Cyber crime relies on increasingly sophisticated versions of malware, hacking methods, botnets and other technologies. But it also exploits tactics refined by criminals who pre-dated the internet by decades. Trickery, coercion and the human tendency to trust have always been among the most effective tools in crime, and cyber criminals know how to use them.
Online confidence scams often depend on what is known as “social engineering.” They exploit human fallibility and technology to prompt a targeted individual to act in a way that results in theft of money or information. These scams may also leverage a threat to make stolen, sensitive information public.
Using data harvested from social media sites, professional profiles, blogs, websites or local news reports — often over weeks or even months — cyber criminals can gain a nuanced understanding of users and often their families as well.