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The International Writers Magazine: Internet Honesty

You Have Won the First Prize of one Million Dollars
Norman A. Rubin
(One serious drawback of the Internet and of e-mail is that it makes it quite easy for nefarious villains to steal your money and your identity.)

Time and time again when I coursed the mouse to my e-mail site I would find notices of riches beyond my wildest dreams. There in black and white was a notice from the Yemen National Lottery that I had won the top prize in the weekly draw of a million dinars. Only yesterday I got notice from the Thailand National Lottery that I had won the first prize of two million bahts. Miracles never cease as for the love of me, as I had never bought tickets in those and other lotteries, except in the National Lottery of Israel, which distributes funds to community centers, libraries and other worthwhile institutions.

Riches piled up in my e-mail. Somehow I was asked to participate in some scheme promoted by the African scam with such ridiculous offers so laughable that it is impossible for any one to believe their spiel – riches buried in the jungle of the Dark Continent, bank accounts in London banks that need a signature to claim. I even got a marriage proposal from a dusky widow promising me upon tying the knot partnership in her late husband’s lucrative import-export business.

Then, there was message that came out of the blue telling me that my rich uncle who lived in a monastery in Tibet included me in his will and the sum left behind for his heirs was enormous. Off course I won money in casino Internet games even though I never laid down a bet. And there was that message that flashed on the screen ‘that I was the umpteenth person to enter a site. Press the button to receive your prize!’

But luck is still on my side, as my e-mail goes through Google gmail, which dumps all my scam mail in a junk mail category. All I have to do is enter this site, scan the junk and then with my little pinkie press the ‘delete’ key. The I receive the joyous message ‘Hooray no scam in here’!

’’A sucker is born every minute!" – P.T. Barnum

Yet despite endless warnings we still read of innocent people being tricked out of their life’s savings, or ending debt-ridden. These unfortunate people never seemed to realize that the main purpose of these scam messages could and does cheat one of all they possess; they can befuddle victims and obtain your bank details so they can deposit your fortune. These scam artists can effectively and free of charge, send thousands of bogus messages of all sorts around the world; and it only a tiny percentage of the recipients fall for their tricky deals and offers, they have made a fortune. The rely on gullibility of certain individuals even though the minds of their victims telling them to be cautious, but then the suckers like to think that maybe this is the exception and it is really true.

There is no end to the trickery used by scam artists in their attempt to cheat a victim.
For example, new methods are employed by them to obtain your bank account number and password. There is the e-mail from your own bank telling of a technical problem accessing your account and they fear someone is fraudulently accessing your account and that your imminent answer is required for the steps to be taken. This letter that is supposedly from your bank but it is not from your bank. The scam artists simply uses a name of a bank and sends out thousands of messages and the law of averages they are going to get quite a few persons who have an account in said bank. The message that follows details a fictitious legal problem; then they will ask you to verify your account number, password and other details. This kind of fake e-mail can come from legitimate enterprise like Sears, E-bay, America Online, etc. and will be written in somewhat official messages. Just a bit of caution will prevent you from falling into such a trap – you should know that legitimate web sites and your bank never ask for such information through the e-mail. If in doubt contact directly your bank or the company quoted in the e-mail address.

According to the advice of the Anti-Pishing Group, which is as follows. "When it comes to avoiding e-mail phishing scams, a term used in the workings of such villains, experts warn that consumers should treat all unsolicited e-mail with a healthy dose of scepticism and simply delete from their e-mail systems. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, located on the Web at’ - phishing scammers use fake e-mail addresses, instant messaging, Trojan schemes, and links to phony Web sites to trick consumers into divulging such personal information as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, and financial account usernames and passwords."

There others schemes, too numerous to mention.... For information just contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation ‘http: //’ and get e-mail updates when new scam schemes and warnings are posted there. The U.S. Secret Service has issued advisory regarding scammers as far away as Nigeria, Guyana and the Ivory Coast (the so-called "Nigerian" schemes") - but here is a more useful and recent one:

You can avoid being a victim of a scam or virus by taking the following precautions:
1) Install reliable anti-virus software and keep it updated.
2) Install a spam-filter on your e-mail site.
3) Never, and I do repeat, never send any important/ secret/sensitive/pertinent information through the e-mail directly. Legitimate financial commercial institutions have adopted precautionary methods and they advise their usage when you are asked for pertinent information.
4) If somehow you receive a notice in your e-mail requesting such information, always check independently by accessing their Web site to identify the sender.
5) A word of warning – Fortunes are not given away on the Internet – but fortunes, mainly yours, can be easily lost.
6) Don’t, by all means, open any attachments, even from people or institutions you know, unless you have verification that the e-mail was sent by them.
7) Don’t be fooled by tear jerking chain letters. Delete them immediately.
8) If you have any doubt about the veracity of anything sent you on your e-mail check and recheck before your open any message and respond to it.

Remember - If you suspect you are a victim of fraud through an e-mail scam, consult a legal professional and collect all tangible evidence of damages. Keep in mind that fraud is not easily proven in a court of law, although the court of public opinion may be squarely on your side.

© Norman A Rubin November 2008

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