The History of Fraud: From the Earliest Scams to Modern Cybercrime


For as long as history can remember, there has been fraud. Some of the earliest frauds were recorded instance from 300 BC in Greece. Over the centuries, fraud has evolved into a complex and sophisticated crime that can cost businesses and individuals millions of dollars. And now, with the popularity of social networks, hackers have managed to make FACEBOOK SCAMS and other online scams an even bigger threat. This blog post will look at the history of fraud and explore how it has changed over time. We will also discuss some of the most common types of fraud and how to protect yourself from them.

The beginnings of fraud

The beginnings of fraud can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where merchants would use false weights and measurements in their business transactions. In 300 BC, Greece recorded the first instance of insurance fraud when Hegestratos, a shipping merchant, attempted to collect money from insurers after he deliberately sank his boat but saved the cargo.

The first act of financial fraud dates back to 193 AD during the Roman Empire. The Praetorian Guard, responsible for protecting the emperor, attempted to sell rights to the royal throne, even though they had no legal claim.

Not to mention, forging money is an age-old practice that dates back many centuries. Since the beginning of trade, there have been people looking to take advantage of weaknesses in the system for financial gain.

In medieval Europe, laws were put in place to combat fraud, including the Statute of Frauds in England in 1677, which required certain contracts to be in writing to prevent false claims.

But it wasn’t until the industrial revolution that fraud started to become a problem on a larger scale. As businesses began producing and selling more goods, scammers saw an opportunity to counterfeit products or falsely advertise them. The increasing fraud led to consumer protection laws such as the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906, which regulated the labelling and advertising of food and medicine.

In modern times, as technology continues to advance rapidly, so do the methods of fraud. With the rise of online shopping and banking, cybercrime has become a major issue for businesses and individuals. Identity theft, phishing scams, and credit card fraud are just some examples of the ways scammers can steal personal information and money through the internet.

Frauds throughout history

  • One of the earliest examples of someone committing property fraud dates back to 1821. Gregor MacGregor was selling land that did not exist and convincing potential buyers that he was constructing homes on a false premise.
  • Counterfeiting has been around for centuries, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. In 1911, art was being counterfeited to make a quick buck. Eduardo de Valiferno paid an employee from the Louvre art gallery to steal Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa so he could sell fakes to underground collectors.
  • In 1920, Charles Ponzi carried out the first Ponzi scheme, a type of investment scam. He promised investors high returns on their investments but instead used the money from new investors to pay off those who had already invested. This scheme is named after him, and it’s still being used today by scammers worldwide.
  • Identity fraud and check fraud were also common in the early 1900s. One famous example is Frank Abagnale Jr., who had over eight identities, including an airline pilot, a physician, and a lawyer. You find out more about this story in the movie “Catch Me if You Can”.

How has fraud changed over the years?

One of the most significant changes in fraud over time is the shift from physical to digital methods. In the past, criminals would have to physically steal a credit card or identity documents and use them for financial gain. With the rise of online banking and shopping, there are new avenues for scammers to steal personal information and commit fraud.

Another change is the sophistication of scams. Scammers constantly find new ways to manipulate victims through targeted phishing emails or complex investment schemes. These technological advancements also make it easier for scammers to operate anonymously, making it harder for authorities to track and prosecute them.

Despite these changes, some things remain constant – people will always try to find weaknesses in the system for personal gain, and it’s important to stay vigilant and protect yourself against potential fraud. Education and awareness are key in preventing yourself from falling victim to these scams.

The fraud landscape today

Today, fraud is a global issue with no borders. The rise of the internet has made it easier for scammers to operate on a larger scale and target victims worldwide. So far, in 2022, the number of cyberattacks on small businesses has increased significantly. For example, Trojan-PSW detections, internet attacks and attacks against Remote Desktop Protocols have increased compared to last year.

Password stealing ware

From 2022 to 2021, the number of Trojan-PSW (Password Stealing Ware) detections increased by almost a fourth globally 一, from 4,003,323 to 3,029,903. This malware steals passwords and other account information as a way for attackers to gain access to company networks and steal sensitive data.

Internet attacks

From 2021 to 2022, internet attacks gradually rose from 32.5 to 35.4 globally. These can include web pages with malicious redirects, sites containing viruses and other harmful programs, botnet command & control centres and more.

Remote desktop protocol

With an increasing number of people working remotely, many companies have introduced the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), which allows computers on the same network to be linked and accessed remotely. RDP is convenient for employees who are working from home. The number of attacks on the Remote Desktop Protocol in the United States grew from 47.5 million in 2021 to 51 million in 2022.

Most common types of fraud and how to protect yourself

Today’s most common types of fraud include phishing, credit card fraud, identity theft, and investment scams.

To protect yourself against these threats, you must regularly monitor your financial accounts and report any suspicious activity immediately. Using strong, unique passwords for all online accounts is crucial as avoiding clicking on unknown links or giving out personal information over the phone or email. Staying informed about current scams can also help you recognize red flags and avoid falling victim to them.

It’s important to remember that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is 一 trust your gut instinct and don’t let greed cloud your judgement in any financial decisions. Ultimately, staying vigilant and practising good cybersecurity habits are vital to protect yourself against fraud.

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