#BuyerBeware: 6 Tips on Understanding Popular Scams & How to Avoid Getting Duped

terry cutler on global news with camille ross about scams

Global Montreal News interview July 4th 2013

“Have you ever been at the short end of the stick when it comes to scams?” Camille Ross, news anchor and host of The Morning News for Global Montreal asked. It’s a common question, and unfortunately, the common answer is ‘yes.’

With cyber security being a growing threat, online scams are becoming a more common problem. I was invited to be a guest on The Morning News on Global Montreal with Camille Ross on July 4th 2013 to talk about what these threats look like, and how to best avoid them.

First, we talked about the latest Kijiji scams. Back in January, I was asked to investigate a situation for a woman who had transferred money to people “selling” luxury cars. They told her to wire $10,000 to their American account, but then the rest of the money to their Slovakian account so as to not set off the anti-money laundering alerts. Sure enough, the woman, along with twelve other victims, lost their money forever.

Next, we talked about Ransomware, which happens when someone claiming to be from a company, like Microsoft, calls you saying that there may be something wrong with your computer and that they need to get into it to check what is wrong. After providing the mystery caller with your information, they freeze your computer claiming it is a “virus,” and then demand money to unlock it.

So how do you avoid this online scams? Here is our list of 6 tips you can follow to avoid being duped:


  1. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. This is where the buyer needs to ask questions.
  2. Look out for unusual professional photography used in the photograph ads. Often times, spam accounts use pictures of super models and stock photos. These people are hiding their real identities so you cannot track them later. Another problem with photographs is that the accuracy can be off. Is the seller “selling” 4 concert tickets, but more than that is depicted in the photograph? This can be another sign of a scam.
  3. Does the ad or email have poor grammar? Especially when receiving information from companies, look out for the the construction of the email; professional companies would be sure to use proper grammar, syntax, spelling, and sentence structure.
  4. If the seller refuses to provide tracking numbers or only wants to transfer money through non-traceable routes, they are likely trying to scam you so that you cannot find them later.
  5. Try Googling the seller’s phone number to see if anyone else has commented in forums about a scam.
  6. Instead of buying from unreliable sources like Kijiji or Craig’s List, buy tickets for concerts and events through reliable sources like the artist’s website, Ticketmaster, Paypal, or Evenko.ca. 

It’s all about buyer beware. Look out for suspicious behaviour online, and remember to be safe.


About the author

Terry Cutler is a co-founder of Digital Locksmiths, an IT security and data defense firm based in Montreal and serves as the company’s Chief Technology Officer and Certified Ethical Hacker. Prior to joining Digital Locksmiths, he was a Premium Support Engineer for Novell in Canada where he analyzed network vulnerabilities and transitioned security technologies into production. In addition to being a licensed private investigator in Canada, Terry is an internationally known author, trainer, speaker, and security consultant, Terry has appeared in numerous national television and radio programs and is very active on the conference circuit. Follow Terry on Twitter at @TerryPCutler and connect with him on LinkedIn


Terry Cutler

Terry Cutler

Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Digital Locksmiths, Inc.
Terry Cutler is the founder of Digital Locksmiths, Inc. - an IT security and data defense firm based in Montreal - and serves as the company's Chief Technology Officer. Terry is a Certified Ethical Hacker who has learned the mindset of hackers and trained in the techniques of "the bad guys" who seek to do harm to corporations and individuals alike.He is responsible for staying on top of the latest trends in cybersecurity and being an advocate for best practices in the identification and eradication of vulnerabilities that leave the customers of Digital Locksmiths susceptible to the most dangerous threats.Another one of Terry's roles is to be a thought leader for Digital Locksmiths by sharing his expert insights about effective digital security strategies and countermeasures through his writings, speaking engagements, and media interviews.

Connect with Terry on Google +
Terry Cutler