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Beware of Halloween-themed online scams as scammers adapt to exploit trends

They take your order and then either delay delivery until after Halloween or cancel it without a word.

Image: © PRENSA SENADO/AFP Handout
Image: © PRENSA SENADO/AFP Handout

As with witching day descends, shopper should seek to protect themselves by verifying companies, using secure websites, and securing event tickets in advance. In particular, consumers need to be on the lookout for various scams, from Halloween-themed deceptions to phishing attacks and cryptojacking.

As many people shop for costumes and plan spooky events there has been a corresponding rise inventive Halloween-themed online scams, as scammers constantly adapt to exploit the latest trends. Many of these are targeted at younger people.

The company Invezz.com have contacted Digital Journal with advice about the leading Halloween scams of concern. In looking at these, the following are of interest:

The Deceptive Shipping Scam

Leading up to October 31st, many shopping sites are abuzz with Halloween-themed stores offering spooky merchandise. While many of these retailers are genuine, some play a sinister trick. They take your order and then either delay delivery until after Halloween or cancel it without a word.

How to protect yourself:

  • Investigate the Company: Conduct a thorough investigation before placing an order with a seasonal store. Look for the company’s physical address and phone number. This information can be a valuable lifeline if something goes wrong.
  • Review Return and Refund Policies: Understand the store’s return and refund policies. This can be crucial in case the Halloween delight you ordered turns out to be a fright.

The Illusive Fraudulent Offer

In this scheme, deceptive companies advertise Halloween products at low prices. The only thing truly scary is that the company itself is a ghost. Once you fall for the bait and make a purchase, your money vanishes into thin air.

Spooky pumpkin or Jack-o’-lantern. Image by Toby Ord – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5

How to protect yourself:

  • Authenticate the Company: Always verify a company’s authenticity before making a purchase. Be sceptical of deals that seem too good to be true.
  • Secure Website Inspection: Look for signs of website security, such as the padlock symbol in the browser’s address bar and the “https” in the URL. Avoid sites that lack these security measures.

The Haunting Fake Ticket Scam

Here scammers sell counterfeit tickets to unsuspecting revellers right before the event. There’s no treat here; it’s a cruel trick. The tickets are nothing more than illusions.

How to protect yourself:

  • Purchase in Advance: Secure your Halloween tickets well in advance. Waiting until the last minute can leave you vulnerable to ticket tricksters.
  • Direct Contact: Reach out directly to the event organizers or the venue to confirm the legitimacy of your ticket source. Don’t rely solely on third-party sellers.

The Phantom Bogus Purchase Scam

In this ghostly scenario, scammers employ deceit to convince you that you’ve placed an order you never made. Their objective? To pry personal information from you, which they can then use to haunt your financial well-being.

How to protect yourself:

  • Beware Unsolicited Contacts: If you receive emails or phone calls regarding a purchase you didn’t make, refrain from engaging with the sender or caller. Instead, delete the emails and block any further contact attempts.
  • Secure Your Personal Information: Guard your personal data zealously. Sharing it with unknown or unverified sources can open the door to identity theft and financial woes.

Unleashing the Cryptocurrency Ghouls

In a Halloween-themed twist, cybercriminals may entice victims to click on a malicious link, thinking it’s related to the holiday. This manoeuvre allows these digital infiltrators to exploit vulnerabilities in their devices, surreptitiously implanting cryptojacking software. This covert software quietly operates in the device’s background, much like hidden processes in a computer system, engaging in cryptocurrency mining or siphoning funds from cryptocurrency wallets.

How to protect yourself:

  • Stay Cautious of Emails: Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown or suspicious emails, as these may lead to cryptojacking.
  • Practice Safe Browsing: Be cautious when visiting unfamiliar websites, and avoid downloading files or software from untrusted sources.
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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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