The Internet is a complicated place – for every positive thing that happens there, like a kid in a less-developed country getting funding for medical treatment or more visibility on governments doing bad stuff, there is a lot of negative. Most people know about standard 419 fraud; eg “Hi, I am the [wife/daughter/son] of [insert name of recently deposed dictator here]. I have $X million and would like to give you some if you help me move it”, OR the one hundred variations on this theme.
We have spent a decade working hard to keep the bad guys off Just Landed and our users safe. In ten years, we have probably blocked somewhere between 250,000 to 500,000 fraud attempts (we never tracked this historically, but this is an honest estimate). We have also let a few through in that time and only got to know after someone else worked out it was fraud.-
Why does this happen?:
- Getting an email address is easy and the people that provide them do not react to reports of crime or have any framework for people like us to report it. Google has made it tougher to register recently, but no-one else has (Yahoo and Microsoft; outlook, live or hotmail) are now the biggest faves for scammers.
- If someone steals something of $100 value from a shop or person, they will get a slap on the wrist or the wrist cut off; depends on the country where the criminal gets caught. At that level of theft, it is almost never the case any police force will investigate an online fraud. In most cases, they won’t deploy any effort unless more than $5,000 has been stolen.
- Much of the fraud we see is being directed at ‘poorer’ people. The bait is often a ‘great job’ (which pays ‘too’ much) or a ‘good value rental’ (which should look too good to be true). Sometimes, it can be a job where you don’t need to do much work, receive some payments and forward them on. If it looks too good to be true, it probably isn’t – use common-sense.
- In a world where each honest tax-paying individual is being forced to accept constant and increased surveillance (for whatever excuse: terrorism, fraud, tax-evasion, etc), it also seems like the banking system cannot be internationally forced to make sure that the people cannot run off with stolen money? Why? Most of the scams are simple: victim transfers money, it disappears. Sometimes it goes via a money transfer service, sometimes to a real bank account (more often now as the bad guys worked out people don’t like using it – see https://blog.justlanded.com/expat-advice/dont-send-money-by-western-union/ for why). The banking system doesn’t help, the police in most countries don’t help and millions are defrauded every month.
Each crime is small, the total is massive.
Each victim doesn’t get a voice.
Eight years ago, we got a visit from the police with an order to seize all computers from the office. The visit was caused from an offense which has occurred 180 days before in another country and was ordered by a judge, based on an intra-EU request. The officers (fortunately) did understand the situation and took no action – the servers were not in the office in any case. We never got an apology or any follow up.
In the last ten years, we have provided detailed information to police forces in 22 different countries on 86 different occasions where we believed there was enough to follow up. We only received 4 responses that something would happen and zero responses in terms of something actually happened.
We will continue to do our best to keep fraud off Just Landed.
If you care, this type of crime causes a lot of pain for young unemployed people and is easy to stop – without destroying personal freedom. The simple test is the following: how do you expect to stop terrorist activity in the banking system if you can’t control obvious simple fraud where you get help from private companies? Talk, discuss, bang on the head of your elected representatives. In a quiet moment, SHOUT, when you realise the EU is imposing a stupid rule on websites about cookies which no-one likes/understands/needs while thousands of people get ripped off. It’s wrong. But no-one cares?