WS>>Internet ScamBusters #48

carl william spitzer iv cwsiv_2nd at JUNO.COM
Thu Feb 14 17:43:27 MST 2002


     Internet ScamBusters (tm)
     The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

     By Audri and Jim Lanford
     Copyright (c) 2002 Audri and Jim Lanford

     Issue #48  January 10, 2002

     First,  Happy New Year! We hope 2002 is a truly  exceptional
     year for you in every way. And a big welcome to all our  new
     subscribers.

     At  the  end of last year, a reporter from  the  Today  show
     called and asked us for the top scams for 2001.

     That got us thinking...

     We  realized that you -- our subscribers -- might also  like
     to know our "Top 10 Scams of 2001."

     So, that's how we'll start off this year.

     A  word  of  warning, so to speak. These  aren't  ranked  by
     dollars  lost or people scammed. There's nothing  scientific
     about  the  list. It's just the ten scams that we  find  the
     most disturbing.

     Given the number of different scams that we see every  year,
     this  is a pretty tough list for us to put  together.  We've
     tried  to soften it with a bit of humor, but  please,  don't
     let  that make these scams seem any less serious  than  they
     really are.

     Some of these scams are very dangerous.

     You'll  note  that  most of these involve  spam.  There's  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 it's spam, it's scam."

     So, let's get started. Here are...

     ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
     Internet ScamBuster's Top 10 Scams for 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 you're 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. It'll save you a lot of headaches and heart-
     ache later.

     Folks,  consider  this: If you wouldn't 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 that's not  avail-
     able to anyone else, it delivers nothing more than a list of
     places  you  can  pay to search for  information.  It's  the
     perfect  example of a pitch that's 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, wouldn't you see these "secret techniques"  in
     magazines and on TV?


     8. Pump and Dump

     You've probably gotten these. The subject line or first part
     of the email says that this is "Highly confidential informa-
     tion."

     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 it's 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 informa-
     tion  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.

     You're not going to fix your credit while you're in jail.

     As far as easy credit, guaranteed approval credit cards, and
     home equity loans that don't require equity in your  home...
     forget it.

     Easy credit is very expensive, with rates far over the norm.
     "Services" selling "access to the lenders that will  approve
     your loan" don't guarantee anything. You're going to have to
     go  through the same approval process with these lenders  as
     with your local bank.

     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 shouldn't be on an auction site  at
     all, ask questions.

     Look  at the seller's feedback rating and  comments.  You'll
     get a lot of clues from that. Check the retail price of  the
     merchandise.  If  it's  new merchandise,  you  can  probably
     expect to pay 1/2 to 2/3 of retail, even at auction.

     Avoid  sellers  with email addresses at free  services  like
     Hotmail or Yahoo unless they have really extensive  positive
     feedback.  And check out some of that feedback to make  sure
     it's real...

     Whenever  possible,  pay with a credit card, and  check  the
     merchandise carefully as soon as it comes in. If it's not as
     represented, or it doesn't arrive, contact your credit  card
     company to correct the problem.

     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 you'll have no personal friends left!"

     Don't  believe  the claims about  legitimacy,  folks.  These
     things are illegal, immoral, and probably fattening.


     4. Viruses

     Get a good anti-virus program, keep it updated, and keep  it

     running.

     Huh? What are viruses doing in the ranks of scams?

     They're  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  coun-
          try, and we need help from you to do it. We'll pay
          you stupid amounts of cash to be a front person."

     The  system escalates until you've 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.

     Don't 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

     We  covered this in our last issue. This is a  VERY  serious
     problem.

     If   you   haven't  yet  read  this  issue,   do   so   now:
     http://www.scambusters.org/Scambusters47.html

     Visit, read it, and be prepared.


     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.

     There's nothing funny to be said about these.

     Don't pass them along, and don't contribute through any site
     that  doesn't 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.

     On  a personal note, we'd like to take a moment to wish  you
     and yours a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

     Thanks for letting us share your online experience. We  hope
     ScamBusters has been of help to you, and that we can contin-
     ue to help you protect yourself for many years to come.

     Audri and Jim Lanford


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