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: Audri and Jim Lanford
Excerpt from Internet ScamBusters ™ The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
Scams on the Internet are growing — and with the vast selection, it was hard to only choose ten. Weve tried to soften this list with a bit of humor. But please dont let the humor make these scams seem any less serious than they really are.
Some of these scams are very dangerous.
A word of warning, so to speak. These arent ranked by dollars lost or people scammed. Theres nothing scientific about the list. Its just the ten scams that we find the most disturbing.
Youll note that most of these involve spam. Theres a reason for that. The mentality of a spammer is exactly the same kind of mindset as a con artist.
As we always say: “If its spam, its scam.”
Here are the top 10 scams of 2001…
10. Herbal Viagra
This is really a whole category of scams, relating to the sale of medical or “alternative” medical treatments online. Usually using spam to get to the “customer.”
If youre lucky, these products will do nothing at all. Some of them are seriously dangerous by themselves. They promise cures for life threatening illnesses, causing those who buy the promise to delay proper medical treatment, sometimes past the point where it would have helped.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before buying into any of these nostrums. Itll save you a lot of headaches and heartache later.
Folks, consider this: If you wouldnt trust a spammer to handle your money, why would you take medical advice from them???
9. Internet Investigator
“Be the first kid on your block to know all the dirty secrets your neighbors are hiding! Find out what your prospective mate has hidden in his past! Find the lost city of Atlantis! Find your lost remote!”
This one is more an annoyance than a real problem. It serves as a great example of the pure hype that you should watch out for in online advertising.
Filled with promises of secret knowledge thats not available to anyone else, it delivers nothing more than a list of places you can pay to search for information. Its the perfect example of a pitch thats not quite a scam — but clearly misleads in its promise.
Ask yourself this: If this stuff was as easy as the ads make it out to be, wouldnt you see these “secret techniques” in magazines and on TV?
8. Pump and Dump
Youve probably gotten these. The subject line or first part of the email says that this is “Highly confidential information.”
This scam is based on touting “advance information” on specific stocks in an attempt to drive up the price past its true worth, so the promoters can sell at the higher price.
They pump it up, and then dump it. Hence the name.
This is generally illegal. And certainly a bad way to get investment advice…
Ask yourself: If its so confidential, why are they spamming it to millions of people?
7. Credit Scams
There are all sorts of these that prey on the desires of people to repair or establish credit.
The worst are the alleged credit repair services. They promise to help you to remove accurate but negative information from your credit record, or to show you how to get a federal Employer ID Number, usually in very questionable fashion.
Not only do these techniques not work, they can get you in deep trouble for committing fraud.
Youre not going to fix your credit while youre in jail.
As far as easy credit, guaranteed approval credit cards, and home equity loans that dont require equity in your home… forget it.
This one should be obvious: Cheap money? From a BANK???
6. Auction Antics
You can get a lot of terrific deals through online auctions, but you need to be careful. Before buying anything that seems too cheap, or that shouldnt be on an auction site at all, ask questions.
Look at the sellers feedback rating and comments. Youll get a lot of clues from that. Check the retail price of the merchandise. If its new merchandise, you can probably expect to pay 1/2 to 2/3 of retail, even at auction.
Remember the old story of the fellow who raffled off a brand new Lincoln at a small town carnival? Tickets were $1 each, and everyone figured they had a good chance.
He sold a lot of tickets, and, as promised, he delivered a brand new Lincoln… penny.
For more on auction fraud, you can check out the issue of Internet ScamBusters called “Online Auctions: Deals or Steals” at: http://www.scambusters.org/Scambusters43.html
5. Chain Letters
“Add your name to position X, move the name in position Y to position Z, send 200 copies of this letter to your closest personal friends, and very soon youll have no personal friends left!”
Dont believe the claims about legitimacy, folks. These things are illegal, immoral, and probably fattening.
Get a good anti-virus program, keep it updated, and keep it running.
Huh? What are viruses doing in the ranks of scams?
Theyre actually among the more clever of scams, if you think about it. Deceptive subject lines, hidden code that causes you to spread them to your friends, and almost always appealing to the most common desires.
3. Nigerian Fee Scam
This is an oldie, and a real baddie.
The basic line goes like this:
“I represent some high mucky muck who wants to get a lot of suspicious money out of my country, and we need help from you to do it. Well pay you stupid amounts of cash to be a front person.”
The system escalates until youve got money sunk into the scam, and they want you to visit the country in question in person. There have been people who played along with this and never made it home alive.
Originally this was focused through Nigeria, but with recent events, you may hear about Taliban leaders wanting help, or people from other war-torn countries.
Dont respond to these people in any way. People die falling for this one.
For more on this scam, check out: http://www.scambusters.org/NigerianFee.html
2. Identity Theft
This is a VERY serious problem. We covered this in our last issue of Internet ScamBusters. If you havent read it, do so now at: http://www.scambusters.org/Scambusters47.html
1. WTC Scams
The spams relating to the World Trade Center began within an hour of the attacks. They range from appeals for aid to the victims, usually sent through the spammers web sites, to fake news items concerning reported attacks.
Theres nothing funny to be said about these.
Dont pass them along, and dont contribute through any site that doesnt belong to a recognizable charity, such as the Red Cross or the United Way.
You can read more about these scams at: http://www.scambusters.org/Scambusters46.html
When you consider doing any sort of business online, look over this list and see if the appeal sounds like one or more of these scams. If so, check it out carefully before sending money.
Most online businesses are run by honest folks and are quite safe. Just use a little common sense and caution, and you should be fine.