Nigerian 419 Still Going Strong

With the birth of the internet has also come the birth of the internet scam. There are as many different internet scams as there are internet users, and many of them seem very convincing.

One of the most ubiquitous, and oldest, of internet scams is the Nigerian Get Rich Quick scam.

The Nigerian Get Rich Quick scam takes many forms, but is most often done under the guise of having a Nigerian relative or official who has passed away and has left inheritance. The scammer sends an e-mail (generally poorly worded and in broken English) that names the person who has just died and that he or she is the executor of the estate. The executor of the estate requests that you send an e-mail in reply acknowledging receipt of the e-mail. Once the e-mail is replied to, a second e-mail is sent out requesting personal information from the recipient of the inheritance.

Nigerian 419 Scam - Not A Way to Get RichUsually the e-mail requests such things as name, date of birth, address, contact phone number, etc. Up until this point, the scam seems fairly legitimate, except, perhaps, that the recipient is not aware that he or she has a Nigerian relative.

The e-mail following the second e-mail is generally the one that tips off even Internet newcomers that there is a scam. The e-mail requests that the beneficiary send money to Nigeria for the will to be completely processed. Often, the e-mail stipulates that the estate is frozen until money is repaid to debtors. Usually the executor requests that the money be sent via Western Union money transfer, though he may also accept a money order, usually, cheques are not accepted.

Once the supposed beneficiary sends out the money, they are promised they money in a cheque sent to the address provided. Sometimes, a fraudulent cheque is sent, and other times there is no cheque at all. If the ‘beneficiary’ tries to send a subsequent e-mail asking where their money is, more often than not, the e-mail address will have been inactivated, and they will realize that they have been scammed.

This summary is only an example of one form of the Nigerian Get Rich Quick scam. Sometimes, it takes the form of having won the Nigerian Lottery, another version of the scam occurs on dating websites. Sometimes, on dating websites, Nigerians will request money to relocate to the United States, or to maintain an internet connection. There is often a promise to pay you back with money from an inheritance, or lottery winnings etc.

With the advent of better spam filters that come with modern security packages, these scam e-mails will now often not ever reach your inbox. However, spam filters will not always filer every e-mail and there are some rules of thumb to avoid getting scammed.

First, unsolicited e-mails are always suspicious, especially ones written in very broken English.

Second, paying money to get money is almost always indicative of a scam.

Thirdly, always deal locally; avoid sending money, or dealing with people who are from overseas, or ever people from different states. Laws vary from country to country, state to state, and even city to city, the closer you stay to your home, the less likely you are to get scammed. And if you do get scammed, you have more recourse with local scams that foreign ones.

So, with a little forethought, you can avoid getting scammed, and make your money only fall into the right hands.

BTW if anybody wants to enjoy seeing the scammers being scammed then go take a look at 419Eater.

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Work At Home Scams

Today's economy is officially sending thousands, possibly even millions, of potential workers to the internet to find a work-at-home job. These job seekers include people recently laid off, people searching for a supplemental income, stay-at-home mothers and fathers who are wanting to contribute to the household.

Uncle Scam Needs YOUR MoneyIt is a perfect breeding ground for scams, it would seem. You can't expect ScamBusters or the myriad of other scam registry sites to pick up and get everything, though. There is always a chance that this scam is new and not been recorded yet.

Among my favorite tell-tale signs, however, include those sites that promise you that you can make a thousand dollars in overnight. Actually, I search the internet and look through them just to compare and contrast in the creativity. I am especially fond of the folks who copy-paste the image of the e-check for $2,652.30 and grab stock images probably found on Google, and then copy-paste “reviews,” often starting with the priceless “I'm not usually one to leave a review, but Product X is the greatest thing to ever happen to me!”.

Now, there are several places that these are legitimate (aside from the apparently stock image of the e-check for $2,652.30) and are just trying to pull people in with atypical results, though odds are they are not as autopilot as they want you to believe. Now, I don't know how to break this to you all, but…THIS IS A SCAM IN ITSELF! We call it “false advertising.” To my knowledge, the only person who makes that kind of money is the creator of the system.

Google Money Tree - One of Many ScamsIf this comes off cynical, this is because I am a member of several email newsletters that have been circulating from the leaders of the Google Money System circuit. Unfortunately, no names will be given, but I assure you that you've run into them once or twice. The best way I can think of to keep yourself from scams would be to avoid the any of the Money System, Google Cash, Money Tree etc, no matter how hilarious the emails they come with are.

I can guarantee you that a vast majority of them are scams and are not worth your money. You may be able to make the cover charge back in…oh, two years, maybe? If the package arrives at all?

Also, have you ever noticed that the pages that you are putting personal information into are not https? Think about that for a minute. That's right, you're not on a secure site. Anyone can find your information. To avoid scams, I would suggest joining a group such as Work At Home Moms. They always keep a sharp eye out for scams and will make sure that their group will not get associated with such a debacle. The customer service there is also top notch. If you have any questions, they will be sure to have them answered shortly. Job searchers, get your resumes ready to post!

You don't need someone to distract you with instant results and bright colors to get your income!

Honest work is the best policy!

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e-Whore – The 21st Century ‘Lady’ of the Night

E-whoring is a term that refers to a new brand of money-making schemes on the web. Most people know now not to listen to mass emails from Nigerian Princes or banks promising them money if they help them, but new and more subtle forms of money scams have emerged.
If you or someone you know has fallen subject to an e-whore you are more familiar with this phenomenon. Perhaps you think you know enough not to get fooled again. Still, educate yourself and read as much as possible, and don’t stop reading this. You never know if you could get fooled in a new and different way.
If you have never, as far as you know, fallen prey to an internet e-whore scam then this information is still more important than you might think. Nobody is airtight and the internet is far from a secure place, with billions of users and very little security.
E-whores will try to get or earn money from someone interested in meeting or talking to someone but will appear so attractive and deceptive that you might just let them walk away with your money.
Still not convinced? It could happen far more easily than you think. If I could be obvious for one second, never let anyone have your credit card number. Everyone knows this, everyone has heard this, and likely you know too. But also don’t give out your credit card number to verify who you are.
What? Don’t be insulted. Scammers will hide behind what looks like credible-looking sites rather than asking outright for your credit card number. These sites may claim or appear not to charge you and may even seem like real companies but once they have your number the small print will kick in. Commonly the small print will read that unless you do something your credit card will be charged $XX in the next 3 days. The tasks that you need to do change, however in some cases these tasks include submitting your credit card to several different sites. These sites will have a similar scheme going on and you will be facing even greater charges.
 E-whores love to troll dating sites and pretend to be interested in you. Sure, she looks pretty. Um, he.  S/he will tell you she doesn’t like to use this site and to sign up for her favourite social/networking or possibly a  xxx site. It requires a credit card to sign up, but offers a free trial that you can cancel before it charges you. If you give your credit card number, you will soon find that they are charging large monthly membership amounts and are impossible to cancel.
Yay.
Okay, so you stop giving out personal information on the internet. What about taking it? Seems idiot proof enough, doesn’t it? Pretty “ladies” on dating sites will often give out cell numbers and say they are never on the computer but would really love to meet you! If you text these numbers you will be automatically signed up for a monthly service and charged a fee every month that you cannot cancel.
This give a whole new meaning to “do not talk to strangers”.
Another expensive lesson learned. The third method you won’t notice is a pay-per-click link. It doesn’t cost you any money to click on the ad, but it does make the pretty lady some money, in the form of an advertiser paying pennies per click on a link the “e-whore” posts on every website, forum, and yes, your dating profile, and so benefits them to pose as an attractive lady that you really would like to get to know better.
I am always telling you to hide your online identity with software, but in this case software will not help. You must always remember that people are out there to con you, there are software packages available for sale which automate much of this process. So the lovely s/he you are falling for could quite possibly not even be human…
Oh and no Ivan has not been caught out!
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The Fake Review Site Scam

Dont always believe online reviewsThe internet has opened a whole new avenue for marketing of products. E-business volumes have gone up significantly and with the proliferation of the internet these will increase many times over in the future. The internet apart from creating a marketing opportunity has enabled a lot of creative means to market products.

Initially it was just plain vanilla marketing, and then came in the online procurement and payment systems. Along with this came the process of evaluation of the products. Forums were created to discuss the products etc. If done with a good intent this would have been excellent way of letting the consumer make a right decision based on the actual inputs and feedback from other consumers. Unfortunately, the internet has huge disadvantage of being anonymous and as a result this facility can be misused in wither promoting a product or vice versa.

In many cases, it could be that there is a cabal formed by affiliates who can post very positive reviews about a product which can lead a potential customer to believe about the product based on the feedback only to understand later when they actually receives the product.

Can this be curbed? Not really.

However there can be other checks and balances that a potential consumer can put to use. Post queries in forums that are not managed by the site that you are referring to. Check the trend of the responses. If you find all positives with very little negative inputs then you need to find out be extra careful and cautious so as to make additional checks. Also try to find patterns in the language, the date of the posting and such other pointers as these could sometime give away these aspects quite blatantly.

Additionally, try finding out feedback from other websites which may sell a competing product as there could be a reference available about the product that you are looking for. Use other set of data pointers like whether the company is a listed and reputed brand, its existence, your ability to check out the product at a local store, the place from where the company is conducting its business, the mode of payment etc.

One must not be carried away by the fact that this is internet marketing. After all it is human and therefore there has to be caution exercised.

Another aspect to be borne in mind is the information available on the internet has not reached a point where it can be easily used in a court of law for mis-representation as the marketers could always claim that they were not aware of the person who posted that information. It will take time for cyber laws to evolve, and it is doing so slowly.

If you cannot make a decision, then you may choose not to buy it. It is better to buy a known product for a few dollars more than buying something worthless and repenting. It is better to be safe than sorry. In summary, whatever the checks and balances, the maxim – Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware prevails and products sold on the internet are no exception.

Happy online shopping!!
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Protect Your Identity – Don’t Be Scammed

Internet Scams Are EverywhereThe internet provides a whole host of opportunities that were not available just a short time ago. One less desirable opportunity that has become a part of using the internet is coming into contact with unscrupulous people who are using the internet to rip people off.

And there is no shortage of opportunities to be ripped off if a person is not careful!

So to avoid being ripped off you have to make every effort fend off the many rip off artists that now prowl the net. There are some basic steps that you can be taken to protect yourself from internet rip off scams.

The first step to take is to make sure that you have a current version of a comprehension antivirus, anti spam, anti spyware program loaded on all computers that you use to access the internet. The cost of the program verses the risk and likelihood of attack is very good. The average software package can be purchased for fifty to sixty dollars.

The second step to take is to develop some routines that you follow when using the internet. Never go to a website that you are not certain is safe. Good  antivirus protection software such Trend Micro will flag sites that are potentially being used to scam and rip people off. If that warning comes up do not progress onto that page.

Trend Micro Internet Security 2010

Next if a website requests personal information without good reason, do not give out the information. The only site that you want to give personal information to is a site that you have contacted to do business with. If you haven’t contacted the site for the purpose of making a purchase or doing some kind of internet activity such as playing a game do not fill out anything that requests your personal information.

The next step to take is to avoid giving information in response to confirmation requests. Your bank or online payment website or online auction site will not request that you give personal information in response to an email. They will ask you to visit their site and update it. Scam artists are sending requests to confirm information for all kinds of different types of accounts including credit cards, online payment sites, bank accounts, college financial information, or anything else that might contain personal information.

Protect Yourself From ScamsAnother key step you can take to protect yourself is to avoid websites that are typically used for scamming.

Many different types of websites tend to be favorites for scammers.

Any website that offers you something for free in exchange for taking a survey that includes personal information should be avoided. Sites that offer adult content and sites that offer video games that you can play are also favorites of the scammer.

Both are addictive type sites that can catch you in a weak moment and steal your personal information. Another ploy that scammers use is dating and singles websites. The scammer will try to make a personal connection in order to build trust that leads to the theft of your personal information.

A little caution can go a long way in protecting oneself while on the internet. The reality is that you do not have to be ripped off. Many online scams these days are so well put together people don’t realise they were scammed even after the event!

We will take a look at some popular scams over the next few weeks.

Getting ripped off is not mandatory.
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Windows 7 – Improved Security?

When Microsoft debuted Windows Vista on January 30th, 2007 it was clear that they had made online security one of their top priorities with this operating system. In fact, Windows Vista was the most secure Microsoft operating system to date.

So how did the Microsoft team approach the security issue when they decided to create Windows 7? Well first, they decided to take into consideration suggestions from Vista users to see what they could possibly improve with their online security features. These suggestions allowed the programmers to make the system more user friendly when it came to the security features.

Microsoft developed Windows 7 according to the Security Development Lifecycle (SDL). The goals of SDL are to minimize the number of security related design and coding defects, and to reduce the harshness of the defects that remain. This alone doesn’t make the system unique from Vista, as Vista was also developed according to the SDL. But seeing how Vista’s online security features were Microsoft’s best yet, it was clear that Windows 7 needed to be molded from that version.

Along with implementing the SDL into this new system, Microsoft also included such Vista key security features as Data Execution Prevention (DEP), Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR), Kernel Patch Protection, and Mandatory Integrity Levels.

So now you’re scratching your head asking yourself, “Then what makes this operating system special? Looks like it is just Windows Vista repackaged with a new look and name, but same security features.”

Though it’s true Windows 7 shares some of the same features as Vista on the security standpoint, it is also fair to say that some of those same features have been tweaked a little, improving their performance and reliability. Such as the Enhanced UAC you will find with Windows 7.

The UAC, or User Account Control, gives the administrators more power over what features and applications to grant access to when it comes to certain guest users and employees. UAC is what controls those pesky, annoying security prompts that you see pop up from time to time. Vista users gave this feature some heavy negative feedback, thus forcing Microsoft to re-think the way this feature works. They have worked out all the kinks and have reduced the number of applications and operating system tasks that trigger the prompts. Now if you access User Accounts in the Control Panel you can even adjust this feature to your liking and customize it to fit your own security needs.

Everyone knows you need more than just a password these days to protect yourself and your computer. Heck, nowadays most web sites require that you make your password at least so many letters long, include so many numbers, and on top of that you not only have to create a security question and password but also pick a picture from a series of graphics to be tied to your account. Windows 7 actually upped the ante when it comes to password protecting your computer. They have implemented better driver support and more reliable fingerprint reading across different hardware platforms. So now you don’t have to worry about some computer hacker logging into your computer to access all of your important files because if you have fingerprint access enabled on your computer, no one but you can get into your computer.

Windows 7 preserves Vista's data-protection technologies, such as EFS (Encrypting File System) and support for AD RMS (Active Directory Rights Management Services). Microsoft tinkered with those technologies to make them perform a little better, and they notably improved on Vista's BitLocker drive encryption technology, and it adds BitLocker to Go for encrypting data on separable media. You see, Windows vista was capable of protecting the volumes and drives that were part of the computer, but it could not do the same for removable drives. That’s part of the reason Windows 7 differs from Vista in that it is capable of protecting all of the files on your removable drives with BitLocker to Go. It’s a nice feature that will surely add more needed protection to your important files which you may keep on things such as Floppies, Jump Drives, or disc.

Also, with BitLocker to Go, administrators can block anyone from adding information to their removable files or even from removing information if those files are accessed. BitLocker requires Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip to store BitLocker encryption keys and smooth the progress of the encryption and decryption of the BitLocker-protected data. Many desktops and laptops do not come with a TPM chip, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for you and your internet safety. Microsoft has included the option to use BitLocker Drive Encryption without a compatible TPM, though it’s not a cake walk in order to access it. Though the lack of a TPM chip can create a small road block, it can be overcome.

So in closing I must say that I am very impressed with the online security features within Windows 7. Like I discussed above, the final product does mimic Vista in the features implemented within the operating system, but most of those features have been slightly modified in order to offer the Windows user a safer and easier way of obtaining protection when surfing the net.

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Protecting Your Online Privacy By Using Encrypted Connections though Proxy Servers

Too many people take it for granted that what they do online is private and protected, but the truth is that most people have data that is vulnerable, all too ready for sophisticated people to capture.

Even people who work on private networks are at risk, but for those using public networks the risk is even greater. Keeping data secure is crucial for anyone who wants to avoid the damaging loss of personal or critical business information.

The simple act of hitting “Reply” on an email is task fraught with risk.

There are many safe guards that can be put in place, but one of the most secure ways to protect your online privacy is by using encrypted connections when working through a private proxy server.

Encryption, in terms of moving information, is the process by which data is put through a complex algorithm which makes it unreadable to anyone who does not have the key to decrypt it. Encryption can be used to protect data on computers and storage devices and is the first round of defense for those wanting to keep their personal data private when working online.

Another weapon in the arsenal of those wanting to protect their online privacy is the use of a private proxy server. A proxy server is a computer or application that serves as go-between for information requests between servers. Requests can be for information such as a web page, a file download, or other services and these are made through a proxy server rather than connecting directly to the server that houses the actual data.

The proxy server has two primary purposes, one is to maintain anonymity of the computer behind it for security reasons and the other reason is to speed access to a data resource.

There are numerous types of proxy servers including a caching proxy, a reverse proxy, a tunneling proxy, and a content filer proxy server. All of these different type servers provide different functions and features.

Many public proxy servers will accept unencrypted information and this can create a security risk because the data could be collected and thus make it vulnerable. It is important that those who use proxy servers know the integrity of the proxy servers they connect to, which is why the use of a private proxies with a good reputation is advised.

In some cases, malicious proxy servers have been intentionally set-up to record all unencrypted data and this data can later be harvested and used by those that have captured it. The key to protecting your personal data is encryption and this applies whether you are on a private or public network and specifically when accessing data through a proxy server. Using an encrypted connection can provide a great line of defense against internet hackers who employ packet sniffers and other sophisticated means of capturing private data.

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