Don’t be an Internet Fool

Posted October 9th, 2006 by Mike Cherim

Somebody out there wants you to be a fool. Somebody out there is hoping you’ll be a fool. In fact somebody out there is counting on it. And if you are, it’s a shame, because it reinforces the belief that fools abound on the web and the non-fools have to suffer for your ignorance or, in some cases, plain old stupidity. Have I piqued your interest? Good, there’s hope for you yet. Please keep reading as herein are fifteen ways to prevent yourself from becoming an Internet fool and thus saving the rest a few headaches. In a place where no fools exist, those who ply the trade of foolery will eventually get tired and move on.

Internet scams, spam, hoaxes, and misdeeds persist. The reason is simple: These things work. Not for the majority of savvy users, perhaps, but when miscreants are happy and successful with results like one-in-a-thousand, that’s enough motivation for them to keep at it. As long as one-in-a-thousand grin and click, the deluge will persist and the masses will suffer, even if the suffering means nothing more than having to view and delete, view and delete, view and delete.

  1. The rich heiress dying of cancer and the son of the late Minister of whatever did not find you by way of some special coincidence or recommendation. They do not want you to invest their millions — they have no millions — and you will not get 10% (well you will, but 10% of nothing is nothing). Seriously now, do you even for a minute suspect this is true? They want you to say yes. If you do they will need a few of your dollars to pay off officials as difficulties will no doubt arise as they attempt to get those millions to you. Once you part with your money you will never hear from them again.
  2. Maybe your member is weak and fails to rise to the occasion, fellahs. Or maybe when it does, it doesn’t rise high enough to suit your loved one. Well, as much as I’m sorry to hear that, an online pharmacy isn’t the answer. Even if you do manage to get some miracle pills, rest assured they’re crap. And if by some stretch of the imagination they’re not, you’re breaking the law or exposing yourself. Have a problem? Need some pills? Please see your doctor.
  3. Whoa, congratz, you’re an eBay Power Seller. Or not. Don’t click on the email link like a fool. And just where does that email link go? To some site that looks like eBay? They can be tricky, but don’t be tricked. If you’re a big time eBay player and you think there could possibly be some truth to this news, fine. Believe it. But please go to the official eBay site and login into your account to get the goods. Don’t click the link in the email. Same thing applies to those “disputes.”
  4. Time to update your PayPal account again else it’ll be suspended? You see the privacy policy, you see the logo, but don’t believe what you see. If you think it’s legit, don’t go to some look-alike site with an IP address for a URL and login. No, instead go to the official PayPal website and login to your account the right way. If there’s something that needs updating, it’ll be posted on your account.
  5. Looking for that special gift but can’t afford something nice? Well buying a real Rolex for cheap by way of some site you got a link to in your email isn’t the way. You’re gonna get ripped. If it’s not some scam where they are collecting credit card numbers, it will be some site that is offering something other than the real thing. And if you do by some freakish chance get a real Rolex, it will be stolen or defective. If you want a Rolex, go to a reputed distributor and expect to pay top-dollar, or settle for something less.
  6. Some loving “family member” or “dear friend” sent you a postcard? How nice. Even if they happen to mention this alleged family member or friend’s name, call or email them first to verify this before following the link. If you don’t you might end up getting a postcard that your anti-virus program is more anxious to read than you are.
  7. Sure you’re horny, who isn’t? But are you really going to click on a link that some stranger sends you with the promise of a “hot” photo? If you get an email like this from your significant other and suspect it may be the real deal, call him or her and ask… did you really send me something, baby? And if he or she says yes, you might want to discourage them from doing that again.
  8. Five Russian models are hot for you, or at least that’s what it says in the email. But really, look in the mirror. Do you look like the kind of man, or woman, the five Russian girls are dying to meet? If the answer’s yes, go hit the bars for a night and pick up someone locally. If the answer’s no, well it’s okay to dream but keep your finger off your mouse. You’re going to end up with doing something you’re going to regret.
  9. Your services may be wanted. It’s true. And any business person will rightfully respond, but when the deal is struck and the deposit sent, don’t be duped into sending a refund before their check clears, no matter how much they plead and whine. If they sent you $1000 instead of the $100 you requested tell them sorry, but that they should have been more careful and that you’ll gladly refund their money after their check clears and not a moment sooner — assuming you even get a check that is.
  10. If you want to be number one on Google, don’t believe everyone who says they can get you there. Not to say there aren’t legitimate businesses out there who can help you with SEO, but first ask yourself some questions like why did they use some unrelated email — or your own email — to send you their pitch? Ask why they are spamming you to get their message out there? And are they going to make you number one using the same practices? And if it does seem to be real, search them out first to see if they can get themselves number one on Google. If they’re not number one, what makes you think they can make you a star?
  11. If it’s misspelled, it’s crap. As a rule, anybody that has to resort to tactics like spelling Viagra with a “1″ — \/1@gr@ — and other such misspellings isn’t and cannot be legitimate. If they were they’d reach you another way, such as by way of printed literature at your local clinic. Sending gibberish is just that: gibberish. Don’t be tricked. If they have to cheat to get to you it’s not worth your time.
  12. If you do some of your banking online that’s fine. Good for you. But don’t update your records or confirm anything (unless you just opened the account a few minutes ago). If you suspect your bank might need something from you, go to the official site and log into your account to see what’s up. Don’t follow the link in the email. And if it’s not your bank, or you don’t bank online, well, what are you thinking about? View and delete and do nothing more.
  13. Blank emails should not be responded to. If it’s legit, they’ll just have to figure out that they sent it before completing the body of the email. By responding you are doing one thing and it’s a valuable service to them: You’re validating your address. It’s bait and if you take it you’ll be sent more bait. Responding with “dear sender, you sent me a blank email by mistake” is like saying, “hey, I’m here and checking my email address… please send me more crap.”
  14. Reading emails that begin with “Hello Steve” may be fine, but only if your name is Steve. If it’s not Steve, and you don’t know Marty, it just like the blank message above. They’re on a sucker hunt or trying to validate your address. Responding with “Hey Marty, I’m not Steve” is foolish. They will send you more stuff once they know you read your mail.
  15. Even if you did enter the International Lottery, chances are you didn’t win. If you did, they will contact you via the means they describe in the contest rules. I’ve seen lots of spam messages since I’ve been on the web (since the mid-90s) and I’ve won lotteries in 68 countries hundreds of times — mostly by completely unexpected random drawings. Maybe I’m the fool, but I’ve never responded and thus haven’t collected my alleged winnings. By not doing this I haven’t validated my email nor have I lit the neon sign over my head that says “Sucker.”

Keep your stuff up-to-date and don’t be so easily duped. All the bad guys need is a toe in the door. Don’t open your door wide enough to let them get that proverbial toe in. Sure this may be paranoid and may make you seem a bit defensive, but it’s hell out there. You have every right to be vigilant and extremely careful. Be a skeptic — it’s cool. There is no such thing as something for nothing. There are no free rides. There are no real get rich quick schemes; not the legal and ethical kind anyway. The bad guys are out trying to hurt you. You must protect yourself. If you don’t you’re adding fuel to a wildfire that’s already raging out of control.

If we can collectively change the odds from one-in-a-thousand to one-in-a-million, maybe the flood will stop, or at least slow down a bit. They will not be quite so motivated if it’s not so easy for them to pick the pockets of the unsuspecting. It won’t be easy, what with one sucker being born every minute as is said, but it doesn’t hurt to try. As an Internet user and more than likely not the fool I’m talking about, take a moment to add to this list, link to this list, re-publish this list, spread the word, and pass it around. Oh, and remember those immortal words of Mr. T: “Pity the fool.

15 Responses to: “Don’t be an Internet Fool”

  1. JackP responds:
    Posted: October 9th, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    There was something similar on breakfast TV in the UK this morning - some woman who was admittedly not at her best as her husband had just died was swindled out of £250,000 through a postal scam because she thought she’d won the Australian state lottery.

    I keep wondering whether anyone ever thinks “I don’t remember entering the Austrailian state lottery…”

    Great post by the way. I’ll be pointing friends and family this way just to be sure they aren’t tricked, as not everyone’s as cynical as me.

  2. Joe Dolson responds:
    Posted: October 9th, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    Well, now you’ll know exactly which post all your strange search requests lead to…I’m just imagining some of the “interesting” searches you’re going to be showing up for soon!

    Nice post - it’s always good to have more information available to fill people in on all these generic scams…

  3. David Zemens responds:
    Posted: October 9th, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    You really now how to kill a buzz, Mike. I have been waiting for my winnings from the “Irish Lottery” to arrive. I thought they would come today, but the darn post office is closed for one holiday or another. Perhaps they will come tomorrow?

    Patience is a virtue. I live by that. I have been patiently waiting for these winnings since 2002, when an unsolicited email told me they were headed my way. There’s gonna be a big party here when that darn check finally comes, and you would be invited, Mike, if you weren’t so negative.


  4. Mike Jolley responds:
    Posted: October 11th, 2006 at 6:41 pm

    Youll never get rid of the idiots. My parents fall for these things, luckily im there to say “Dont do it *****” to prevent any un-neccessary trauma.

    Ha they even fall for the pop-up windows made to look like XP.


    But really, the only way people are gonna be aware of these things are if major companies inform them, e.g ISPs. How easy would it be to send a leaflet with your modem when signing up? Perhaps a simple, regular, email?

    Or the best way would be to find where the scammers live and break some bones…..

  5. » 16 Spam-Email-Szenarios — cne _LOG Archiv responds:
    Posted: October 12th, 2006 at 6:22 am

    […] rnetaffinen Nutzer wissen: Finger weg von Spam! Was alles Spam ist, erklärt er ebenfalls: Don’t be an Internet Fool Ein Muss für Unerfahrene! […]

  6. Dennis responds:
    Posted: October 12th, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    Great read! Very funny, but sadly it’s true. I especially like #4 about the PayPal spam. Also remember, if the “PayPal” email is not addressed to your name, it’s most likely spam.

  7. Dennis Lembrée » Blog Archive » Don’t be an Internet Fool responds:
    Posted: October 12th, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    […] Cherim at Beast-Blog about all the web scams out there and how to avoid them. Quite amusing. Don’t be an Internet Fool […]

  8. Anthony Brewitt responds:
    Posted: October 13th, 2006 at 1:06 pm

    I am really angry now after reading that list, I need some milk and cookies. One extra thing you can add to the list is Ebay. Ebay can all together go to hell as far as I am concerned, I have only bidded and won a few items on their and every single item has been some how dodgy, the latch would not shut properly, the wrong memory is fitted to the case, the batteries are not included.

  9. ThePickards » standards, accessibility, and ranting and general stuff by the web chemist » Blog Archive » Microsoft Bashing responds:
    Posted: October 14th, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    […] Incidentally, if you want to avoid being fooled like this, it may be worth reading Don’t Be An Internet Fool — which basically amounts to treating every unsolicited email with a heavy dose […]

  10. nathanr|com » Don’t be an Internet Fool responds:
    Posted: November 6th, 2006 at 2:31 am

    […] Link: […]

  11. - The Best of the Beast in 2006 by Mike Cherim responds:
    Posted: December 29th, 2006 at 11:30 am

    […] 2006/10: Don’t be an Internet Fool […]

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