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RE: Due Diligence Most of us think of hype as exaggerated or extravagant claims, made especially in advertising or promotional material. Sometimes it is deceptive and deliberately misleading. While we have become a bit immune to this through constant exposure, it always seems that someone comes up with a fresh approach that is not immediately recognized. Con artists have been around since the beginning of time, and are always willing to take advantage of another "hot prospect". But every scam has "red flags" and a little common sense should prevail so you do not fall prey to them.
(Click here to see some of the current FBI scam warnings!)
Let's examine a few we get by email everyday.
"Complimentary Vacation Package" - this one has been around a long time, but has now found its way to the web. It starts off with "Congratulations! You will be our guest in Orlando, Florida, home of Walt Disney World, for 4 days and 3 nights. All compliments of major Vacation Resort Developers." Reading it, you might feel you have won a contest. In actuality, this is not the case. It is a high pressure sales campaign designed to sell you a "timeshare"
vacation package. We personally have our own timeshare vacation sites
and some like (what you can see here at) ours are great
while others definitely are a pass!!
Another variation promises deeply discounted vacation packages. You pay for a package that seems great on the surface, but in reality is either third rate accommodations or doesn't exist at all. "Guaranteed Winner" - they state - "You're going to get one of these top five prizes, guaranteed!" In this scam you normally send some information, and either return it by email or fill out a form on a web site. They require that you supply your telephone number to be eligible. You will then be contacted by a telemarketer who confirms that you have been chosen for one of the five "valuable" prizes; however, you must pay a processing fee for handling, customs duties or taxes, and you must send a check or money order to them by overnight mail. The prize usually winds up being small trinkets of minimal value, discount coupons or vouchers, worth far less than what you paid. Or, you might receive an e-mail informing you that your order has been received and processed, and your credit card will be billed for the charges. The trouble is, you haven't ordered anything. They contacted you using bulk email, using inactive return addresses which prevent you from refuting the orders by email. They do provide a telephone number in the area code 767, which is actually in the West Indies. They try to keep callers on the line as long as possible, and you are reportedly billed as much as $25 per minute. Be aware that your local telephone company may bill for services provided by other companies, and not be able to provide you relief. Another current scam floating about the web offers you a cut of stolen money from Nigeria that was stolen and they need your help getting the money out of the country. They of course want a cut of the money that they claim will be wired to your personal bank account. You of course are expected to pay them their share up front. The money however never arrives in your bank. One group sends hundreds of thousands of unsolicited emails to people directing them to web sites promoting the Mega$Nets and MegaResource programs. When you visit one of their web sites you can download copies of the software program which contains a list of five names and addresses. The software program and web sites direct you to send twenty dollars to each of five people listed in the software in order for you to get yourself placed at the top of the list of names. This is simply a variation of the old fashioned chain letter. Actually, there are a lot of chain letters floating about the web and all should be avoided. Another email promises guaranteed Credit Card approval! One group offered Visa cards to the credit-challenged "to put you back in the mainstream of financial life in high style" at an interest rate of only 4.9%. How? Through the magic of using offshore banks in tax haven countries. There is however a $100 processing fee and $25 per month charge regardless of use. Some people really believe that they have been selected to be in the Internet Version of "Who's Who". This one started years ago and was sent to every company executive in the country - They will include your listing at no charge - oh, would you like a copy? "Send $98 to us and it will be delivered to your doorstep." There is no way to adequately cover all the scams that permeate the web. Before jumping into any of these "make a million while you sleep" plans, use a little "due diligence" and check them out. The money you save will be your own. This article written By Bob Osgoodby About The Author Did you know that subscribers to Bob Osgoodby's Free Ezine the "Tip of the Day" get a Free Ad for their Business at his Web Site? Great Business and Computer Tips - Monday thru Friday. Instructions on how to place your ad are in the Newsletter. Subscribe at:
Some of the other cases filed with the FTC: In a case that generated more than 1,200 consumer complaints to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel database, the FTC asked a district court to halt the defendants' unauthorized billing and collection for videotext services purportedly accessed on the Internet. According to the FTC, the defendants use a modem dialing program to disconnect consumers from their own Internet service providers and reconnect them to the scammers' network without the consumers' authorization or approval. Using the dialing program, the defendants then capture the telephone number used by the modem, and match it against several databases of line subscriber information, which frequently contain errors. The line subscribers identified as responsible for the captured telephone number later receive bills charging them $4.99 a minute for each minute the defendants claim videotext services were purchased, regardless of whether the line subscribers authorized the purchase. The FTC alleges that many consumers never visited the defendants' sites at all, and were charged due to billing service errors of which the defendants were aware. Furthermore, according to the FTC, the defendants' dialing program downloads onto consumers' computers without their authorization. The FTC coordinated the investigation of this case with the offices of numerous state attorneys general, and with the invaluable assistance of the New Jersey Attorney General; the Georgia Attorney General; the Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs; the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; the Illinois Attorney General; and the Idaho Attorney General. One Web-based scam targeted college-bound students and their parents. For a fee of $895, the defendants pledged to procure 100 percent of the funding students would need to attend college. In fact, they procured no money for the students. Instead, they provided consumers with readily available scholarship information that consumers could have obtained free. Two different cases against participants in an e-mail chain letter scheme that promised participants significant earnings, pledged that the scam was legitimate, and urged recipients to contact the FTC's Associate Director for Marketing Practices, who they claimed would vouch for the legality of the illegal schemes. The FTC stopped the illegal schemes, and settlements with the defendants bar them from participating in illegal chain e-mail schemes in the future. One Web-based scam claimed that consumers who paid a one-time fee of $49.95 were guaranteed to receive a "100% unsecured" VISA or MasterCard credit card with a credit limit up to $5,000.00. Consumers who clicked on the "Claim your card NOW," icon on the Web site and entered their checking account information received a confirmation page or e-mail that typically stated, "Approved! Congratulations! Your membership has been approved." In fact, according to the FTC, what consumers received was access to a Web page containing hyperlinks to various companies that purportedly issue credit cards -- a list of hyperlinks that would have been available free to consumers who used a search engine. A scheme used spam and Web sites to market a "100% Legal and Legitimate" work-at- home envelope stuffing opportunity. Using deceptive information in the "from" line of their e-mail, the defendants represented that they were affiliated with well-known entities, such as Hotmail and MSN. Marketing materials promised consumers that they would earn $1 for each envelope they stuffed, and could earn as much as $1,500 a week stuffing envelopes supplied by the defendants. What consumers received for their $50 fee was a set of instructions to market a deceptive credit-repair manual. A third work-at-home scheme, called "Instant Internet Empires," touted the money making potential of five pre-packaged Internet businesses, promising that buyers could make more than $115,000 a year using the product. The defendants told consumers that the product would enable them to make money while they sleep. What consumers received for their $47.77 investment was the right to reproduce the defendants' advertising Web site and try to resell its contents to other consumers. To achieve the promised $115,000 in earnings, consumers each would have to sell the product to 2,400 additional consumers, who would each need to sell to 2,400 additional consumers to achieve the same earnings, and so on. According to the FTC, by the third generation of the scheme, participants would need to make a total of 13,829,760,000 sales, more than twice the earth's population, for each of them to achieve the advertised earnings. In fact, many purchasers failed to make even one sale after months of trying. Another Web-based scheme was filed under seal. The seal had not been lifted by press time. In addition to the FTC cases, 11 other federal and state law enforcers brought 37 law enforcement actions. The agencies include the Attorneys General of Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas; the United States Attorneys for the District of New Mexico, the Western District of Louisiana, and the Northern District of Texas; the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Securities and Exchange Commission; Texas State Board of Pharmacy; and the Texas Department of Health. THERE IS A INTERNATIONAL EFFORT TO REDUCE DECEPTIVE SPAM In addition to the law enforcement actions, the FTC and 17 other consumer protection and law enforcement agencies initiated an effort to cut down on deceptive spam by urging organizations to close "open relays." Open relays allow third parties to route their e-mail through servers of other organizations, thereby disguising the real origin of the e-mail. Spammers identify and use other organizations' open relays to avoid detection by the spam filter systems used by internet service providers to protect their customers from unwanted spam. Routing spam through open relays also makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track down deceptive spammers. Fifty law enforcers from 17 agencies identified 1,000 potential open relays, 90 percent of which were in 16 countries: U.S., China, Korea, Japan, Italy, Poland, Brazil, Germany, Taiwan, Mexico, Great Britain, Chile, France, Argentina, India, Spain, and Canada. The agencies drafted a letter which was translated into 11 languages and signed by 14 different US and international agencies, urging the organizations to close their open relays and help reduce spam. "Law enforcement is not the only way to tackle spam problems," said Beales. "Through this education initiative, we hope organizations throughout the world will shut the door on unwanted spam by securing their servers."
Here are particularly good web sites that can HELP you in various matters:
The FTC has a Web site
to combat spam and has developed a publication, "Open Relays - Close the Door on Spam,"
to encourage businesses, consumers, academic institutions and others to close open relays. To find out more go to
the open relay FTC project.
Most of you have been hearing alot about IDENTITY THEFT both in the NEWS
and general conversation. There is alot to learn just by going to this years info on
ID THEFT .
Be extremely aware that 'BAD' people are trying to
get you to reveal information about youself "Phishing"
for information about you so they can get your $$
A very simple and economical way to protect yourself is to not just
check you credit report monthly, but have someone also be able
to represent you in both prosecution and restoration of you identity.
Identity Theft is the fastest growing crime in America today.
Would you know what to do if it happened to you?
Find a company where you'll have experienced professionals on
your side, ONLY if it does regular monitoring of your credit report.
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