Google site to counter cyber-crooks

Luis Monzon

Ever opened your emails and received a poorly-worded message about a payment that you were not expecting? 

  What about one proclaiming that you’ve won a competition you never entered. “Congratulations!” it reads, beneath, a sinister attachment that you probably should not open.

  This is becoming more common, and now Google has unveiled a website to teach people how to spot and avoid online scams. Digital hoaxes, malware and cyber-attacks have been surging during the on-going coronavirus pandemic.

  The website,, tries to show users how to identify things such as false stimulus checks, fake vaccine offers, or other fake medical information. The site also attempts to make clear certain patterns that are typical of hoaxes, like a romance scammer asking a target to wire them money or buy them a gift card, in order for users to recognise them before it’s too late.

  Google launched the tool in partnership with the Cybercrime Support Network NPO focused on helping victims of online fraud. The website includes a quiz that runs through common scam scenarios, like getting a message about winning a trip to a tropical destination, even if the recipient didn’t enter a contest.

  Americans have lost more than $40 million because of Covid-19-related scams, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The agency projects more than $2 billion will be lost due to scams across the board this year, coronavirus-related or otherwise. 

  By 2025 cybercrime is expected to cost the world economy more than $27-billion.

  The new website is also specially tuned to targeting and teachings seniors, who disproportionately lose more money than other demographics because of scams, Google says. The website urges to share information form the website to the elders in their lives.

  A pioneer in the development of the Internet, as well as a Google VP; Vint Cerf says it will take a cross-generational effort. 

  “If we learn how to spot the bad actors, we can spend our time focusing on those moments that matter,” Cerf says.

  Cerf, who is 76, recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet,” says seniors should feel like they can use the internet comfortably, because “we invented” it. ITNews Africa

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