Con artists have existed for centuries. Their end goals may vary, but the nature of a con is simple. A con artist will attempt to and often succeed at making you believe that they are someone else. Someone you can trust with your money or private information. They do this in a multitude of ways, but they most of all rely on the natural trusting nature of people.
What was once known as con artistry has evolved into a new strategy called social engineering. As technology, has gotten smarter, thieves have had to find new and brighter ways of overcoming the security measures put in place to stop them. What used to be a padlock, now is an iris scanner, computers have complex firewalls, and there are more secure systems being built every day. But one thing hasn’t changed. There are still always people involved in the system somewhere, and by targeting these people the whole system can be compromised with ease.
So rather than try break the technology which will always get stronger and more secure, thieves have become con artists and simply attack the human side of the system. Social engineering is the practice of gathering information about a person or company and then uses that information to infiltrate that person’s life, or break into the company’s offices. Social engineering is a crucial part of any con artist’s arsenal nowadays
Points of contact
Con artists or social engineers now have a wide variety of access points to their victims, and they pick and choose which one would be the most useful or convincing. The two most common forms used by con artists are email and telephone. Though telephones have been around for a while, it is only recently that it has become easier to fake a real telephone number. Con artists can call you from a number that you recognize without needing access to the telephone line. This instills a sense of trust from the get go. With email, they can perfectly replicate any other company’s letterhead and logo, never mind faking the email address.
Con artists aim to gain your trust and they do this by playing with your emotions. They will often pretend to be an authority figure, such as customer service rep. They will gather information, which will lead you to believe them, such as important details about your life or affairs, such as the name of your spouse or your birthday.
They also sometimes must con the other way, get customer service reps to give out important info on a client. Here they will act rushed or have an emergency happening, some even fake crying or play the sound of a baby crying. They will act on your natural sympathy, and use it against you. If you find yourself in one of these situations, the best thing is to hang up or don’t reply. All reputable companies have contact details, so use them to verify any email or telephone call, because you can lose it all so fast if you are caught by a con artist.