| Monday, March 07, 2005
| HOW TO SPOT AN ONLINE SCAM.....
|The Internet is rife with schemes that start
with an e-mail and end up emptying your bank account.
"Phishing" e-mails are the latest incarnation of
ploys that involve identity theft.
ON LINE FRAUD IS a thriving business.
The target customer" You. Sure, you can spot e-mail offers
that are too good to be true( "Earn $50,000 to $80,000 a
year stuffing envelopes at home!"), but even as your finger
hits the delete button, you may wonder wistfully,
Can I really be sure it's a scam?
Trust me. You can be sure. The worldwide cost of online
fraud is estimated at more than $100 million a year.
Reported losses alone topped $22 million in the last two years,
says the National Consumers League(NCL). Here's what you need
to know about Internet rackets and why smart people fall for them.
CONS FEED OUR FANTASIES
Con artists don't just play on greed. They make you feel like
you're getting the luck and recognition you deserve.
The stranger who offers you millions of dollars to help him
smuggle a fortune out of Hong Kong is singling you out to
star in a real drama, even if his script is inadvertently hilarious;
"I am Mr. Wang Qin, credit officer of the Hang Seng Bak.
I have a concealed business suggestion for you...
A head of state abandones a Diplomatic Trunk Box in our
warehouse prior his sudden death.. containing about $36.5 million.
Let us partnership together."
Other frauds aren't as easy to recognize - or laugh at.
One e-mail ring preys on people who are in desperate financial need,
promising them guaranteed credit for a fee. "To the victims,
it seems like a helping hand. In reality, it's a hand reaching
into their pocket for their last dime", says Susan Grant, director
of the NCL's Internet Fraud Watch.
Sadly, this scam attracts people too inexperienced with credit
to see through it. "A legitimate lender will never charge a fee
to gurantee a loan or a credit card", says Deborah Platt Majoras,
chariman of the Federal Trade Commission.
DON'T FILL IN THE BLANKS
A "Phising" scheme uses phony e-mails and Web sites
to get personal financial information. The e-mail claims to be from
your bank, credit-card issuer or a big name retailer. It asks you to
"confirm" your data by clicking on a link to a Web site (it looks just
like the real thing), when you fill in all the facts indentity thieves
needs. Sometimes they dangle tempting bait: A recent "phising" operation
offered Harry Potter fans an advance electronic copy of J.K. Rowling's
upcoming book. Rowling, who has never licensed electronic versions of
her books, blew the whistle on the crooks. As many as 150 million
such e-mails are believed to be sent out every day.
THE BASIC PRECAUTIONS
Your best defense is to follow the simple rules:
** Never agree to a transactions that requires you
to wire a money order or send cash or a check overnight.
Paying by credit care is safest, since you have a better chance
of reimbursement, says Ken Dreifach, chief of Internet Bureau
in the office of New York Attorney General Elliott Sptizer.
"People assume it's safer to pay by check, but nothing could
be further from the truth".
** Beware of P.O. Box return address.
"We've seen scams in which New York mailboxes turns out to
be registered by someone in Seattle on behalf of someone in Australia",
** Don't be cajoled or bullied into a hasty decision.
No legitimate merfchant requires immediate purchase or refuses to send you additional information. Hang up immediately on anyone who turns sarcastic.
If you hesitate or express skepticism. ("Well, I can see you don't need
this $1 million. Pardon me for wasting your time".)
** Never accept a lottery prize that requires a payment, handling fee or purchase.
A few dollars may seem like so little to gain a huge prize...but the
prize isn't really there.
YOU'LL PAY AND PAY AND ....
The basic con is very simple: You're persuaded to pay for something
you never get. Eventually, you wise up -- or run out of money.
If you respond to a notice that you've won a foreign lottery for
example, you will later learn there's an advance tax on the prize.
If you answer an e-mail inviting you to run a very legitimate
sounding insurance-billing service for medical professionals from
your home, you'll gradually discover there are fees for training
materials and computer equipments.
The grandaddy of e-mail scams is the "Nigerian" letter. Here is a
typical yarn: A civil servant or banker in a foreign country has
discovered an unclaimed multimillion-dolalr bank account. He urgently
needs your help to get this money out of his country. You'll get a
15percent to 40percent share.
All you need is provide your bank-account number, address, phone
and fax numbers. You get back "legal documents" confirming imminent
transfer of the money. Your "friend" reports that everything is going
perfectly. Then there's a last minute hitch-- a tax, fee or bribe that
must be paid before the money can be transferred to you. You pay it.
And it's the first of the many fees, each one described as the last.
Law enforcement agencies say the more the victim pays, the more fervently
he or she believes in the scam. These thieves get to you to empty your
bank account to them.
THE COUNTERFEIT CHECK
In a recent con, the criminal starts by sending you a check or money order.
Let's say you post a resume' or an items for sale on line. He says he
wants to hire you or buy what you're selling. He offers to send you
a check from somebody who owes him money - a check for more than what
your wages or asking price. You are instructed to deposit the check and
wire the excess to the scammer or someone else.
Your bank must make deposited funds available to you within five days.
But his check is a skillfull forgery that may not bounce for three weeks,
explains Susan Grant. When it does, your bank substracts the amount that
check from your account. The average loss for this scam is $5201.
Visit www.parade.com and click on "Weblinks" to learn more about Internet scams.
|posted by infraternam meam @ 12:38 AM