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e-Mail fraud

e-Mail spoofing | Phishing | Scam baiting

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, by MultiMedia

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Fraud has existed perhaps as long or longer than money. Any new sociological change can engender new forms of fraud, or other crime. Almost as soon as e-mail became widely used, it began to be used to defraud people via E-mail fraud. E-mail fraud can take the form of a "con game" or scam. Confidence tricks tend to exploit the inherent greed and dishonesty of their victims: the prospect of a 'bargain' or 'something for nothing' can be very tempting. E-mail fraud, as with other 'bunco schemes' relies on naive individuals who put their confidence in get-rich-quick schemes such as 'too good to be true' investments or offers to sell popular items at 'impossibly low' prices. Many people have lost their life savings due to fraud.

Forms of e-mail fraud

Spoofing

E-mail sent from someone pretending to be someone else is known as spoofing. Spoofing may take place in a number of ways. Common to all of them is that the actual sender's name and the origin of the message are concealed or masked from the recipient. Many, if not most, instances of e-mail fraud use at least minimal spoofing, as most frauds are clearly criminal acts. Criminals typically try to avoid easy traceability.

Fishing for data

Some spoof messages purport to be from an existing company, perhaps one with which the intended victim already has a business relationship. The 'bait' in this instance may appear to be a message from 'the fraud department' of, for example, the victim's bank, which asks the customer to: "confirm their information"; "log in to their account"; "create a new password", or similar requests. If the 'fish' takes the 'bait', they are 'hooked' -- their account information is now in the hands of the con man, to do with as they wish. See Phishing.

Bogus offers

E-mail solicitations to purchase goods or services may be instances of attempted fraud. The fraudulent offer typically features a popular item or service, at a drastically reduced price.

Items may be offered in advance of their actual availability, for instance, the latest video game may be offered prior to its release, but at a similar price to a normal sale. In this case, the 'greed factor' is the desire to get something that nobody else has, and before everyone else can get it, rather than a reduction in price. Of course, the item is never delivered, as it was not a legitimate offer in the first place.

Such an offer may even be no more than an attempt to obtain the victim's credit card information, with the intent of using the information to fraudulently obtain goods or services, paid for by the hapless victim, who may not know they were scammed until their credit card has been "used up".

Requests for help

The 'request for help' type of e-mail fraud takes this form. An e-mail is sent requesting help in some way, but including a 'hook' such as a large amount of money, a treasure, or some artifact of supposedly great value.

This type of scam has existed at least since the Renaissance, as the 'Spanish Prisoner/Turkish Prisoner scam. This scheme, in its original form,has the con man in correspondence with a wealthy person who has been imprisoned under a false identity, and is relying on the confidence artist to raise money to secure his release. The victim is 'allowed' to supply money, expecting a generous reward when the prisoner returns. The confidence artist claims to have chosen the mark, (victim) for their reputation for honesty.

This confidence trick is similar to the face-to-face con, known as the Stranger With a Kind Face which is the likely origin of the vaudevillian routine known as The Stranger With a Kind Face, a.k.a. "Niagara Falls", a.k.a. "Slowly I turned..."

The modern e-mail version of this scam, known variously as the "Nigerian scam", "Nigerian All-Stars" etc., is an Advance fee fraud. The lottery scam is a contempory twist on this scam.

Avoiding e-mail fraud

E-mail fraud may be avoided by:

  • keeping one's e-mail address as secret as possible
  • ignoring unsolicited e-mails of all types, simply deleting them.
  • not giving in to greed, since greed is the element that allows one to be 'hooked'.
  • if you have been defrauded, report it to law enforcement authorities -- many frauds go unreported, due to shame, guilty feelings or embarrassment.

See also

External links


Home | Up | History of spamming | Stopping e-mail abuse | e-Mail spam | e-Mail fraud | Messaging spam | Mobile phone spam | Newsgroup spam | Spit (VoIP spam) | Honeypot | Spamware | Pills porn and poker | Joe job | Spam Prevention Early Warning System

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

 
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