If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.   Stick by this rule and you’ll avoid a lot of scams straight away!

Computer Scammers prey on the vulnerable and coerce or scare you into giving them something.   Be it a like on Facebook, or handing over personal details, they’ll use this, often in quite extraordinary ways, to make money.

Scams date back well before computers were invented though.   Have you ever received an email from a Nigerian Prince offering a substantial reward if you can assist him with moving his wealth out of the country.   This scam dates back to the 18th century.  Back then, businessmen were contacted by an individual who was attempting to smuggle a wealthy family member out of a Spanish prison.   If the businessman were able to provide a bride for the Spanish guards, then there would be untold rewards from the escapee!!

Today, many people use Facebook to keep updated or to stay in contact with friends.   You may not have realized it, but Facebook is home to many scammers.   Ever seen a post from an orphaned child who needs over 10,000 likes to get the medical treatment he needs?     How about a picture of someone with a disability who doesn’t think she’s beautiful?   Maybe a post with a strange image, where if you like, share and comment with the number “2” something magical will happen to the image?   Or, possibly a contest to win a new car if you like and share the post?   These are all (most of the time) scams and they’re using your Likes, Shares and Comments to extort money.

But how does it work?  Surely a simple ‘like’ can’t cause any harm?

The technique is called “Like Farming”.   The scammer is attempting to get as many likes, shares and comments as possible as this gives authority to the page they’re linking to.   When the page has enough fans, the scammer will start putting adverts on the page.  If anyone clicks on the advert – they take a commission.  Even worse, they could start linking to viruses in an attempt to take control of your computer or steal your identity.    The more likes they have, the more people they can reach with this, now malicious page.

So what can you do if you’ve liked something which you now think could be a scam?   Well, if you go to your Facebook Profile, there’s a “More” link near the top.   Click this and then click “Likes”.   This will show you all of the pages you’ve ever liked on Facebook and gives you the opportunity to “unlike” a page.

Email is also a popular target for scammers as it’s always been easy to fake something to make it look legitimate.    Maybe you’ve received an email from the bank saying that you’re overdrawn and need to contact them immediately using the link provided?   The address might say it’s from the bank, and it may look authentic with the right logo etc, so how can you tell if it’s a scam.    Firstly, you can contact them directly – not using the link they’ve provided.   This way you know you’re speaking to the bank and not someone pretending to be them.

Now time to get a little technical and explain how to spot dangerous links.   First some background on website names.

You’re probably familiar with website names such as mine:


So this consists of three sections, www, .scotiasystems and .com.

The last section is controlled and can be only one of several options, such as .com, .ca, .co.uk, .biz etc.

The second to last section is the domain – in my case “ScotiaSystems” which is my business name.

And the first bit can be anything I want it to be.   So for example I can have:



You get the idea!

So how do scammers use this against you?   Well, say they register the name “1.com”.   Seems pretty safe right?    Well, then they can put a link in an email to :


Now it looks like if you click on the link you’ll be taken to the official ScotiaBank website!   However you’ll actually be taken to the 1.com website which will be dressed up to look like ScotiaBank and could potentially steal your login details.

If you’re using a computer, simply hover the mouse over the link and it’ll give you the full link.   Ignore anything after the “/”, so in this example you’re looking for what comes before the first slash:


Cunning Eh?   Well now you know this tip, you can check out any link to see if it seems legitimate.    Of course if you’re still unsure then the safest approach is still to contact the bank directly.

Until next time – safe surfing!