Beyond the Nigerian Prince: Modern Scams Targeting Graphic Designers

Beyond the Nigerian Prince Modern Scams Targeting Graphic Designers

Graphic designers can’t afford to miss new messages in their inboxes if they want to stay on top of their game. New contacts are crucial for new job opportunities. But when business is slow, they may become overeager and fall prey to scammers and hoaxes.


You can spot a Nigerian Prince scam from a mile away, so phishing is not a concern, right? I wouldn’t be so confident when it comes to modern-day scams.


Phishing attacks have become so dangerous, sophisticated, and unpredictable that they are responsible for a major portion of 2023’s 10 billion dollar cybercrime bill. Scammers have even developed their own AI to improve the success rate of their phishing attacks. It’s a clear and present danger to graphic artists. Let’s look deeper at this threat and what you can do to stay safer.


Why Is Phishing So Dangerous?

Phishing attacks fall into two distinct risk categories. Both categories of attacks come via the same avenue.


In some cases, attackers aim to get your personal or sensitive information. They might sell or use it against you or people who know and trust you. In other cases, attackers try to infect your devices with malware or ransomware.


For effective phishing identification, it’s crucial to recognize how these attacks are launched. Often, it begins with the attacker engaging in a conversation, aiming to earn your trust, or by sending a message that contains a malicious link or an infected attachment.


The most common attack method is email phishing. The attacker sends a deceitful message to pique your interest and elicit a response or a click. Examples of phishing emails include notifications of shopping deliveries, unexpected credits on shopping sites, social media notifications, competition or prize wins, and messages from banks.

Spear Phishing Campaign Against Graphic Artists

Graphic artists belonging to the Graphic Artists Guild have recently been on the receiving end of a spate of spear phishing attacks. The attacker researched the target group and created a compelling line of approach.


They created personalized messages to increase the chances of success. The attacker abused an organization’s reputation to appear trustworthy. They even falsely assumed the identities of others in the community or used their names as (unknowing) references.


Other Popular Scams in the Industry

Graphic artists are not just fighting off phishing attacks. They also have to guard against other ploys, such as: 


  • Vanity or fake galleries: They charge artists exorbitant fees to exhibit their work, promising exposure and recognition in return. However, these galleries are often scams and do not provide any real value to the artist.
  • Fake job postings: Scammers may post phony job listings online, often on freelance job boards. These listings seem legitimate to trick the artist into providing personal information or paying a fee. Gathered personal information can be used to apply for fraudulent loans, credit cards, or unemployment claims.
  • Social media scams: Scammers may create fake profiles and pages. They pose as potential clients or buyers. 
  • Equipment purchase scams: Fraudsters may cut the artist a check in advance to buy special equipment for a project. Once the victim deposits the cheque, the scammer instructs them to buy the special equipment through the fake company’s approved vendors. However, the check is not funded. When the bank refuses the transaction, the artist is out of pocket. To add insult to injury, the ‘approved vendor’ is the scammer himself. The artist’s payment goes straight into the scammers’ pockets. 
  • Payment scams: Another variation is when scammers ‘accidentally’ send artists more money than agreed. They then ask the artist to return the difference. 

How Do Scammers Build Trust With Their Victims?

The recent spate of attacks illustrates that phishing attackers may go to great lengths to target a specific group of people. In spear phishing attacks, they may use the following techniques:


  • False representation: They use the names of legitimate companies, logos, or letterhead with the companies’ correct addresses for their fake employment letters. 
  • Detailed application forms: Scammers may ask the artist to complete a professional-looking job application to mine work and personal information. 
  • Fraudulent job listings: Scammers may list projects on legitimate job boards such as Indeed or UpWork.
  • Extensive interviews: Scammers may conduct extensive interviews with legitimate-sounding questions to appear legitimate.
  • Name-dropping and stolen photo IDs: Scammers may impersonate or reference trusted sources, such as members from the same association. They may also impersonate well-known individuals using photo IDs stolen from previous victims.
  • Fake or stolen profiles: They may create fake profiles or duplicate the profiles of legitimate recruiters on platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook. Sometimes, they hack and hijack legitimate profiles. This can perpetuate the scam almost indefinitely and do untold damage to the victim of the hack.

What Can Graphic Artists Do to Protect Themselves?

Always verify the legitimacy of the company, the recruiter, or the client’s identity before sharing personal information or accepting any job offers. Check their email address, social media profile, website, reviews, and other online presence to ensure they are legitimate. Check that the company is legitimately hiring for the position under discussion. 


Additionally, practice good cyber hygiene. Why spend a fortune on a high-spec computer and the newest software only to fall into the first cybersafety trench? 


  • Protect your passwords: Use strong passwords and switch on two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
  • Protect your online presence: It may be essential to have a social media profile. However, be cautious about the information you share online. Consider using a pseudonym. Hide your contact information to avoid being targeted by scammers.
  • Protect your internet connection: Use a virtual private network (VPN). It encrypts the data you send and receive by enclosing it in a private tunnel. This encryption prevents eavesdroppers from stealing your logins or sensitive information online. It will also protect the files you exchange with your clients.
  • Click that update button: Updates address newly discovered vulnerabilities and fix security loopholes. Always update promptly.
  • Use secure file storage: Use secure cloud storage and protect it with a strong password.


Some Final Thoughts

It’s an unpleasant thought, but the scam and phishing industry is growing. Cybercriminals are becoming bolder and more sophisticated. Graphic designers should stay ahead of the various scams and hoaxes in the industry. Exercise caution. Double-check the legitimacy of any requests before giving out personal information or clicking on any links. And, most importantly, keep creating!


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Modern Scams Targeting Graphic Designers and how to avoid them

If you found this post useful you might like to read these post about Graphic Design Inspiration.


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