5 cybersecurity scams to watch for in 2024

Stay informed on the latest trends in financial fraud — so that you can easily detect and protect yourself from bad actors.

It’s easy to think you’ll never fall for a financial scam, but technological advancements are leading to increasingly sophisticated and convincing schemes. That’s why it’s critical to know how to protect yourself — and your assets — from these new threats.

Here are five emerging cybersecurity scams to know about and safeguard against in 2024. If you’re concerned about your online security or want help protecting yourself from fraudulent activity, contact us.

Scam #1: Pig butchering

“Pig butchering” is a cryptocurrency investment scam that gets its namesake from the practice of fattening a pig before slaughter.1

In this scheme, the victim is the “pig” and the bad actor “fatten ups” the victim by first establishing a relationship (often over text message) that begins with a random interaction, such as a wrong number contact. Over time, the bad actors create rapport with the victim to establish trust. Eventually, they share information about a highly profitable investment opportunity, usually in cryptocurrency, with the goal of defrauding the victim.

In the scheme, the bad actor requests the victim to send funds to either a Bitcoin wallet or to a third-party account. Unbeknownst to the victim, the investment is a sham and the funds are transferred to the scammer. In some scenarios, the scammer will attempt to prove their legitimacy by sending screen shots of the supposed high-performing investment and may even release “returns” to the victim to convince them to invest more. Eventually, all communication from the scammer will stop, leaving the victim with a significant loss.

Scam #2: Financial institution impersonation

Messages from financial institutions are often implicitly trusted by consumers — a fact that fraudsters are aware of and wrongly capitalize on.

In fact, bank impersonations regarding fictitious fraudulent account activity and alerts related to alleged purchases were among the most reported text messaging scams in 2022, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).2

In one example of this scheme, a scammer sends a text message or email that’s designed to look like it’s from the victim’s bank. The message will ask the victim to verify a non-existing large transaction, and if they do, they are connected to a fake bank representative. The representative may then recommend the victim move their funds to a “secure” account that they control. There have also been reports of scammers impersonating a financial institution’s anti-fraud team to gain access to financial assets.

Scam #3: AI-fueled fraud

The rapid and recent advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) is helping scammers make fraud appear more legitimate than ever before.3 Most notable among these AI-aided tactics are attempts to impersonate the voice or likeness of someone else to gain access to a person’s financial assets.

Specifically, AI-fueled voice cloning — also known as audio deepfake or voice phishing — is making it increasingly difficult to detect whether a caller is real or technologically manipulated. AI is similarly being used to create fake images and videos that are then shared digitally to convince people to transfer money.

During this scheme, the victim may receive a phone call from an individual who identifies themselves as — and sounds exactly like — a family member who is in distress. The caller requests the victim send them funds urgently due to an emergency, such as a hospitalization, but any funds transferred will be lost to the scammer.

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Scam #4: Recruitment fraud

Job seekers may need to apply extra discretion when reviewing online job postings. According to the FTC, scammers are increasingly posing as recruiters on social media platforms to trick victims into giving them money or their personal information under the guise of a new employment opportunity.

If you’re looking for a new job, be wary of any interactions with a “recruiter” who asks for personal information or requests you pay fees associated with a job, such as training, equipment or travel for interviews. If a job offer raises red flags or sounds too good to be true, make sure to verify the position by researching the company and contacting them directly.

Scam #5 Secondary scams

Falling for a financial scam can be distressing, which is why many victims try to move on from it quickly. Secondary scammers understand that and try to exploit this vulnerability.

After a person has been scammed, fraudsters, oftentimes, the same fraudster, will seek to capitalize on their susceptibility by posing as a trusted individual or organization, such as a lawyer, law enforcement officer or government official and offer to help the victim recover lost funds. This scam involves the bad actor asking the victim for an upfront payment, fee or tax payment to help untangle the effects of the initial scam.

How to protect yourself

While each of these scams are different, many fraudsters use similar tactics to entrap their victims. As such, there are steps you can take to protect yourself:

Be wary of unsolicited messages

When it comes to protecting your online information, be mindful of any unsolicited financial advice or requests to move your money or investments. Similarly, view any text message from an unknown number cautiously, even if it appears to come from your financial institution, as phone numbers can easily be spoofed. Be wary of text messages and emails that include a link or is soliciting a reply or response as this may be an attempt to get you to click on a malicious link.

Resist claims of urgency and threats

A consistent red flag of most fraud attempts is that the victim will feel pressured to act immediately or suffer negative repercussions if they do not. For example, a bad actor may send one of the following messages to coerce their victim:

  • “Invest in this sure-fire system to safeguard your accounts from fraud now.”
  • “You only have 20 minutes to claim this personalized investment opportunity.”
  • “Contact us in the next 10 minutes, or your account will be frozen.”

Closely monitor your financial accounts

Review your accounts regularly to ensure there is no unexpected activity. To protect yourself and your online information, take the following actions with your financial accounts:

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