HonorSociety.org Email Scam Protection Tip #7: The Email Requests You Send Money
This is from the Honor Society published book called "How to Avoid the Top E-mail Scams" by Mike Moradian, written to help protect our member and student community from common online scams. To learn more about the book or to purchase a copy, click here.
Tip #7: The Email Requests You Send Money
Why on earth would any company require you to send them money before they give you something in return? Sure, memberships require money and so do contests. But you provide that money, every single time, on a website, through an encrypted portal that was intended for it. Never, ever will a company request that you expose your credit card information in an email. Companies are smart, and they know the risk they put you at if they require a credit card expiration date in any ole’ email.
Don’t Forget Fyre Festival
Fyre Festival became a worldwide sensation in 2017 when this big, outlandish, and luxury-style music festival never happened. That’s right – people showed up to this deserted island in the Bahamas, only to discover no stages, no tents, no running water, no nothing. They had been promised everything from private cabanas by the beach while famous artists played in the distance, to seafood, fruit, and drinks hand-delivered to their tents.
In 2019, both Netflix and Hulu put out documentaries that covered this disastrous meltdown, detailing how the scammer behind the madness, Billy McFarland, was able to pull it off (well, until he went to jail). As things started to get dire, he had the Fyre Festival account send out emails to those that had already bought tickets. The email asked everyone to deposit $300 into their Fyre Festival account before arriving to the festival.
This should have had a lot more people shaking their heads. Why on earth would a festival need everyone to front $300? Well, it was because of the massive bankruptcy happening behind closed doors. They needed that money to simply make it to the next step that never happened. The bottom line is no company should ever ask you for money, period.
Money Funnel Attempts
Smarter phishers won’t ask for money outright, but they will at some point in their phishing funnel. Here are the different points in which you can be asked to send money:
- The Initial Contact Email: This one is the most aggressive and the most obvious. If an email asks you to outright send money right away, that should be a massive red flag that anyone can spot. Why would any legitimate company ask for your personal credit card information in an email, much less ask for any money at all? As we mentioned, smart phishers know to wait for their prey.
- The First Page of the Virus Link: In some cases, the email will ask you to click on a link to arrive at your winnings. If you click the link and end up at the landing page, to finally receive your winnings, you might be asked to input your personal contact information. This is the most common way for phishers to casually ask for your credit card information. It seems more normal, too, to be entering it on a site as opposed to inside an email.
- Follow Up Correspondence: Maybe this phisher allows you to “claim your prize” without asking for any money. You click the link, insert your name, and wait. At this point, they may send another email claiming you can’t secure your winnings until you enter in a legitimate credit card. This is one other popular way to get you to “without thinking” give over that information.
This is why it’s so important to never go into auto pilot mode when going through your emails in the morning. We are so used to inputting card info on sites like Amazon.com, etc. that it can seem like just another normal day if you’re doing it for an email you glance over at 7AM. Plus, for people with automatic password filling software on their computer that “remembers your password” and credit card information for you, be extra careful to ensure it doesn’t infill your information without you even realizing it.
Don’t let autopilot take over when it comes to your personal finances. That is, after all, what these phishers want more than anything – your money.
For more on how to protect yourself online, read tips from our published book below:
Intro: How to Avoid the Top E-mail Scams
Tip #1: Look for the Display Name
Tip #2: Do Not Click the Links
Tip #3: Scan for Spelling Errors
Tip #4: Look for Personal Information Requests
Tip #5: The Offer is Unrealistic
Tip #6: You Never Initiated the E-mail
Tip #7: The Email Requests You Send Money
Tip #8: The Message Contains Some Kind of Threat
Tip #9: The Email Claims to be From a Bank or Government Agency
Tip #10: Your Gut Tells You Something is Wrong
Extra Credit #1: Tips for Staying on Top of Phishers
Extra Credit #2: Knowing When It's a Real Email: 5 Tips