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Recognizing Spam Scams Tutorial

Aug 17, 2007
Spam advertising for legitimate service and products is problematic enough. Although the issues that apply to the transmission and receipt of such spam are the same, the worst category of spam is for scams, hoaxes, and illegal schemes. Being aware of the common practices employed by spammers who are seeking to defraud you is essential to safeguarding your personal information, finances, and even your life. There are some very crooked people out there and you would be wise to stay on top of the most common schemes.

Most of us have heard of Pyramid schemes, also known as Ponzi schemes after the Italian immigrant in the 1920s who was convicted of such a ruse. This spam will come in the form of a great investment offer. It requires you to pay money for a membership, goods, or simply to "invest". You will then receive much more money in return. That money comes from those that join after you. Your payments are distributed to those that joined before you. Eventually, the pyramid collapses because there are not enough new people joining to keep the money flowing. The only one who makes out is at the top of the pyramid - the spammer. The offer may not look like a pyramid scheme. It may be a chain letter email that you forward to others. It may ask you if you want to use your computer to send advertising to email addresses that they provide, for a fee. They will promise that these are "opt-in" addresses. Do not believe it. These are spammers trying to use you to spam others and promising that you will get paid for your efforts. Pyramid schemes are illegal and any spam that you believe may be one should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

Phishing is a practice used to defraud you of private and financial information. This is spam that looks like it came from a company that you do business with, like your bank or credit card company. It will urge you to follow the link in the email to update your account. When you follow that link, it will look just like the company's website. As you log in or begin to fill out the form offered, the program is recording your keystrokes and everything is divulged. Your account numbers, user name, password, and/or social security number is now theirs. Never follow the given link in one of these emails, no matter how convenient. Simply access the website in the normal fashion in a separate window. Turn the spam over to the Federal Trade Commission if you find that it is fraudulent. There are email addresses available for the paypal scams and that email address is spoof@paypal.com

One of the most dangerous spam offers is the 4-1-9 scam, also known as the Nigerian Fee Fraud. The name 4-1-9 comes from the section of Nigerian penal code that deals with fraud schemes. The email may not reference Nigeria; instead it may purport to come from some other distant and foreign sounding country. The basics of the email are simple; you receive a badly written email from a government official, deposed ruler, or relative of a ruling family who needs your help. They have money, oil, gold, or heirlooms that they cannot access due to political reasons. If you will allow them to transfer large sums of money into your bank account, they will pay you a fee or let you keep all of it. How nice of them. All that they need you to do is give them your account number and bank transfer information, and maybe send them a fee to bribe some corrupt government official with. You will probably receive additional official looking correspondence and be asked to provide further documents, private information, and money - legal fees, of course. When they have had you on the hook long enough or believe that you may suspect that you're being duped, they will clean you out and close up shop. In 2003, a Nigerian diplomat at the Embassy in Prague was shot and killed by a Czech citizen who had been defrauded by one of these 4-1-9 schemes. As a result, the State Department issued travel advisories to Americans seeking to go abroad to reclaim their life savings. Take these emails seriously and fax them to the US Secret Service when you receive them. Hopefully, they can shut down the spammer before they dupe someone else.
About the Author
Keith Londrie II is a successful Webmaster and publisher of spam-resources.info A website that specializes in providing tips to help eliminate and avoid spam. Getting rid of spam that you can research on the internet in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home. Visit how to combat spam Today!
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