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    Drop Down Menus Html by Vista-Butt10 Current Internet Scams:
    How to Protect Yourself

    In a world that is heavily reliant upon technology, especially the Internet, we are constantly threatened by literally thousands of online scams. Even though you may consider yourself  “e-smart,” the scammers often are looking to target those who consider themselves to be too educated to fall for a scam, as they are the least likely to put up their walls and push the scammer away. According to scambusters.org, “being smart is NOT enough to protect yourself from Internet scams.”

    According to Internet World Stats, almost 2 BILLION people use the Internet. This is a huge treasure trove for scammers, who are devoted to stealing the money identities of gullible victims.. Scams are so prevalent in today’s world that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has said that over $560 million have been lost to internet scams and fraud. In 2009 alone, the number of people who filed complaints about online scams increased by 20% to a whopping 336,655 complaints (an even greater number never even bothered to file).

    Below is a list of 10 of the most successful Internet scams. Some are extremely popular these days while others have taken the backburner to more seemingly successful scams. If you ever run into something you believe is a scam, remember the old canard: “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

    While your presence online can expose you to Internet scams, you can also use the Internet to protect yourself. Onguardonline.gov invites you to stop and think before you click and provides  useful resources to help you guard against scams. If faced with a scamming attempt, report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Complaint Center. You should report cross-border scams to econsumer.gov.

    No. 1. Mailing List Hack

    This is a scam that recently impacted the Editor of the Grapevine, although he did nothing to activate or encourage the scam and knew nothing about the scam until he got feedback from readers. Virtually no one got hurt (and any damage would have been minor), but  this case illustrates the many forms that scams can take. Here's what happened:

    A substantial number of Google e-mail accounts, including that of the Editor's previous Newsletter, were hacked by a company claiming to be “China’s Leading Electronics Wholesaler" (a red flag if there ever were one).  Marketing emails were sent to addresses on these lists in the belief that an offer gains credibility if it comes from someone known by the recipient.

    These e-mails DID NOT POSE A VIRUS THREAT, but Google determined them to be part of a fraudulent merchandising scheme. Google therefore blocked these email accounts – locking the barn AFTER the horse was stolen – requiring hacked accounts to restructure their accounts internally. This was quickly done, and the scam was immediately thwarted.

    This fraudulent email -- purportedly from me -- hyping the IPod and containing a link to the fraudulent Website -- was not sent by me.  

    The offer was so phony (from “China’s Leading Electronics Wholesaler" for a product based upon a vacuous, off-the-wall “recommendation”) that no one would actually buy the product. Yet, since some recipients did think it had been sent by me, it may have given the troubling impression to some that we were touting products.

    It seems that this scam ("stealing" an email list) is still alive and active. I just received, shortly after writing this item, an email from a fellow homeowner, Robert Ginn, which also screamed "phony." Because the language is so convoluted, we'll publish it verbatim for your "entertainment".

    Subject: dear,Good day! pdgvise!

    My dear:

    how are you? is there something special happens in your personal life?

    I'd like to share a good online shopping experience with you.

    cheng-xia1.com is a top online store. It sells brand new phones,  TV ,camera and so on. the quality is very good. I can't believe my eyes  when I receive the apple phone,

    it is really original, but only three hundred and ten dollars. it is a good store, hope you will have a look at it.

    best wishes.

    To be 100% certain, I asked Bob about its legitimacy. His response: "NO, NO and I am sorry.  Some entity has for the second time gotten into my address book and sent messages."

    This information "from the Grapevine" is one reason the website came into being, and shows the need for good communications among homeowners.

    No. 2. The Credit Card Verification

    Many people have been ripped off by this new credit card scam. It’s pretty slick in that the scammers provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want. The callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it.. By understanding how this scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself. The scam works like this:

    You get a phone call from someone who says: "This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged because of an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase a (product) for $497.99 from a (company) based in (location)?"

    When you say "No," the caller continues: "Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address). Is that correct?'"

    When you say "Yes," the caller continues : "We will be starting a fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card and ask for Security. You will need to refer to this Control Number.." The caller then gives you a 6 digit number, and then says: "Do you need me to read it again?"

    Here's the IMPORTANT part. The caller then says: "I need to verify that you are in possession of your card. Please turn your card over and look for some numbers." There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him.

    After you give the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say: 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?"

    After you say no, the caller then thanks you and states: "'Don't hesitate to call back if you do," and hangs up. You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the Card number..They don’t need to because they already have the key information they need.. What should you do? As convincing as the caller may be, never give your Security Numbers. Instead, call the credit card company directly for verification of their conversation.

    No. 3. Rogue Software

    How many times has a sudden pop-on a legitimate website informed you that your computer if infected with viruses and worms and needs to be cleaned ASAP? Many people will fall for the pop-up and then download the rogue software, usually software that looks like it is legitimate anti-virus software that promises to clean your computer of all viruses. Although this rogue software is often free, sometimes it is not -- and is planted by an unscrupulous hacker just to do damage. Surprisingly, many sophisticated people fall for this scam. Even though a victim did not lose money, his or her computer is infected with viruses, Trojans, worms, and other things that can not only ruin the computer, but can have their private information exposed to the scammers.

    Note:Some people who see an alert that their computer is infected, panic and go to extremes to ensure that the computer is fixed right away. Scammers know that many people will fall for rogue software simply because the software is right there, and there is no need to go out and buy a program or search the internet for another program that may work. This rogue software looks just like real anti-virus software, so people don’t even know the difference. It’s always best to have anti-virus software already installed on your computer. Never download software from an unfamiliar website.

    No. 4 “Free” Trials

    We’ve all seen the ads and pop-ups on certain websites that promise a free trial of some sort of product: weight-loss pills, a colon cleanser, or dieting pills. Since these products can be expensive, many people will fall for the free-trial scam. The scam starts when you have to provide your banking information to pay for shipping and handling fees. The cancellation terms are usually in very small print that most people do not notice. If  you fail to cancel your free trial within the cancellation period (usually 15 or 30 days), your debit or credit card is billed monthly. Sometimes, even after canceling, the company who has your banking information will sell it to an affiliate company who can then use it as they please. You are then on a "suckers" list.

    No. 5 Working from Home

    This scam gives the targeted victims the opportunity to work at home, using their computer as a “money-making machine” by doing very simple tasks. However, they aren’t told what these tasks are until they pay for information. They either don’t receive this information or it has nothing to do with working from home. Meanwhile they have provided the scammer with their credit or banking information and/or have installed rogue software that has ruined ther computer.

    No. 6 Disaster Relief

    Disaster relief scams are on the rise. Scammers send out emails with a link to a website that solicits donations, usually by debit or credit card. Providing this information gives the scammers access to personal information that can open doors to your financial accounts.  which could then provide them access to your money. In the end you’re out of money, some scammer has your information, and you never really donated to the real cause. Make sure you donate your money to a reliable organization, at the correct web address. If your request for a donation came through email, it’s probably a phishing

    No. 7 Online Dating

    Online dating websites have become increasingly popular. Participants set up a dating profile on websites that promise to provide access to hundreds of potential partners. Many participants are unaware, however, that their profile also gives online scammers access to them. Often, a scammer who has also joined the dating network develops a relationship with a potential victim, and then tells the victim that he or she is out of the country doing business and needs some a "temporary loan." Because the trust level is high, it 9iis easy for the victim to convince himself or herself that the request is legitimate.

    No. 8. Fake Auctions / Sales

    With the growing popularity of Websites such as eBay, Craigslist, and other auction websites, it’s no surprise that fake auctions and sales scams would start to become an issue online. Many people use these websites frequently to obtain items at a discounted price -- and often find scammers at the other end. At first, it looks like an opportunity to save money, but in the end many people lose it instead.. These fake auction and sales scams are operationally simple. The scammer creates an ad or auction on a website, stating that he has a certain item for sale, usually something that is pretty expensive to begin with, for a very low price. The scammer knows that people will jump all over this “deal” without questioning its legitimacy. This particular scam a huge success.

    Note: Craigslist and eBay have become the perfect websites to go to if you’re looking to buy items for less than they’d cost in the store. Unfortunately, many people end up regretting their decision. Of course, most auctions and online sales are legitimate, but there are enough scammers lurking in the shadows to require real caution.

    No.9. Lottery Scams

    Have you ever received an email stating that you’ve won the lottery in some other country, usually with a total of a few million dollars? These scams target people with the promise of millions of dollars, which they are told will be deposited into their bank accounts after completing a few easy steps. However, the victim must pay substantial fees before receiving the promised millions. Despite the obvious fraud , many people are still suckered in by this scam.

    No. 10.  Nigerian 419

    It's amazing how many people still fall for this scam. Targeted victims receive an email from a member of a wealthy Nigerian family, stating that he is attempting to get a very large amount of money out of the country. These emails ask for your help to get this money moved into the U.S., in return for which you may be offered a half-million dollars.

    Note: It is said that over $32 billion has been lost to this Nigerian 419 scam, surprisingly  one of the most popular today. It has been estimated that there are about 300,000 of these scammers in the world today, and the number is steadily increasing.

























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