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Internet Scams: Dont be a Victim

As the number of people using the Internet as an integral part of their daily life grows, it is inevitable that the number of Internet Scams will grow. Unfortunately there are many forms of scams but in this article we will look at three of the most prominent.

419 fraud or "Nigerian Scams"

Also known as advanced fee fraud (AFF), 4-1-9 scams are named after the section of the Nigerian penal code that deals with fraud. Although originally originating in Nigeria these scams can originate from anywhere. If you fall for one of these at best you will lose thousands of dollars; at worst you will lose your life. These usually start with an email from a bank official or the relative of a recently deceased African president or a government minister informing you that they have access to millions of dollars but need your help to get the money out of the country. The end result is that when the deal is threatened you will be asked for money to secure the release of the funds. Do not under any circumstances reply to these letters, people have been murdered while following up with these scams.

Phishing

Phishing scams can be very elaborate, scammers send out emails to millions of internet addresses purporting to be from a financial institution, and requiring you to log in and confirm your details. The email looks authentic and contains a link that you need to click. If you happen to have an account at the bank featured in the scam then it's a very natural thing to click the link and login to "your" account except it's not your account or even your bank. It will be a website setup by the scammers to extract as much information from you as possible, Name, Address Credit card details, Bank login, Password, PIN number etc. Once they have these details it is very likely that will have access to your funds and in the worse case your identity. Avoid these scams by never clicking on a link in an email like these, Banks do not sent out emails requesting you login and confirm your details.

Vehicle Sales Fraud

If you place an advert online to sell a car, boat, or motorcycle you will probably receive one of these scam attempts. You will receive an email from abroad saying that they would like to buy your vehicle and arrange shipping. Once you agree you will get a check or bankers draft in the mail within a few days for the amount you asked for the vehicle PLUS the shipping fee you will then be asked to contact the shipper and pay him the extra amount. If you are sensible you will wait for the check to clear then pass on the shipping fee. This is what the scammers expect, the check will only bounce about 3 weeks to a month later at which point your bank will take back the money leaving you short of the shipping money. The best way of avoiding this fraud is not to sell your vehicle to someone who wants to pay the shipper.

I hope all this hasn't scared you away from the Internet, If you are sensible and wary about offers that seem too good to be true then you should be Ok, just apply the same commonsense you use in everyday life, after all if a stranger walked up to you in the street and said "Hi I am from your bank what's your credit card number and PIN" would you give it to them?

Mark Thompson ran an IT consultancy in London for many years . He now live in Spain and runs an number of websites including The Income Site

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