The top online scams affecting Millenials – and how to avoid them!

Cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated every year - here are the current most frequent scams affecting millennials!

computer and phone in padlock and chains

Tuesday, 15 October, 2019

Millennials aren’t as savvy as you think!

An American Federal Trade Commission study surprisingly found that millennials may be more susceptible to online scams than older people! Their research found that: “40 percent of adults age 20-29 who have reported fraud ended up losing money in a fraud case”.

The good news though is that criminals are getting lazier! The trend seems to be that the top scams we see are just updated versions of ‘classic scams’. This helps us to recognise dodgy deals or emails: so here’s a heads up on the top scams affecting millennials:

Phishing evolution.

“Recently, phishing has been weaponized to varying degrees of sophistication with a key technique: impersonation.”

- The Anti-Phishing Working Group

The Anti-Phishing Working Group reports that nearly 100,000 attempts of phishing are reported worldwide each month.

Phishing is the act of using false emails mimicking those of existing contacts but with a letter or digit changed. Cybercriminals are now increasingly mimicking app or business email contacts to trick you! So always carefully check the email address of the sender if a link is attached to an email.

Nigerian letter 2.0

Another use of impersonation with a tried and tested scam is the Nigerian Prince ‘update’. However scammers have moved on from pretending to be a distant royal relative! This new method has scammers pretending to be services like PayPal or your bank asking for money to cover fees etc…

So again, always carefully check the email address of the sender!

Ticket sales fraud.

A big scam affecting younger people is dodgy second-hand or surplus tickets for events. Over 10% of millennials now say they have fallen victim to ticket scams!

Sometimes you have to take a risk by buying from a facebook event commenter. However as a general rule it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

  • So always try to buy from official outlets only.
  • Or if you’re after a ticket for something sold out, use established sites like StubHub or TicketSwap.

Influencer scams.

So here the account / company is ‘authentic’. But the lesson here is that you should also always check the reputation of someone who is asking for money from you online. Do they have experience? Are they qualified to sell the advertised product?

Scam disasters like Fyre Island Festival are happening more than you think. There are even scamming Influencers! In 2019 ‘Influencer’ Caroline Calloway was caught ripping people off for events that didn’t deliver as promised.

So always remember to do your research – unless you want to end up in a Netflix documentary!

Fake Ransomware.

It’s rare that hackers use Ransomware on individuals but there are now scammers using fake Ransomware threats as blackmail. A classic example is an email threatening the release of ‘personal’ pictures or messages taken from your computer ‘stolen with ransomware’. The kick is you were never even infected!

Usually hackers will have gotten one of your passwords from a leaked list of passwords from a large data breach. You will often hear about companies like Adobe reporting a number of their accounts have been compromised in this way. The hackers will tell you an old password they have as a form of ‘proof’ that they have hacked you.

To avoid falling victim to this remember:

  • Keep varied passwords for your accounts.
  • Use a ‘password generator’ and change them up every now and then.
  • And of course – avoid opening those threatening emails in your spam box.

Cryptocurrency ‘pump and dump’.

Cybercriminals are banding together to artificially inflate the price of a new cryptocurrency so that unsuspecting buyers pay a high price with actual currency. Scammers then start selling off their existing crypto, the crypto price sinks and buyers are left with what is essentially worthless ‘online monopoly money’.

A big part of this scam is the use of ‘Fake News’ or misinformation to spread the idea to invest in certain currencies. All these rumours are often traced back to small groups of scammers who have masterminded the whole inflation.

So to stay safe:

  • Always check the validity of your ‘hot tip’!
  • Make sure you actually understand what you’re buying.
  • Keep an eye on the market or tech news sites for any suspicious events!
Natalie Dunning author picture


Natalie Dunning is a freelance writer and Media Psychology researcher based in Manchester.