Beware of Imitations! Security, Internet Scams, and the African Real Estate Agenda
Fishing on the Internet has come a long way. However, we TechWeb junkies like to call it Phishing. What I am talking about here is not going after your ordinary, everyday catch. Yet a fine catch it indeed may be to those thieving bandits if they can lure you into giving up your personal and private information. Trickery is vast and common on the World Wide Web. Beware, I say, beware!
Email schemes, called "phishing" or "carding", attempt to trick consumers into disclosing personal and/or financial information. The emails appear to come from legitimate companies with whom consumers may regularly conduct business. I have seen scams appear to come from such noteworthy corporation as AOL, Earthlink, Paypal, eBay, or major credit card issuers. Often times the email threatens termination of accounts unless consumers update billing information.
Phishing comes around in all forms. How many of you have had some Nigerian Prince that just inherited 35 million US dollars offer to share it with you for one reason or another? How many of you have received an e-mail supposedly from your bank that for "security reasons" requests you to click a link that takes you to an online form to fill out, requesting all your personal and confidential information about your bank account?
A word to the wise: there is no Prince in Nigeria that needs your help, and your bank will never ask you for that info in an e-mail!
The latest Internet scam appears to come from the South African Department of Mining. "Resources and we are in dire need of a foreign partner to assist us in the receipt and investment of US$15,500,000.00?" All they request is a secure place to deposit the lump sum on US territory, and you will gain a large piece of the pie. WOW, what a deal!
Another I received comes from Johnson Mgabe, the son of the leader of the Republic of Zimbabwe Agricultural Commission. His father has just been assassinated, and he, the only remaining heir, is trying to escape. If you help him, he will give you lots of dough! Right on! "Please e-mail and tell me of your decision. I am ready to pay you 25% of the money [$45.5 Million] for your help, 5% shall go for expenses you might incur during the transaction. The remainder [70%] shall be mine."
Ok, ok, I am convinced; here is my private bank account, my SSN, DL# and address. Please tell me what I need to do next. Are they for real? Seriously though, if people didn't fall for these types of stunts, there wouldn't be so many floating around. Identity theft has become more and more rampant in this techno traveling world.
Again I say, beware.
Many of these email schemes contain links to "look-alike" websites that are loaded with actual trademarked images. The websites then instruct consumers to "reenter" their credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank PINs, or other personal information. If consumers actually provide the information requested, the data goes to scammers, not the legitimate company whose name is on the site. Thereafter, the data is often used to order goods or services and/or to obtain credit in the name of the consumer and potentially, steal your identity.
Again, I say, beware!
Rule for the road:
If you receive a precarious e-mail asking you for personal information, chances are it is a scam. It is better to be safe than sorry.
By Greg Richburg
Greg Richburg is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and the owner of Netricks, Inc. a network consulting, web design and hosting company located in Fresno, CA.
More of Richburg's work may be seen at http://www.valley411.com
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