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What does online fraud look like?

Online fraud is one of the most common cybercrime activities and unfortunately this activity amounts to some $20 billion in customer losses around the world each year.

There are various types of fraud that one can fall victim to and in this article, we will set out some of the most common ones.

Invoice Fraud

Fake invoices are a common tactic for committing online fraud. Criminals often have a good understanding of the type and frequency of transactions between clients and suppliers and use this knowledge to their advantage. Either by spoofing an email address or gaining access to a genuine email address through malware, they can send fake invoices together with messages asking for payment details to be changed. This means that funds to pay both legitimate and fake invoices end up being transferred into the criminals’ accounts. Invoice fraud can be so sophisticated that it is frequently not detected until the legitimate payee chases up for non-payment. By the time this happens, the original funds have already disappeared. It is vital, therefore, that any requests to change payment details are treated with extreme caution and checked thoroughly before being agreed tot.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is when scammers manipulate human emotions to make individuals divulge personal or sensitive information. The most common forms of social engineering are baiting, when victims are enticed into sharing details by the promise of a reward and phishing, were a sense of urgency or the threat of a negative consequence is used to pressure people to part with information, or download software, that is useful to scammers. While you can find more information on social engineering and phishing in separate articles on this website, our advice once again is to always exercise caution. If you receive a message with an offer that seems too good to be true or, alternatively, feels threatening or is placing undue pressure on you, do not respond or click on any links.


Skimming occurs when devices which are illegally installed on ATMs, Point of Sale (PoS) machines, fuel pumps etc, capture users card data and PINs. This data is usually stored on the device to be downloaded wirelessly later. While most skimming devices are difficult to spot and will most likely be on the inside of the machine you are using, it makes sense to inspect an ATM or fuel pump before using it to see if there any signs it has been tampered with. It is also best to use machines that are in busy, well-lit areas, as these are less likely to have been targeted by skimmers.

Preventing fraud

In addition to remaining vigilant, there are a few more tips to help you prevent online fraud. These include not sharing information such as usernames and passwords with anyone, using strong passwords, not opening messages and emails from unknown sources, and checking the URLs included in messages to ensure they are secure and begin with https://. It is also very important to regularly check activity on you bank accounts so that you are able to spot any suspicious transactions and advise your bank immediately.

Useful Contact Details

If you have any concerns about activity on your MeDirect accounts, please call us on (+356) 2557 4400.

If you need to report online fraud or a suspicion of online fraud to the authorities, below are details for some of Europol’s relevant bodies.

Malta: computer.crime@gov.mt

United Kingdom: www.actionfraud.police.uk

Belgium: info@ccb.belgium.be

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