Internet Scams 104 -- Particularly Vicious Scams
Some scams use the name of organizations we trust, and they are the most vicious.
Awhile back scammers sent an e-mail supposedly from the FBI. The address seemed to be fbi.gov, and the message told you that you had accessed illegal websites and that your Internet use had been monitored by the FBI?s ?Internet Fraud Complaint Center.? You were then told to open an attachment and answer some questions. The FBI says that this e-mail is a scam. If you open that attachment your computer will be infected with a virus, tracking cookie, or trojan horse.
? Anti-scam rule 1: Even trusted government agencies can have their addresses stolen. A trusted government agency will not ask you to open an attachment.
Another extremely vicious e-mail identifies itself as Microsoft Security Bulletin MS05-039, and offers a link to what it claims is a patch against the Sober Zafi and Mytob worms. In fact, there is no such thing as Microsoft Security Bulletin MS05-039, and real Microsoft security bulletins offer links to a Microsoft download site, rather than to the patches themselves. If you click on this supposed patch, you will be infected with malicious software that gives attackers complete access to your computer.
? Anti-scam rule 2: If you want to download something from Microsoft or another legitimate organization, do not click on an e-mail. Go to their official site and download it there. That?s the safe way to proceed.
THE ?eBAY ATTACK?
The scam e-mails seeking my eBay account information started out low key. ?Dear eBay customer, During our regularly scheduled account maintenance and verification procedures, we have detected a slight error in your billing information.?
That one didn?t have an eBay logo, but it apparently brought in enough innocent victims to warrant an upgrade. Subsequent mailings grew more alarming and the official eBay logo began to appear in vivid color: ?Dear eBay customer, Due to recent activity, including possible unauthorized listings placed on your account, we will require a second confirmation of your identity with us in order to allow us to investigate this matter further. Your account is not suspended, but if in 48 hours after you receive this message your account is not confirmed we reserve the right to suspend your eBay registration.?
The scammers really, really wanted my eBay account number, but I was deleting their e-mails without clicking on their link. So they upped the ante. Because I didn?t reply, the supposed ?eBay Fraud Mediation? people stepped in and got more and more testy as I didn?t supply them with my eBay account number.
I felt perfectly relaxed through all of this, not only because I got each notice in triplicate (one from each sucker list I?m on) but because I DON?T HAVE AN EBAY ACCOUNT! If I had one, I might have worried, and then done the sensible thing: GONE TO THE OFFICIAL EBAY WEBSITE AND ASKED THEM IF THEY SENT IT. My husband did that once and got a form indicating (1) they get a zillion of these things, and (2) they don?t send e-mails like that. It was a scam, all right.
? Anti-scam rule 3: eBay and other legitimate organizations are NOT going to ask you to confirm your account information in an e-mail.
? Anti-scam rule 4: If you are not sure whether an e-mail is from a legitimate organization or is a scam, go to the legitimate organization?s website (rather than clicking on a possibly infected e-mail link) and ask them if they sent it.
Coming next: the most vicious scam of all.
About the Author: Find the best recipe, food gift, and healthy dieting sites on Janette Blackwell?s Delightful Food Directory, http://delightfulfood.com/main.html -- or enjoy her country cooking at Food and Fiction, http://foodandfiction.com/Entrance.html