Hoaxes and Scams

Hoaxes

“Quick… forward this to everyone you know!”

Have you ever received an email that starts that way? If you have a computer and use email, instant messaging or social network sites, chances are you have received at least one of these warnings. They admonish you to forward the contents or dire consequences will follow. The contents range from missing children to stores giving away certificates to virus warnings. What do they all have in common besides the instruction to forward? Answer: They’re all false. Or, at the least, 99% false. The disclaimer at this point is to say that I have received two that were true. But it took some digging to find out if they were real.

If you are one who forwards these warnings as soon as you receive them, stop for a moment and read this page. If you were directed here by an email, please understand my purpose is not to call you stupid or berate you in any way. I am simply trying to stop the nonsense of forwarded emails by people who have no clue about what they are doing.

If I came face to face with you and told you that I was the emperor of some island nation, you would check it out as best you could before believing me, right? Why is it then that we are so willing to believe an email without checking the veracity of the email? It has something to do with believing facts presented by an authoritative source. In past generations, newspapers were the medium of choice and news reporters were under some kind of directive to be fair & balanced. They checked and re-checked their facts and sources. What they said (for the most part) could be trusted.

Now, in the internet age, we read something posted or forwarded to us and it becomes gospel truth. Especially when someone says “It was on the news yesterday.” But, did we even stop to check it out? It’s amazing how many people get duped by things on the internet.

The Sky Is Falling, also known as the Chicken Little fable is a story about a chicken who believes the sky is falling. The phrase has also become used to indicate a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.

The analogy I use to describe the forwarding of emails is the Chicken Little fable, found on the Wikipedia website. In the story, Chicken Little gets hit on the noggin by an acorn and thinks the sky is falling. She goes running around telling all her friends that the sky is falling. The moral of the story is “Don’t believe everything you hear.”

Scams

“My name is Mrs.Martha Ellis and I am one of those who took part in the Nigerian Compensation several years ago…”

So starts the letter that takes us down the rabbit hole of email scams. In my experience, the vast majority of these scams are run by Nigerians who are looking to take you for every cent they can squeeze out of you. Of course, there are scammers in every country – even those in the US who work in conjunction with these Nigerians, Romanians or Malaysians.

What you have to be careful of is believing scam letters. There will never be a payday for you. These scammers are professionals who will not send you a penny, no matter what the claim or story. The flow of money is always from you to them. Period. I hope I make myself clear on this.

We’ll be covering Nigerian 419 scams (so-called because of the Nigerian penal code prohibiting fraudulent gain) which is also known as advance fee fraud, work-at-home scams, slamming and various telephone scams.

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