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Modern Scams Online

Written By: Michael Medeiros

Scams on the Internet

Taking a look at common Frauds and Scams effecting the Internet

There are a variety of modern scams effecting individuals who use the internet for honest purposes. The internet has become one of the most valuable resources to modern civilization. Unfortunately, there are new crimes being committed, new scams to become familiar with, and little resources for a beginner or common user to learn about the scams people use. With some general knowledge and a cautious eye, you can keep your Internet experience friendly and enjoy the vast array of information and networking the Internet offers. There are three basic elements to keep you protected.

Email Phishing Scams

Many people that conduct frauds will utilize Email. This is very unfortunate, because Email is a very useful tool for businesses and individuals. If an offer or request is sent to you by Email, this should immediately call for caution. Use extreme caution if there are links and do not carelessly reply to Emails that you have not verified to authentic.

One of the more common scams, is referred to as, “Phishing”. This is where a scrupulous individual targets the members of a Website or Online Community. He or She will harvest Emails that users posted on advertisements or personal pages, to be contacted. Their Email message will contain identical logos, phrases, color schemes, and postal addresses, as the community they harvested the addresses.

They will generally indicate that your user account needs to be updated, and provide a link to take action. You can generally pick-these-out by analyzing the link. For example, if the site in question is www.mjmls.com, but the link provided is pointing at mjmls.something.com, it is not taking you to the Mjmls server. An individual simply named a file folder on their host, Mjmls, for the purpose of tricking users. This is referred to as a Sub-domain.

Webmasters can call a Sub-Domain anything they want. For example, we could easily make a Sub-Domain called, YourbanksName.mjmls.com. This Sub-domain could point to any folder on our server. This is similar to a Desktop Shortcut on your computer. You are free to name the Shortcut anything you want, but it will still point to the same folder within your computer.

The pages that are contained on these Sub-domains are clones. Many Scam Artists will go through great extents to make their pages look identical to the actual companies Web pages. Users may find similar graphics, logos, terminology, and addresses. In addition, they follow in unison with the Email messages that where sent. For example, they may say, Update Your Profile, on top of the page. They may even go through the trouble to have your username displayed on the page. The fraudulent pages will almost always contain a form asking you for sensitive information. If you complete the form, it will store all the details entered on their server. Now the person running the Phishing campaign can access your account at the actual site they targeted.

Phishers may ask that you provide credit card details on a fake form. This opens the doors to a whole new realm, if a user complies.

Random Phishing

It seems to me, Phishing scam artists are becoming more random. On a personal note, I have been receiving an overwhelming number of Phishing Emails that clone a bank or Credit Card Company. After analyzing several of these, it became apparent that they are utilizing simple hit-or-miss tactics.

Several of the Emails cloned a bank in which I have no connection. Because of this, I believe that the person behind the scam knows if he or she sends out enough Phishing messages, they will find customers of the Bank or Credit Card Company. These are big names in Banking that are being targeted (Bank of America, Citi, Capital One, etc). My address was not harvested through the Banks Website, as I do not belong to the Bank.

Several of these messages went to the extreme of saying my account may have been compromised. They indicated that I need to update my profile with the bank. One afternoon, I decided to follow one of the links, just to see what the scam artist was doing. As suspected, when the page opened there was a simple form. It asked for my full name (as indicated on my credit card). In addition, it asked for my old password, and provided a space to enter the new password of my choice (How nice of them). It had a space to enter my 16 digit Credit Card Number, and asked for the three digit pin number on the back of the card. I hate to think of how many credit cards this individual may have gained access to with this Phishing Campaign.

I forwarded the message to the Bank that was in question. A tip, almost all online businesses have an Abuse department. They can generally be reached at abuse@CompanyName.com.

Money Laundering Scams

There are many people, in this world, that need to clean dirty money. Unfortunately, the Internet has also opened new doors for these people to accomplish the task. However, this can easily be done to anyone selling an item, regardless of being online or in the local News Papers Classifieds.

These scams seem to be common among the Middle East Countries, but are also within the United States, England, Canada, and several other European Countries. They take a more direct and personal approach, without the need for personal information.

These individuals will generally target high dollar items that are for sale. This includes Automobiles, Boats, Campers, and Motorcycles. High dollar items are an easy way to launder a large sum of money. In addition, titled property can be sold in the future for a loss, or simply resold.

If you have a high dollar item for sale, these individuals will generally provide an, off the wall, story about having a substantial amount of money in a foreign bank account. They seem to always mention, they are from a foreign country. The potential buyer asks the seller if he or she would accept a bank drawn check from another country. Their offers are generally much higher than the asking price, and may include money for transport services of the item being sold. We have had messages pass through www.Mjmls.com that asked the seller of an item to return a personal check for $20,000 + dollars, as a refund to an over-payment.

While their intentions are obvious to most, a distressed seller may be eager to get rid of their property and abide to the launderers offer. In most cases, the seller will find they are in trouble with the Authorities, later down the road. The best way to avoid this is to only do business with individuals that do not make strange requests, and reside in the same country.

High Dollar Shipping Scams

These scams are similar to the apparent laundering scams. However, in the end the seller finds that he or she lost a significant amount of money. Once again, the seller is contacted by an individual that is from a foreign country. The proposed buyer advises the seller that they have arrangements with an approved shipping company to transport the item being sold.

How this scam works? Take for example, an Automobile that is being sold for $20,000. The proposed buyer tells the seller that shipping, with insurance, would cost approximately $2,500. Therefore, the proposed buyer will pay the seller $22,500 on a foreign bank drawn check.

In most cases the seller will modestly accept their full price offer. Most people would try and haggle a few dollars off the top. As promised, the seller receives their modest payment for the Automobile, and makes arrangements to transport the Automobile with the, Approved, transportation service.

The sellers bank may indicate that the money has been deposited and the funds are available to him or her. Shortly following, the honest seller receives an invoice for the shipment of the Automobile, in the amount of $2,500. He or she pays the bill as promised. The invoices generally require the seller to send the money through Wire-Transfer. This ensures prompt payment for their service.

After a few weeks pass, the seller is notified that the Buyers check did not clear. Meanwhile, the seller no longer has the Automobile that was for sale. In addition, he or she has lost $2,500 for shipping the high dollar item overseas.

Keeping it safe online

Always remember, there are individuals that want your information for a reason other than to provide a service to you. If you are being asked for sensitive data, ask yourself, did I come to this page from an Email? If you did not physically type in the URL to the Site, someone may be Phishing for your information.

When it comes to selling items online, be alert to strange requests. Selling an item is fairly easy. If the buyer is making things complicated, they may have other motives. Question them. If dealing with a foreign individual, make sure you have in writing, from your bank, the funds are in your account and the check has cleared. Protect yourself in all areas of the transaction by asking for confirmation in writing.

About The Author

Michael Medeiros is the Owner of http://www.mjmls.com/ offering a free marketplace for the United States. Due to the increasing threat of online frauds, he has begun investigating transactions through the Mjmls Classifieds and conducting research on internet Frauds. If you should have any comments or concerns regarding this article, or wish to offer some insight on fraudulent activity you experienced, please visit the Mjmls Frauds and Scams Community Forum http://forums.mjmls.com/News-Column-35.html

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