Tags: The | Dirty | Dozen | Spam | Scams

The Dirty Dozen Spam Scams

Thursday, 21 April 2005 12:00 AM

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the following are the "dirty dozen" schemes of spam e-mail and this is the way those deceptions operate.

Short on details but long on promises, these messages usually offer a telephone number to call for more information. In many cases, you'll be told to leave your name and telephone number so that a salesperson can call you back with the sales pitch.

The scam: Many of these are illegal pyramid schemes masquerading as legitimate opportunities to earn money.

The problem: Sending bulk e-mail violates the terms of service of most Internet service providers. If you use one of the automated e-mail programs, your ISP may shut you down. In addition, inserting a false return address into your solicitations, as some of the automated programs allow you to do, may land you in legal hot water with the owner of the address's domain name. Several states have laws regulating the sending of unsolicited commercial e-mail, which you may unwittingly violate by sending bulk e-mail. Few legitimate businesses, if any, engage in bulk e-mail marketing for fear of offending potential customers.

The scam: Chain letters – traditional or high-tech – are almost always illegal, and nearly all of the people who participate in them lose their money. The fact that a "product" such as a report on how to make money fast, a mailing list, or a recipe may be changing hands in the transaction does not change the legality of these schemes.

The scam: You'll pay a small fee to get started in the envelope-stuffing business. Then you'll learn that the e-mail sender never had real employment to offer. Instead, you'll get instructions on how to send the same envelope-stuffing ad in your own bulk e-mails. If you earn any money, it will be from others who fall for the scheme you're perpetuating. And after spending the money and putting in the time on the craft assembly work, you are likely to find promoters who refuse to pay you, claiming that your work isn't up to their "quality standards."

The scam: These gimmicks don't work. Beware of case histories from "cured" consumers claiming amazing results, testimonials from "famous" medical experts you've never heard of, claims that the product is available from only one source or for a limited time, and ads that use phrases like "scientific breakthrough," "miraculous cure," "exclusive product," "secret formula" and "ancient ingredient." Check with your physician for more information.

The scam: If these systems worked, wouldn't everyone be using them? The thought of easy money may be appealing, but success generally requires hard work.

The scam: Most of these messages are covering up pyramid schemes, operations that inevitably collapse. Almost the entire payoff goes to the promoters and little or none to consumers who pay to participate.

Promoters of fraudulent investments often operate a particular scam for a short time, quickly spend the money they take in, and then close down before they can be detected. Often, they reopen under another name, selling another investment scam. In their sales pitch, they'll say that they have high-level financial connections, that they're privy to inside information, that they'll guarantee the investment, or that they'll buy back the investment after a certain time. To close the deal, they often serve up phony statistics, misrepresent the significance of a current event, or stress the unique quality of their offering – anything to deter you from verifying their story.

The scam: Ponzi schemes eventually collapse because there isn't enough money coming in to continue simulating earnings. Other schemes are a good investment for the promoters, but not for participants.

The scam: The device that you build probably won't work. Most of the cable TV systems in the United States use technology that these devices can't crack. What's more, even if it worked, stealing service from a cable television company is illegal.

The scams: The home equity loans turn out to be useless lists of lenders who will turn you down if you don't meet their qualifications. The promised credit cards never come through, and the pyramid moneymaking schemes always collapse.

The scam: The scam artists who promote these services can't deliver. Only time, a deliberate effort, and a personal debt repayment plan will improve your credit. The companies that advertise credit repair services appeal to consumers with poor credit histories. Not only can't they provide you with a clean credit record, but they also may be encouraging you to violate federal law. If you follow their advice by lying on a loan or credit application, misrepresenting your Social Security number, or getting an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses, you will be committing fraud.

The scam: Most unsolicited commercial e-mail goes to thousands or millions of recipients at a time. Often, the cruise ship you're booked on may look more like a tugboat. The hotel accommodations likely are shabby, and you may be required to pay more for an upgrade. Scheduling the vacation at the time you want it also may require an additional fee.

For more details on these spam schemes, log on to www.ftv.gov.

Of course, not all unsolicited e-mail is a scam or a rip-off, but you must exercise tremendous prudence when dealing with any unexpected e-mail. Be extra vigilant if any e-mail asks for personal information or for your hard-earned money.

(Note: If you manufacture or distribute any Security, Safety, Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Defense or Crime Prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.)

Copyright 2005 by Bruce Mandelblit

"Staying Safe" with Bruce Mandelblit is a regular column for the readers of NewsMax.com and NewsMax.com Magazine.

Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His e-mail address is: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.

Bruce is a nationally known security journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve Law Enforcement Officer.

Bruce writes Staying Safe, a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety and crime prevention.

Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel – the state's highest honor – for his public service.

This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.


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According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the following are the "dirty dozen" schemes of spam e-mail and this is the way those deceptions operate. Short on details but long on promises, these messages usually offer a telephone number to call for more information....
Thursday, 21 April 2005 12:00 AM
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