hand-on-keyboard-8301-mEven the most sophisticated spam filters cannot keep out the wave of scam emails flooding inboxes world wide, and from all accounts, business for these cyber thieves is booming. According to the 2012 Internet Crime Report conducted by the FBI, there has been an 8.3 percent rise in cybercrime from the prior year. This works out to 290,000 incidents worth $525 million in financial losses to victims. The average take was $4,573.

We’re not talking cheesy requests from your “secret admirer” in Nigeria. These are some cunning, well-crafted attempts to get you to fork over your personal information. The following is a list of 8 dangerous emails containing the most sophisticated phishing scams circulating right now:


1. Failed Delivery Scam

Scammers send phishing messages that appear to be from UPS or FedEx notifying you that a package could not be delivered. You are then prompted to open an attachment that came with the email so that you can get everything sorted out. This attachment typically is loaded with malware or viruses that sift through your files and steal any personal information it can find.

2. Account Update Scams

You may receive “reminders” to update your personal information with your bank or your Paypal account. If you click the link provided, you will be taken to a very official looking web page in which you will be asked to provide some personal information. This information is then used to hack your accounts.

3. Charity Scams

Charity email scams typically reference some recent, well-known disaster and ask that you donate a small amount to a charity to help those who were affected by the tragedy. Ironically, the email itself may actually “warn” you to beware of online scammers! Typically, there will be a link to an official looking web page where you can make an online donation.

4. The Stranded Traveler Scam

Watch out for emails from “friends” claiming that they were robbed while traveling abroad and that they need money immediately.

5. Urgent Messages From a Bank or Government Agency

In one clever scam, hackers sent an email under the “strict security standards” of HSBC bank and requested that recipients report scam emails to the bank’s website. The link itself contained dangerous malware. Another popular scam involves the IRS usually claiming that you owe money.

6. The Cellular Carrier Email Scam

Scammers send emails directing people to a convincing clone website of their cellular carrier. They are then asked to enter their passwords and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, in order to receive credits, discounts, or prizes. The data is then used to hack into the victim’s account.

7. The Fake Purchase Scam

Scammers send emails asking recipients to confirm purchases they never made, such as items on eBay or airline tickets. They are then directed to an official looking web form to enter their personal information.

8. The Old Friend Email Scam

Be on the lookout for emails from “old friends” that may actually come from scammers who have hacked old and unused email accounts. If your friend asks you to click on a link or download anything, be suspicious.

In short, email scammers are getting more and more sophisticated at their trade. In order to protect yourself make sure you only click links and download items from trusted sources, and if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.