Internet Scams – Poisonous Plants of the Internet

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”#bf1b3c”]Internet Scams Are Bad for your Financial Health [/typography]

People who enter the Internet Jungle are hungry, or they would not be there. They are hungry for success –  looking for a way to start a business, or seeking virtual jobs (they want to work at home) – and they need sustenance badly. But they are often unaware of one of the dangers of using the Internet – specifically, Internet scams.

SCAMS - Don't let them con you Poster

Besides lions, tigers, bears, sneaky snakes and cannibals, the Internet Jungle is filled with vegetation….much of it is harmless but some can cause great damage by making you itch, break out in hives, or severely damage your mental and financial health if ingested.

There are thousands of people who have trekked into the jungle before you and have survived with only a few cuts and bruises; but, in some cases, with a much lighter pocketbook. I am one of them.

If you are smart, you will learn from my (and others’) mistakes and save yourself a lot of pain and possibly a lot of money.

As with all the other Internet dangers we have discussed, the jungle plants look harmless enough and many have great appeal – giving off a heady perfume that smells like money….money that can be made easily and quickly. The scent is so powerful that it practically reeks of success!

The plants can be so hypnotic that the temptation to reach for their fruit is almost overpowering. Who doesn’t want that first magnificent taste of money and success? That is what every person who ventures into the Internet Business Jungle wants. As you gaze at these amazing plants you can imagination piles of money growing right before your eyes. All you have to do is reach out and gather as much as you want….right? WRONG! Don’t touch these fierce jungle plants!

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”20″ size_format=”px” color=”bf1b3c“]Promises of Quick and Easy Money [/typography]

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The HYIP Plant[/typography] :

This one has very long tendrils that can come out of nowhere and grab you. HYIP is an acronym that means High Yield Investment Program.

There are two varieties of HYIP

The Legal Variety: People who have the financial wherewithal to invest in an HYIP, often do invest and they do it with eyes wide open. They are well-informed and aware of the risks involved – risks they are willing and able to take.

Commodities and futures are types of legal HYIP. With such investments (when you know what you are doing), there can be a potential earning as high as 3% per day.

The downside is that any investment with a potential high yield always carries an equally high risk. You may receive a very large return on your investment, but there is also the very real possibility of losing the total investment.

If you enjoy gambling and you can afford to lose your investment (whatever the amount), legal HYIP’s could be an exciting (even reasonable) choice for you to make.

The Illegal Variety: This dangerous plant grows wild in the Internet Jungle. It releases the scent of easy money, which is intoxicating to unwary adventurers who are desperate for the easy win.

Legal and illegal varieties are very much alike –  except that with the illegal variety the promised yield is much, MUCH higher and the projected time element on the ROI is much, MUCH shorter.

The FBI continually warns the public about illegal HYIP schemes. If you want to know more [typography font=”Cantarell” size=”16″ size_format=”px” color=”#d12340″]click here.[/typography]

Following are a couple of excerpts from an FBI warning:

The purpose of this notice is to alert the public to persons who have reportedly marketed investment schemes which appear to be fraudulent. Various “prime bank” trading programs, or similar trading programs which purport to offer above average market returns with below market risk through the trading of bank instruments are fraudulent. Offering such programs, or claiming to be able to introduce investors to persons who have access to such programs, violates numerous federal laws, including criminal laws.

That sounds serious, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! The FBI report goes on describe the details of these illegal HYIP’s.

All HYIP’s are based on speculation…both the legal and illegal varieties. If you choose to invest in an HYIP, you need to be aware that what you are investing in is a building that hasn’t been built or a product that hasn’t been launched or the educated guess of a person or organization that is in the position to make such and educated guess. You are BETTING that other people will succeed in a prospective financial venture.

**Note: Legitimate HYIP’s do not send unsolicited emails. If you receive an offer to invest your money in a HYIP via unsolicited email…it IS definitely illegitimate.

I trust that you are far too savvy to be caught by the tendrils of this “poisonous plant” – but I believe it is important to put all the information out there so people are more likely to  recognize the threat when it appears.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The Sly Devil Plant: [/typography]

This plant usually shows up as an unsolicited “opportunity” in your email. Sound familiar?  By now you are extremely aware that unsolicited bulk email is always a RED FLAG.  Always remember that legitimate businesses of any kind DO NOT send unsolicited bulk email (SPAM).

Three other red flags that should also be familiar are: 1) The message will be from someone you do not know.  2) The name is usually foreign sounding (but not always). 3) It will not address you by name.  It will begin with a formal greeting such as, “Good Day.”

The following is a copy of a real unsolicited email that made the rounds back in 2004 as reported by [typography font=”Cantarell” size=”16″ size_format=”px” color=”d12340″]Snopes:[/typography]

“Good day, my name is Evaldas Vytautas.

I’m Sales Manager of Lionder Web Design Agency. We are situated in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Lionder Web Design Agency is pleased to offer you the position of Exchange Manager for our organization. We are excited about the potential that you bring to our company.

We work with corporate clients and some of them prefer to do wire transfers, however we cannot receive international wire transfers because of heavy taxes. Tax for international wire transfer is 25% In Lithuania. There is no sense for us to work in such a way, however we don’t want to lose our clients. You need to have Paypal/bank account. System is completely automated. You will work only 1-2 hours a day, receive, process payments from our clients through your Paypal/bank account. Report about all new payments, act only within the limits of law — earn minimum $1500-$2000 per month.

Your salary will be 5-15% from every processed amount (you begin from 5%).

To join the minimum requirements include :

-MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS (Skills, Knowledge, Ability, etc.)
-The minimum qualifications are diploma or equivalent.
-Must be able to multi-task and have good communication skills.
-Knowledge of MS Word and other basic computer programs.
-This being a new field there is NO experience needed.

HOW TO APPLY:

If you would like to pursue this opportunity simply send Your Resume (CV) to resume@lionder.net OR Download Job Application Form
(www.lionder.net/Job_Application_Form.doc), fill it in and send us to resume@lionder.net (No phone calls please. Callers will not be considered for the position).

We will respond promptly.

Please don’t feel shy to contact our Online Support and ask any questions you will have:

Contact Name: Julie Jakulyte
ICQ- 257235542,
AOL IM Screen Name- Jakulyte,
Yahoo! ID: JJakulyte,
MSN- Jakulyte@hotmail.com.

No agencies, please.

Lionder Web Design Agency is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

For more information about who we are and what we do, please visit our webiste — www.lionder.net

It is necessary that we know your decision by November 20, 2004, so that we can plan accordingly.

Regards,

Evaldas Vytautas
Lionder Web Design Agency”

This poisonous Sly Devil plant was designed specifically to attract those who are searching for opportunities to work at home. It was sent well after the enactment of CAN-SPAM, which proves that just because something is illegal does not mean that people will not try to do it. The fact that spamming is a criminal act does NOT stop these plants from running rampant.

NOTE: We recommended that you book mark or add this link to your favorites: http://www.scambook.com/search. Scambook keeps records of complaints and settlements – they cover all kinds of frauds and scams. Never, never, never invest a single penny through the Internet – or even forward an email to your friends – until you have checked out the company and any possible complaints against them on Scambook. Another site that you can use for this purpose is www.snopes.com. No matter how legitimate they sound (or appear), check them out.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The SSS Plant:[/typography]

I made that acronym up….Did you figure out what it means? You may have because it is so common – the Secret Shopper Scam!  This is one that can be found everywhere in the Internet Jungle.  I am fairly sure that I get at least one of these a week, maybe more. It has great appeal and when you are a newbie in the jungle, it sounds like a great idea. Especially since being a “secret shopper” is a legitimate job – and who doesn’t like to shop? The idea of shopping with other people’s money and getting PAID to do it is a big temptation.

Once again . . . there are two varieties – the legitimate business and the scam. It is easy to tell them apart on the Internet because the scam offers come as unsolicited bulk mail (the recurring red flag), but it is not so easy is you are looking at classifieds in the newspaper, in magazines, or on work-at-home job Websites.

One tell-tale sign of the illegitimate offers is the requirement to purchase training supplies or a training course before you start the job. Legitimate secret shopper companies will NEVER require such purchases. However, some of the scams do not require purchase of training materials either, so be very, very careful!

Secret Shopper jobs sound very good. The promise of making large sums of money for only a few hours of work each week is tough to ignore. Plus, with no experience necessary and no educational requirements, you can see why it appeals to a broad spectrum of people.

The advice from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to anyone interested in being a secret shopper:

The truth is that it is unnecessary to pay money to anyone to get into the mystery shopper business. The shopping certification offered in advertising or unsolicited email is almost always worthless. A list of companies that hire mystery shoppers is available for free; and legitimate mystery shopper jobs are on the Internet for free. Consumers who try to get a refund from promoters of mystery shopping jobs usually are out of luck. Either the business doesn’t return the phone calls, or if it does, it’s to try another pitch.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The Dirty Little Secret Plant:[/typography]

The SSS Plants that try to sell you useless training materials for a job that does not exist is a springtime daisy compared to the ones that want to involve you in making illegal purchases, shipping illegal goods, or acting as a middle man for illegal fund transfers – all of which can get you into very serious trouble if you agree to help them.

Below is a copy of a solicitation that I received within the last two weeks (I have copied it exactly as I received it, typos, misspellings, etc.):

Good Day,
Do accept my sincere apologies if my mail does not meet your personal
ethics. I know that this mail will come to you as a surprise, but please
do not be discouraged with my proposal it was due to how things are moving
with me. However, this correspondence is unofficial and private, and it
should be treated as such. At first I will like to assure you that this
transaction is 100% risk and trouble free to both parties. My name is Mr
Andrew Turner, a Fund Manager with one of the worlds largest investment
companies. I handle all our Investors Capital Project Funds which enabled
me to divert 1.2% of Investors Excess Return Capital Funds to our Magellan
Trust Funds Account where any one can be presented to claim the funds.
Total sum of, forty five Million, Seven Hundred and Forty Five Thousand
British Pounds (GBP45,745,000.00) has been diverted, representing 1.2% of
Excess Return Capital Funds from the Investor Capital Project Funds for
2006/2007 fiscal year. I need a reliable and trustworthy person with whom
I can work this deal out so that we can claim the funds as mentioned
above. There is no risk attached and the funds in question can never be
dictated or traced. Be informed that i will handle the expenses that may
be required in this business deal.
Sincerely,
Mr. Andrew Turner.
Private Email: andrewturner0202@msn.com

Now, I ask you, “Who would fall for such a blatant scam or be willing to put yourself in such a dangerous position?” I have no idea, but it must work because these types of poisonous plants show up far too often on the Internet.

If you were to answer this type of solicitation, you would probably receive a check in the amount of several thousand dollars with the following instructions:

  1. Cash the check either at your personal bank or at a designated bank.
  2. Purchase a money order for the amount of the check less the cost of the money order and a hundred dollars or a percentage of the money which you can keep for your services.
  3. Make the money order payable to a person you have never heard of, but must claim as a relative, if asked.
  4. Mail the money order immediately to a Post Office Box in Canada or some other country.

This is money laundering…plain and simple….and anyone who participates in the scheme is guilty of an illegal act. Not only will they have committed an illegal act but they may very well have to pay with jail time, or a fine, for being involved.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The Forwarding Plant:[/typography]

This is a common plant that proliferates in the Internet Jungle and has been around for a long time. There are dozens of varieties. There have been massive efforts to destroy it, but it continues to thrive.

How can anyone who is looking for work turn down an opportunity to make money, get paid with free vacations, and receive great merchandise?  And . . .  all you have to do is forward emails – a job they know they can do. Anyone that knows much about computers, the Internet, and emails would probably see the insanity of this offer, but for a relatively naïve newbie to Internet commerce (and there are many), It sounds like a quick and easy way to earn money, etc.

The problem is that nobody is going to pay you or anybody else for forwarding emails…it hasn’t happened…it isn’t happening…and it will NEVER happen.

Please take note….it is a SCAM….you will NOT receive:

  • Cash from Microsoft
  • Free merchandise from Nike
  • Free clothing from Gap
  • $25 Gift Certificates from Outback Steakhouse, Abercrombie & Fitch, or Old Navy
  • Free cars from Honda
  • Free cases of Coke from Coca Cola
  • Or anything else

If you decide to pick this plant, all you will receive is a lot of grief from unhappy people who received the emails that you forward. Friends and family who receive them may not respond kindly.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The World Currency Plant: [/typography]  

Unless you have lived in a cave most of your life with very little exposure to the outside world, you will probably recognize this as a plant and know that you should avoid it, no matter what.

  • It will simply appear in your inbox as unsolicited bulk email (definitely a pattern here)
  • It will be a very long letter with large blocks of text that you probably won’t read in detail.
  • The letter will open with “Dear Friend” or some other generic salutation – never your name.
  • The letter will use a few thousand words to tell you that you can make a six-figure income by making one phone call to complete one transaction, so you only have to work as much or as often as you choose. Sound ridiculous? Well, it is.
  • It will also include a large number of testimonials from people “who have made it big.” (REMEMBER that anyone can fabricate testimonials and sign them with names drawn from anywhere – even names of your friends.)

What they really want is your money, of course; but they don’t want much – usually around $35.00.  But, when they take $35.00 from many, many people to whom they have offered this amazing opportunity, it adds up to a whole lot of money in their pockets! Save your money and remain $35.00 richer, rather than giving it to the scam artists who have absolutely no conscience.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]The UWON Plant:[/typography]

You receive notification (by unsolicited bulk email) that you have won the lottery – in a country that you have never visited and with a ticket that you never bought. How lucky can you get?

This colorful plant appeals to the greedy core in each of us and is particularly dangerous for gullible people. Common sense will tell you very quickly, (if you allow it to function) that you cannot win a lottery if you have not purchased a ticket.

You can find sample letters and details on the Snopes website, but the basics of this scam are that you will be required to send a specified amount (between $300 and $2000) as a one-time processing fee, which will allow you to collect the millions you have won in the lottery – a lottery that you did not enter.

In closing . . . It is possible that some or all of the above scams are familiar to you. Maybe you have already made the mistake of picking a few of the poisonous plants mentioned and lost a little or a lot of money; or, maybe you have been very good at recognizing them for what they are and managed to avoid them completely. Either way, keep up your guard because each of them has the ability to morph into something that looks quite different the next time . . . but regardless of how each is presented, it will always be a scam and very poisonous to your mental and financial health.

The front line of protection is to use an email server that has an excellent spam filter, which you empty regularly, and never open any unsolicited bulk email message.

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