose to themselves and their organizations.

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