Rogues, rascals and scoundrels – there’s no doubt the online world has all three in abundant supply. There are also plenty of charlatans, liars and outright criminals, and at the office of Geelong website developers Goop Digital we’re rarely surprised by what people claim, promise or do to dishonestly extract hard-earned cash or goods and services from the unwary, the trusting or the naive.

There’s the extreme end of the scale, the theft. We have a client who received a call from a “security technician” who needed access to the client’s computer. In his innocence, the client granted the caller online access to his computer, then to his online bank account and watched as the “security technician” drained $10,000 from the account.

Then there are the fakers and fraudsters who are also lining their own pockets but in a less obvious and less costly manner. Another client had a guest stay at their coastal accommodation. The guest, a blogger, promised the host “25 times more exposure” if he placed a link to her blog in his website and provided her with free accommodation.

Twenty-five times more exposure! Wow, that sounds great, although it’s not necessarily true and what does it actually mean? The only person who’ll really benefit from that link from the client’s website is the blogger. Her website will get an inbound-link boost, and she got to enjoy free accommodation on the coast. Twenty-five times more exposure! Twenty-five times more than what?

Website developers saddened and frustrated

Our team of website developers in Geelong hear stories like these every week and they sadden and frustrate us.

We’re saddened because unscrupulous crooks and cheats are fleecing good people, taking advantage of their trust, innocence and, yes, ignorance.

We’re frustrated because we work in the online space and every one of these violations tarnishes us by association, making the task of our website development team in Geelong just that little bit harder. When we ask people to trust us they’re dubious because of online horror stories such as that of our $10,000 theft victim. When we ask people to follow our advice they question it because of misleading miscreants such as the free-accommodation-seeking blogger.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission estimates cybercrime costs the Australian economy $1 billion a year, and that’s without factoring in the personal emotional and physical toll the crimes exact on victims.

Goop Digital and a select group of website companies in Geelong are doing what they can to deliver honest, upfront and transparent services in the online space, working hard to lift our industry’s reputation above that of dodgy used car and real estate salespeople.

However, despite the determination of Goop Digital and our contemporaries, we know we’re only a drop in the ocean and our efforts will never stop online criminals and fraudsters taking advantage of the unwary. There’ll always be crooks trying to extract cash from bank accounts and swindlers making false promises for their own benefit.

Don’t trust strangers

You would have received the advice as a child and it still applies in adulthood – don’t trust strangers! We can only implore people to stop and think before they act on anything – that’s anything – a stranger on the end of the phone asks them to do with their computer. It doesn’t matter who the caller claims to be or who they claim to represent, just hang up. If they claimed to be from the bank, call the bank yourself and check whether there’s a problem. If they were supposedly from your telecommunications company, call your telco and ask if there’s a problem with your account. If it was somebody claiming there are problems with your computer, hang up and call your IT company. If you don’t have an IT company, call Goop Digital or another web developer and ask their advice. Do not – we repeat – do not provide access to your computer to anybody who calls.

Likewise, if you receive emails or calls from people claiming they can perform wonders with your website and its prominence in Google searches, call Goop Digital and ask our advice. We’ll tell you there are no shortcuts to standing out in Google searches, no magical links that’ll deliver “25 times more exposure”.  Don’t want to call Goop Digital? That’s fine, call another web developer. Just make sure the developer you call has prominence in Google for searches such as, for example, “website developers in Geelong” or “website advice Geelong”. The genuine companies will be up there at the top of Google’s organic unpaid listings. If they’re not there, they don’t know what they’re doing and probably don’t deliver what they’re selling.

Be vigilant and don’t become a victim

The internet has opened up a universe of information and resources for most Australians. Unfortunately it’s also opened up a universe of opportunities and resources for the unscrupulous, and a world of pain for victims of cybercrime.

Don’t become a victim. Don’t let cyber crooks take advantage of you. Be vigilant and, as awful as it might seem, treat with suspicion any stranger who calls you offering to solve a problem.  Please, do not grant any caller access to your computer, and distrust anybody emailing with offers and promises to boost your website or, more worrying, your bank account.

If you’d like to know more about cybercrime or Goop Digital’s Geelong-based website services, please contact us online or call on (03) 5222 4220. We’re always happy to help.

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