National Consumer Protection Week: Internet Hoaxes
BOSTON (CBS) – Please, please do not believe everything you read online and do not trust random websites! Or Facebook or Twitter! All of us had mothers that told us if it sounds to be good to be true, it probably is! Remember that and you will never be scammed.
Some examples of Internet Hoaxes:
A Lottery Announcement –You get an official looking e-mail (if there is such a thing) telling you, you have just won $750,000 in the Mega Fund International Lottery. They ask you to send some personal information, which will allow them to file your claim for the prize, or they ask for money so they can get your prize to you.
Do not respond! Delete it! Do not send them money or give them your credit card number or your banking information. They will empty your bank accounts. It’s illegal to buy a foreign lottery ticket so that’s your first red flag. Second red flag, you have to buy a ticket to win a lottery and it is then your responsibility to contact the lottery if you think you are holding a winning ticket.
Nigerian Scam Letter – This scam is as old as dirt! Well almost! They used to come in letters then as faxes late at night and now, they are e-mails. Occasionally one still gets by my spam filter. The e-mail starts off with a greeting and explanation of who they are, such as the third wife of the dead prime minister of Nigeria or an African prince without a country.
They tell you a sad story and that there are millions of dollars that belong to them but due to a bloody coup they can’t get at the money. But you, a well-respected American, can help and they will share the money with you. Just send them your bank account number and they will wire the money to you. Or they ask you for money up front to help them until they have access to their millions! Duh! Do not do it!
Same theme, you get an e-mail telling you that they are a U.S. soldier who was in Foreign Service with the United Nations Coalition Force in Iraq and is presently undergoing a medical treatment caused by bomb blast which led to amputation of his leg in the forefront of battlefield. His share of some money found is $20 million and he needs to keep the money for himself. But he needs your help and he asks you to send him some information on yourself.
Weight Loss Spam – These can come as an e-mail or they are the ads you see on your computer. No pill, cleansing regimen or patch will result in weight loss without dieting and exercise on your part. Dieting is work and losing weight is hard! Don’t give them your credit card number for a free trial sample because buried in the fine print of the contract you have just gave them the right to debit your account on a monthly basis!
Investment Scam E-Mails – These are sent promoting some unknown, little known or foreign stock or a rate of return that is better than good. Some are penny stocks urging you to buy today. They may be legitimate companies and the spammer is trying to make a buck by increasing the value of their stock. Get rich quick schemes will only make the promoters rich!
Next Of Kin – You get an e-mail as the possible next of kin from an auditor who works in the Netherlands and has just discovered that the late Morris Thompson left no heirs when he and his family were killed in a plane crash in 2000. You do some research and indeed the family was killed and upon contacting this person, he needs some funds before he can get the $18 million Euros transferred to you. Again, don’t do it!
Sales Pitches –Junk mail, spam, this is pure garbage as far as I am concerned. They are becoming more and more sophisticated and more and more annoying.