10 Russia-Ukraine war scams hitting email, texts and social media

Feb 27, 2022, 5:00 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is nearly 6,000 miles from our border, but it’s likely already affecting you here at home.

You probably see a hit to your 401K and financial portfolio. As those go down, gas prices are going up. Tap or click here for simple ways to find the best gas prices in your area.

Whenever there’s an event of mass impact, hackers, scammers, and thieves take advantage of the situation. Here’s a list of scams we can expect to see as the Russia-Ukraine war heats up.

Note that scammers will contact you via calls, text, email, or social media. If you have anyone older in your family, they are very susceptible to falling for these scams. Share this post with them on your social media or email this post with a link.

1. Help, help, I’m stuck here

Here’s an all-too-common trope: A scammer pretends to a family member or friend, claiming to be stuck somewhere and in need of money. One of the most common examples of this is the “grandparent scam,” in which a thief impersonates an older person’s grandchild and claims to be saddled with an expensive repair bill or even stuck in jail.

In this case, you may hear from a close contact who says they are stuck in the Ukraine or Russia. Maybe they need money for a plane ticket out or claim to have lost their passport. They’ll raise the stakes, too, telling you they got robbed or all the banks are closed.

The scariest part is how easy it is to manipulate photos to back this up. A clever criminal can easily show your loved one in the Ukraine or Russia to make you believe it. Always check in with your loved one through another means of communication. For example, if they are texting, send an email or, better yet, give them a call.

2. We need your support now more than ever

In times of crisis, we turn to others for help or step up to assist. You need to be extra vigilant about donating money to GoFundMe pages or other relief efforts right now. Scammers use our kindest instincts against us to steal money through fake aid campaigns.

If you are donating money through an organization like the American Red Cross, for example, be sure you’re on the actual Red Cross site and not a cleverly-disguised phishing site. It’s easy to copy the look of a website and steal official logos. The real tip-off is the URL. Don’t rely on a link you received from someone or clicked on social media; navigate to the official website yourself.

3. But it looks and sounds so real

Today’s deepfake technology makes it easier than you’d believe in producing high-quality videos or audio clips of a public figure saying or doing something that never happened in real life.

As you encounter videos of Putin and other political figures on social media or YouTube, keep your guard up. If the video is designed to make you angry or act in some way, it very well may be a disinformation campaign at work.

Remember, disinformation videos are designed to look natural. It’s not uncommon for these videos to use CGI technology and paid actors.

4. I have money, lots of money

This one is a twist on the old Nigerian prince scams. Someone with a lot of money needs to move that money to leave the country — but they can’t do it without your help. Of course, you’ll need to pay transfer fees. If you receive such a message, report it as spam and delete it.

Scam texts aren’t just annoying. They’re one more way for tricky scammers to trick you into giving up your information or your money. Tap or click for tricks to spot scam texts and your best defense against them.

5. I can show you how to time the market

In times of strife, there’s always someone looking to make a buck. The stock market and cryptocurrency are down, and that presents an opportunity — at least that’s what a crook wants you to believe. The same goes for pitches you get to invest in stocks from cybersecurity companies to ammunition.

Here’s the truth: Anyone that reaches out to you unsolicited with financial advice is in it to make money themselves.

6. If I could just give my loved one a proper burial

The funeral scam surfaces during national tragedies, natural disasters and wartime: Pleas for money to bury deceased family members or money for plane tickets to attend a funeral. It’s easy to see why people fall for this ploy.

Emotions take over, and you want to help. Treat emails or other communications with caution, and don’t send money directly to someone you don’t know through a payment app or website.

7. I’m defending your freedom

Fraudsters won’t just play on your emotions to help others. They will appeal to your sense of patriotism, too. Think twice if you hear from someone claiming to be an American soldier stuck in Ukraine.

This phone American service personnel may ask you for money, help get a message to their family, or supplies. Similarly, these requests can come from someone claiming to be a Ukrainian or Russian soldier, too.

8. Do as I say or else

Cybercriminals often use urgency to push us to make bad decisions. When you’re feeling flustered, you may do things you wouldn’t in a calmer state. That’s why phony calls threatening jail time from the IRS work so well.

That’s also why fake emails or calls from your boss or a higher-up at your company work, too. They almost always have an urgent tone, asking you to send money or information right now.

If you receive an unusual request, contact this person in another way to verify the request.

9. It looks so legit

Gas prices are going up, and you can bet fake sites and apps that tell you where the lowest gas prices are in your area will be coming out of the woodwork. Don’t trust anything new that pops up.

Instead, go with an established option you can trust. I like Waze and GasBuddy for this purpose. Tap or click here for a direct download link for GasBuddy and steps on how to use it.

10. I will love you until the end of time

Romance scams are incredibly effective. The FBI says victims of romance fraud lost $1 billion in 2021 — and that’s just what was reported. Why do they work so well?

When we’re falling in love or just attracted to someone, our defenses are down. We don’t want to believe that a beautiful woman or charming man isn’t who they say they are.

Be on the watch for anyone who tells you they need to leave the Ukraine or Russia immediately because of the war, and they want to build a new life with you. This scammer will send you photos, videos and even sext with you. Then, the money requests start for food, rent, and airline tickets to come to see you.

The IRS has new changes including the $600 rule, WFH deductions, child tax credits and more. In this episode, tax accountant Rachel Cheek and I dive into the many ways deductions, forms, social media and rules will impact your 2021 tax return.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Kim Komando

(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

3 tech steps you should have in place before you die

It’s a grim topic, but in today’s digital age, we have to plan for what happens to all our online accounts, data, notes, photos, videos, websites, playlists, blogs, and subscriptions once we’re gone.
5 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

Secret words that tech support pros use to describe you

Tech support is a difficult, frustrating, and often thankless job. Like most professionals, IT folks have their own lingo. Here are 10 insider words that you might hear to describe you.
12 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

Save a little time and use your voice to control the TV

Time-saving principles can be applied to your TV. You can speak to search for movies, control the volume, pause, rewind, skip to the next episode, and more.
19 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

This is how Facebook knows so much about you and how you can stop it

On Facebook, your activity speaks volumes. The social networking website also knows what you do elsewhere because you might have connected apps sharing your data. You can stop that.
26 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Kim Komando

5 dangerous cybersecurity mistakes you’re probably making

Don't think you're too smart to fall for the tricks of cybercrooks. Here are five simple, effective ways to secure your smartphone.
1 month ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Kim Komando

10 handy gadgets worth buying that you didn’t know you needed

In the consumer tech world, there's always something new to buy. Here are 10 standouts that you'll genuinely use and appreciate.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
By Dr. Richard Carmona

Now’s a great time to receive your COVID-19 vaccine

If you haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccine yet, now’s the time to join many other of your fellow Arizonans who are doing so right now. No one will criticize you; there is no shame. In fact, you’ll be welcomed with smiles and open arms!
10 Russia-Ukraine war scams hitting email, texts and social media