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Spotting Scams

Internet scams are nothing new but over time they have evolved into complex schemes that often involve your money and/or intellectual property. The criminals who create such scams use several different methods of contact, all of which are designed to confuse, alarm, and make the recipients feel both worried and sometimes excited. These scams are designed to prey upon the naivety of casual and new Internet users. Though email is usually the most popular method of contact for scammers many people have begun receiving the same or similar types of offers via snail mail. Not only has the sophistication of these scams matured but the frequency with which people receive them has grown at an alarming rate.

So how does one know if they’ve received such a scam? Well, there are several tell tale signs that the offer or message you’ve received isn’t on the up and up. The following are things suspicious recipients should review and consider.

Do I know this person/business? – This is the first question everyone should ask him/herself when they receive an email or offer in their mailbox that sparks suspicion. Chances are fairly low that someone whom you do not know will take the time to write to you or even consider you for any type of offer, especially when money is involved. The only people and businesses that will contact you out of the blue are those looking to gain your confidence so that they can take something from you. Legitimate business offers come only after you’ve first contacted a business about their products and services.

What does the content of the offer tell you? – The content of a suspicious mailer or email can be a dead give away and alert you to a scam. A recipient should first look to the subject line of the email to determine whether or not an email may be a scam. Subjects lines such as the following are red flags and should prompt to you delete the email immediately.

  • “From the desk of Mr. [insert any name]”
  • “Your assistance is needed”
  • “Now Is Your Chance”
  • “Message from the Director of the Bank of [insert city name]”

If the subject line of an email isn’t enough to dissuade you from reading the enclosed message, the content within the email can also be used to detect a scam. Emails containing the following should prompt you to delete the email immediately.

  • A story of a government official, bank official, or royal person asking you to help them transfer a large amount of money through using own bank account, and then rewarding you for it are always scams.
  • Look for fictitious names. Chances are if you don’t recognize their names and they claim to be important people, they don’t exist! More often than not people will claim to be a deposed African prince, the leader of 3rd world country, or other person of great importance. Chances are someone of such importance with that much money and in that much trouble or need would should make the evening news.

The scenario with offers you might receive through snail mail are a little different though their intent remains the same. Offers received from companies you’ve never heard of should be your first warning. Sure we all get junk mail from time to time, but that mail comes from established and well known businesses, such as supermarkets, banks, and advertising firms such as newspapers, or The Pennysaver. There are those mail offers however that on the surface present a very legitimate face and look very professional to boot. In scenarios such as this where the content may look legitimate, ask yourself “have I heard of this business, has anyone I know ever heard of them?”

Search The Internet/Do your homework – Regardless of whether it’s received through the mailbox in your front yard or your email box, it’s a good idea to do a quick Internet search using either the subject line of the email or one of the many names the email might mention. Generally speaking a search in Google for any of these things will result in a large number of scam alert websites and/or blogs and forums where people who have been scammed gather to share their stories. A little research through any medium will always turn up some type of results, scam or otherwise.

If it’s to good to be true – …then it probably is! If you received a mailer or an email even from a friend that claimed to offer something you’re already getting for a lower price, promised a miracle solution, or guaranteed huge sums of money you’d be leery right? Since you wouldn’t believe it if a friend sent something like that to you, why would you trust someone you know absolutely nothing about? Like 99.9% of all things in life, if it sounds to good to be true or it seems unlikely then it most likely is!

Money/Bank Accounts/Personal Information – Any mailer or email that asks for money, banking information, or personal information is a scam plain and simple. There are no exceptions to this rule and you should never give out any of that information to anyone! As soon as you see that its asking for money or personal information trash it, delete it, and forget about it.

There are also scams designed to take your money and intellectual property by using something you own to lure you into “striking a better deal” or convincing you that the services you might already be receiving are outdated and expensive. These types of scams are frequently received via snail mail though they do appear in the email boxes of many individuals. The following is an example of such a scam:

  1. An individual receives something through normal mail that says “”Are You Listed In The Search Engines”. This mailer essentially plays to those who are not tech savvy by implying that in order to be “listed” in search engines it’s going to cost the website owner money. This statement of course is completely and utterly false! To be ranked within any search engine a website need only to be live on the Internet. Of course if the owner of a website wants to be ranked in a respectable position then they will need some type of SEO services. This mailer however attempts to trick the recipient into thinking that they need to pay to be ranked in the search engines at all. If you receive such a mailer or have questions it’s best to contact Cal Coast Web Design and get the facts!
  2. The following is an example of a scam in which the scammer attempts to steal somebody’s domain name. As with any other suspicious email be very wary. Additionally you can tell it’s a scam simply by reading through the email and taking note of the various grammar and spelling mistakes. A legitimate business offer from an established company will never arrive bearing these types of mistakes! Furthermore the names mentioned in the email are not well known company names.

Dear CEO:
We are a domain name registration service company in as ia,which mainly deal with international company’s in Asia.We have something important need to confirm with you company. On Noverber 12th, 2008, we received an application formally.One company named “Nophix Inc” wanted to applying to register “elizabethlogue” as internet brand and “.CN/.ASIA” domain names. During our auditing procedure we find out that the alleged “Nophix Inc” has no trademark, Intellectual property, nor patent even similar to that word. we found that the keywords and domain names applied for registration are as same as your company’s name and trademark. one point need you to confirm:whether this alleged “Nophix Inc” is your business partner or distributor in ASIA. If so, we will complete their registration.These days we are dealing with it. If you are not in charge of this please transfer this email to appropriate dept.In order to deal with this issue better,please let someone who is responsible for trademark or domain name contact me as soon as possible.

Best Regards
Robinson Wang

So there you have it. Scams are an unfortunate evil and one that we must constantly be wary of. By doing a little sleuthing and paying close attention to the mailers and emails you receive you’ll be able to spot and avoid these types of scams. If you have any further questions about these types of scams please contact us so that we might help you!