Spam, Scams, and Everything in Between

CW spamI have been getting an onslaought of email scams lately and it’s left me with some burning questions and has inpired me to write the most personalized blog posting to date.  Is there anything we can do to stop or prevent this problem? Is there is a place for censorship in today's society? Would censorship serve to erode our First Amendment rights? And my biggest question, why do people do this? I am going to discuss spam, scams, and everything in between. 

 

I can see a strong use for some censorship in email. 

I can’t tell you how tired I am of receiving advertisements or very explicit images of a sexual nature in my email.  Or the lastes craze, scams that try to convince me that a long lost relative died and left me millions.   I do not feel that email should be considered public domain, but rather private and it deserves privacy protection. 

Companies are not allowed to send you sexual materials in the mail without your request, so why can they email them? These types of ads are sent to anyone with an email address with no concern as to the age of the recipient.  As long as these types of materials are available to people who want them by request, I do not see the harm in censoring them.  It is possible to have an ad for these things without the graphic images, it is possible for websites to have an entrance page that does not contain these types of images and force them to use code in the page that won’t allow the user to open the page unless there is an absence of parental controls.  This is something we are starting to see, but it is not efficient yet.

Con artists that walk up to your front door are prosecuted for committing crimes but what do you do when the scam is from a global level? FRAUDULENT SPAM E-MAIL is reaching an all-time high and Internet fraud victims are loosing a lot of money.

My argument about the first amendment….

What about my privacy? Stop calling me trying to sell me something, stop calling me trying to scam me, stop emailing me trying to do the same, and stop emailing me trying to entice me to your site with vulgar images!

Why do people do this? 

Because people fall for it!. If scammers wheren’t making money they wouldn't be doing it.

Is there anything we can do to stop or prevent this problem?

Top 10 email scams:

#1 Advance-fee fraud

The Scam:

An advance-fee fraud is a confidence trick in which the con artist tries to persuade the victim to send sums of money with the promise of  a significantly larger return. Among the variations on this type of scam, are the Nigerian Letter (also called the 419 fraud, Nigerian scam, Nigerian bank scam, or Nigerian money offer[2]),[3] the Spanish Prisoner, the Black money scam as well as Russian/Ukrainian scam.  I get some kind of variation of this scam on almost a daily basis.

What You Can Do

Delete the email.

Nigerian Letter Scam or 419

(I get variations of this one almost daily)

The Scam:

Con artists claiming to be officials, businesspeople, or the surviving spouses of former government honchos in Nigeria or another country whose money is somehow tied up for a limited time. The "419 letter," named for the Nigerian penal code that addresses crime schemes, shows up as an e-mail from someone looking for your help in a seemingly desperate yet worthy cause, usually someone looking to give money away in his or her final days or looking for a long lost relative of the deceased.  

If the victim agrees to the deal, the con artists will often send one or more false documents bearing official government stamps, and seals. 419 scammers often mention false addresses and use photographs taken from the internet or from magazines to falsely represent themselves.

The victim is asked to pay up front an Advance Fee of some sort, "Advance Fee", "Transfer Tax", "Performance Bond", or to extend credit, grant COD privileges, or send back "change" on an overage cashier's check or money order. If the victim pays the Fee, there are often many "Complications" in the process that require the victim to make more advance payments until the victim either quits or runs out of money.

What You Can Do

Delete the email.

#2 Unable to Deliver UPS Package

The Scam:

You get an e-mail from the UPS saying that a package for you was undeliverable because of a wrong address. The email urges the recipient to open an attached file so

that an invoice for the package can be printed out. Unfortunately, the attachment is actually a virus that can steal your personal information.

What You Can Do:

Don't open emails with attachments you aren't expecting.  Legit companies won't do this.

#3: Investment Pump & Dump

The Scam:

You receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be a power broker containing a hot tip on a penny stock that promises to double, even triple, in short time. So you go for it, only to see it tumble within hours. The con artists"pump up" the value of a new stock by using mass emails to generate interest in the stock and sucker ameture investors into buying bulk shares. Once the stock value rises enough, the con artists then "dump their shares" in a big sellout, the stock then crashes, and the victims lose thousands of dollars.

What You Can Do

Delete the email.

#4 Lottery scams

The Scam:

Victims are notified by email that they have won a lottery and to contact a "claims agent." After contacting the agent, the victim is asked to pay transfer fees, taxes or provide proof of their identity and/or details of their bank accounts or credit cards in order to receive the "winnings". Email lottery scams are a type of advance fee fraud.

What You Can Do

Delete the email. You will never randomly receive money you were not expecting.  Period.

#4: Cancel This Order!

The Scam:

So you're surfing the 'Net one night and you receive an e-mail confirming your order. You think, "What order?"

You follow the "cancel" link in the e-mail, thinking you're protecting your credit card, when all you're doing is giving a rogue site your personal data.

What You Can Do

Carol says: "These e-mails should be deleted immediately upon receipt. It's simple: If you didn't order something but you receive an e-mail asking you to confirm the 'order,' call the company that appears to be sending the message, and get to the bottom of [the situation] over the phone. The customer service representative will likely tell you they don't have any record of this activity, and you'll know for sure that you just avoided the bait."

You can also call your credit card company to see if a random charge actually appeared. Review with them purchases you have made, and if anything stands out, immediately dispute the charge. Most credit card companies will work with you to first freeze the card and then trace the charge.

Scam #4: You Win!

The Come-On

After all those MegaBall tickets and EasyScratches, you finally get that e-mail -- you've won millions!

The Scam

Of course, in order to get the money, you'll need to submit your bank account and credit card information because there's a handling charge. You'll be charged, usually for the handling charges of $75-100 and never get the winnings.

What You Can Do

Carols says: "An e-mail claiming that it's your lucky day most likely actually means the exact opposite. You should never pay to play. It's illegal for a company to require you to buy something or pay a fee in order to win or claim a prize. And real winners pay taxes to the government, not the company purporting to be giving you the 'prize.'"

Scam #6: Gone Phishing

The Come-On

This scam usually comes in the form of an e-mail warning you that you need to update your bank (or PayPal) account for security purposes.

The Scam

The link in the e-mail takes you to what looks like your bank's real Web site, but is actually a rogue site designed to capture your login information. Once the criminals have this information, they can go and log into your actual account and begin siphoning money, information, and even try to use the same log-in information for your other accounts, as most people use the same password across various sites.

What You Can Do

Carol says: "Crooks have come up with some pretty ingenious ways of disguising themselves as a trusted institution or company in order to get consumers' personal information. The key to avoiding ID theft via being phished is to remember that YOU are in control of your personal data. Keep it secure, and don't give it to someone who prompts you to unless you're confident that they need it for legitimate purposes."

Scam #7: Fake News

The Come-On:

You get an e-mail announcing that the United States has invaded Iran, or some other sensational news headline, with a link to the story.

The Scam:

The Web site is designed to look like a real news page with a video player and a banner, but they're fakes. Once you click them to get the story, you're in danger of downloading malware known as the 'Storm Worm,' a backdoor Trojan that steals your personal information and uses your computer to spread more fraudulent emails. Beware of downloading anything named "iran_occupation.exe" or any similar, untrustworthy names.

What You Can Do:

Don't rely on anonymous e-mails to get your news. If you see a headline and you absolutely must find out if it's true, then go to a trusted news site rather than click on the link. If you do fall for it, make sure your antivirus and malware protections are up-to-date.

Scam #7: Make Money From Home!

The Come-On:

You get an e-mail offering you a job that sounds like an easy way to make a quick buck. All you have to do is cash a check, keep a percentage for yourself, and wire the rest back.

The Scam:

Like the Nigerian fraud, the funds you're getting are fake, even though they might look legit. A few days after you deposit the check and wire the rest back, the check will be discovered as phony and you'll have paid the scammers from your own pocket.

What You Can Do:

Don't be fooled by personal job offers. Many times, scammers find victims through online ads and try to threaten legal action if you don't comply. As always, if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Scam #9: Phishing for Stimulus

The Come-On:

You're getting a tax refund from the IRS. Woohoo, free money!

The Scam:

The e-mail, which comes from "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.," provides a link for you to follow to fill out a special form with personal and financial information. In reality, the IRS will never ask for this info unsolicited, and you don't have to fill out anything more than your normal tax forms to get the refund.

What You Can Do:

Delete the message. If you feel like maybe you deserve the refund and have questions about it, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 . They'll tell you all you need to know.

Scam #10: Donate To Scammers!

The Come-On:

People in China and Myanmar need your charity.

The Scam:

Preying upon people's guilt after the disasters that killed thousands and affected millions, e-mails ask for charitable donations. Many times, the e-mails will warn against spam e-mails and unsecure transactions before taking you to a legit-looking page to donate directly to defrauders.

What You Can Do:

Don't give in to unsolicited charity pleas. If you're going to donate over the Internet, visit the charity of your choice directly, by typing the Web site address directly into your browser's address field.

Scam #111: Pay Or Die

The Come-On:

A hitman has been hired to kill you but there's a chance he'll let you live.

The Scam:

An e-mail from the killer says you'll survive if you pay him off immediately. Naturally, the scammer hopes you'll panic and send the money, but there's no immediate threat. Often, they'll include some generic personal details that are easily found on the 'Net to heighten your fear.

What You Can Do:

Keep cool, even if the threat seems credible. Ignoring it is the best idea, and if you feel the need to, contact the authorities. After all, a death threat is a death threat is a death threat.

Tags: Internet, internet safety, spam, scams