Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Con Man's New Playground: Internet Scams

--Con men running wild on the internet.
Chat room, bulletin board, and newsgroup participants are the ones at greatest risk, as well as those who respond to spammers.

What is it about the internet that attracts con artists like flies to potato salad?

The reasons are many. While countries, provinces, state and local governments have clearly defined borders, the internet has none. Its reach is global. In this trading environment without borders con artists can easily hide behind fictitious names, a variety of aliases, mail drops. They can operate from nondescript boiler rooms, coffee houses, libraries with internet access. It affords the ultimate flexibility.

And, it provides a vast market of some 350 million people worldwide. From the mundane beginnings of the nineteenth century snake oil salesman to this present-day, kid-in-a-candy-store Utopia, is it any wonder that con artists everywhere are stampeding to get in? And, the choicest candy in the store is made up of the huge variety of newsgroups, chat rooms, and bulletin boards, which, along with spamming, make up the letter-perfect venue for them.

Such rip-offs as these nine:

1. Job scams. Often to extract your bank account or social security number.

2. Overpayments. The accompanying request to return the extra money is usually to steal vital account information.

3. Help in moving money from one country to another. The Nigerian offers. Good example. Need we say more?

4. Netherlands and Canadian lotteries. Practically never legitimate.

5. Find out everything about anyone. Great appeal to the dark side of so many people--those who wish to "get something" on a business associate, an acquaintance, or neighbor. Too often this is nothing more than an attempt to turn tables--to, instead, learn everything about you.

6. Questionnaires of all types. Many are seeded with extrapolative word puzzles, designed only to pull vital, personal information from you.

7. Jury duty. These notices are always handled by surface mail, not the internet.

8. Western Union scams. Usually a quick-buck grab, nothing more.

9. Disaster relief. Not only do United Way, the Salvation Army, and Red Cross rely heavily on donations, so do the con men

Thiiller book author, Jack Payne, whose book, Six Hours Past Thursday, covers con games extensively, has this thought,"Essence is to proceed with caution in conducting any money transactions--any at all--with first-time contacts. Luckily, the good guys have their names plastered all over the internet as well. Easy to spot, because you must contact them. They do not solicit you. Priceless information and help is out there. It's plentiful, readily offered.

"Whenever in doubt, tap these multitudinous sources."

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