The Top 10 Scams for 2006 — and 2007

What were the Top 10 scams for 2006 — and what are the biggest scam trends going to be in 2007? Internet ScamBusters #211

Today we have a Special Issue for you: we’ll take a look at how we did predicting the Top 10 Worst Scams of 2006, and we’ll make some new predictions for what will be the top scam trends for 2007.

2006 was a very big year for Internet scams, and just about every expert agrees that 2007 will be even bigger.

We believe it’s very important to understand these growing scam trends — so you can better protect yourself. As you’ve heard us say many times, being smart is NOT enough to protect yourself from Internet scams. It’s often important to know about these threats in advance — and that’s why we publish ScamBusters as a public service.

Let’s get started…

The Top 10 Scams for 2006 — and 2007

Each year we find it more and more difficult to choose the top 10 scams for the past year — because there is so much to choose from. 😉 Nonetheless, we’ll again give it our best shot.

We’ll first see how well we did last January when we predicted the 10 worst scam trends for 2006, and then we’ll again gaze into our scambusting “crystal ball” and predict the biggest scam trends you need to watch out for in 2007.

You can see predictions for the Top 10 scam trends of 2006 here.

So, how did we do? Here’s our (unscientific) ranking of the Top 10 Scams for 2006 — with the help of hindsight:

10. Pump and dump scams. (Not on Top 10 prediction list.) For more info on pump and dump scams, see the second item on this page about the Social Security Administration scam alert.

9. Advanced fees paid for guaranteed loans or credit cards. (Predicted as #7)

8. Online dating scams. (Not on Top 10 prediction list.)

7. New, more creative variants of the overpayment scam, including job postings. (Predicted as #9)

6. New variants of the Nigerian scam. (Predicted as #6)

5. New spyware threats. (Predicted as #4)

4. Even more dangerous viruses, worms, and trojans. (Predicted as #3)

3. More lottery and foreign lottery scams. (Predicted as #5)

2. Even more sophisticated phishing scams. (Predicted as #2)

1. More identity theft problems. (Predicted as #1)

We’re actually quite surprised — we didn’t expect our predictions to be as accurate as they turned out to be. (That’s because it’s always dangerous to make predictions, since your chance of being wrong is so high. 😉

Anyway, as you can see we did do some rearranging of the list. Two scams we predicted didn’t make the list: #10 – More personal and targeted attacks, and #8 – A new category of scams.

Although there certainly were more personal and targeted attacks in 2006, there weren’t enough to make the Top 10 list.

And although a new scam category did emerge — ransomware — again, it wasn’t a serious enough threat in 2006 to be included on our Top 10 list.

We were lucky about our optimism about natural disaster scams (since there were no major hurricanes, etc. in the US in 2006, and it seems that natural disaster Internet scams are focused on US disasters).

Two scams made the Top 10 List for 2006 that we didn’t predict: online dating scams and pump and dump scams. Both of these, of course, have been around for years. However, the volume seems to be up quite dramatically.

We heard almost as many online dating scam complaints this year as we did overpayment scams! And the Russian spammers using 70,000 infected PCs to send out pump and dump emails is partly responsible for these scams being included on the Top 10 list.

So, that wraps up 2006. Predictions for the Top 10 Scams of 2007

Now, let’s again take out our scambusting “crystal ball” and make our predictions for 2007.

Before we get to the Top 10 List though, the biggest new trend we predict for 2007 is that we expect to see more and more of the Internet-based scams go offline in 2007.

We started seeing this trend grow during the second half of 2006. For example, phishing scammers started using phones to steal money and commit identity theft.

Further, we expect scammers to use snail mail, phones, and even faxes for Nigerian scams, lottery scams, overpayment and other scams in 2007. (Nigerian scams, of course, started offline, but we saw very few offline versions over the past few years until the past couple of months.)

We also expect that spyware, viruses, worms and Trojans will be spread more frequently using CDs and DVDs sent via snail mail. These infected disks will include free games and other enticements that allow scammers to take over victims’ computers.

OK, now for this year’s list… Predictions for the 10 Biggest Internet Scam Trends in 2007:

10. Work-at-home scams. These scams just miss being on our Top 10 list each year — however, we believe work-at-home scams will grow more than other categories in 2007.

9. Online dating scams. We anticipate these scams will grow even more in 2007.

8. New category of scams. Just like phishing emerged as a new and very important category of scams a few years ago, we predict that a similar new category of scams will emerge in 2007. Again, we don’t know what it will be yet, but we predict there will be one. Unfortunately, scammers are just too cunning to go for three years in a row without a new, major category of scams.

7. Overpayment scams, including job postings.

6. Spyware threats.

5. Nigerian scams.

4. Viruses, worms, and trojans.

3. Lottery scams.

2. Phishing scams.

1. Identity theft scams.

Although we removed pump and dump scams and advanced fees paid for guaranteed loans or credit cards, we still expect these to grow — however, we anticipate other scams will be an even bigger problem.

We want you to know about all of these scam trends so you can protect yourself. And each week in ScamBusters, we’ll continue to keep you up-to-date. Our mission is to help you understand the scam trends so you can best protect yourself and stay safe in 2007.

Time to wrap up for today. We wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!