Seaman sending Morse code signalsInternet Fraud

Fraud is a criminal offense in most countries, however, due to the nature of the internet, internet fraud seldom results in prosecution. Fraud is deception which has the intention of causing another person to lose money. Often this loss is very large. Prior to the emergence of the internet, fraudulant activity across international boundaries had the disadvantage of costing the fraudster time and money in printing, addressing and mailing letters. In recent times, the most common form of fraud is through the internet as it is quick, relatively free to communicate and difficult to stop.

Some common examples of Internet fraud include:-

Identity theft

This is where someone pretends to be someone else and typically opens bank accounts, obtains loans in the false name or withdraws money from the persons bank account. This is typically completed by fooling someone into providing personal information such as date of birth, full name and address and other information that only the victim knows. They use this information to convince organisations that they are that person. Because online trading isn’t face-to-face, it’s easy for someone to hide behind a stolen identity and make fraudulent purchases or requests.


Phishing is the practice of sending emails pretending to be from reputable companies in order to trick individuals into revealing personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, online. Any email or website that requests private information such as credit card numbers, account numbers or passwords may be an attempt at ‘phishing’. Any information you send to a phisher may be used unlawfully. Even if the request looks genuine, it is still sensible to make independent checks on its validity. For example, if you receive an email from a bank or a website such as Paypal asking to confirm an account number, you should not click any links in the email, but instead either Ring the bank to confirm the request or type the address in your web browser.  and don’t use any phone numbers included in the email – they could be fake.

Email messages

Some email messages try to convince the receiver that they have won a large amount of money in a lottery, have been selected to assist in transferring a large amount of money out of an often third world country or to purchase goods at a discounted price. Users then enter credit card or bank details which are then used to make purchases or withdrawals. One of the most well known scams of this type was the “Nigerian letter scam” in which letters originating from Nigeria, offered people a share in a large amount of money in return for a bank account to transfer the money into. According to the message, this money was left unclaimed in the bank account of a person who died in a plane crash, through illness or during conflict of one kind or another. This sum of money does not exist. Recipients who initiate a dialogue with the scammer by replying to this message eventually were asked for advance fees required to allow the deal to proceed. They may also become the victims of identity theft. Example of A Nigerian Scam letter.

View the following video on internet fraud

Interpersonal issues

Internet dating sites have changes the way people form relationships. They provide an opportunity to present a particular version of themselves which may be somewhat close to reality or not at all. Profiles may present someone who has many aspects in common within a profile, however, during a face to face meeting, occurs, they may find that they have very little or no attraction at all.

Communication from people with an opinion on a topic can often appear to be from a legitimate professional in the field, but could be simply an amateur with very little real knowledge of the topic. The non face to face world of the internet can make these peoples views appear to be as forceful and legitimate as professional. This scenario does not happen in a face to face meeting.

Misinterpreting of text messages via email is common and easy to do. A written message does not provide feedback such as body language, tone of voice or volume.

Communicating with someone with a disability on the internet is often much easier than in a face to face setting. For example, many people have difficulty communicating with a person with hearing loss. By communicating over the internet, it may not even be apparent that the other person has this loss of hearing.