How Absolutely stupid do scammers think we are?

My sister forwarded the following email to me last night.

FW: Attn: This is to inform

you that we the fbi have a

warrant to arrest you if we

dont hear from you

immediately,this is the final

warning you are going to

receive from the fbi office do

you get me? I hope youre

understand how many times

this message has been sent to

you. We have warned you so

many times and you have

decided to ignore our e-mails

we have been instructed to get

you arrested immediately,

and today if you fail to

respond back to us with the

payment then, we will close

your bank account and jail

you and all your properties

will be confiscated by the

fbi.Robert Mueller, III FB I


We both laughed at this one.  What you see above was the subject line and there was nothing in the body of the e-mail.  Spelling and grammar errors aside, FBI is always in capital letters.  If you get this in your e-mail, just ignore it.  It is a blatant attempt at fraud.


Top Scams of 2011?

According to, Identity theft continues to be the number one scam.  What we need to remember when we look at statistics, is that the reality is worse.  Statistics are taken from the number of reported cases.  There are many more cases out there that are not reported because the victim thought it was minor inconvenience or because they simply have not discovered that they are a victim yet.

Early detection is important, the quicker you discover that you are a victim, the less time a thief has to do damage.  Find out how LegalShield can help!

Don’t believe the hype!

Since I do market online in social networks, I see a lot of people sucked in by hype from questionable business opportunities.  The opportunity is just too good to be true.

Unfortunately for many who join these programs they end up getting burned.  The find themselves scammed out of hard earned money or become identity theft victims.  Most people do not take the time to look into these programs before jumping in with both feet.  And when they jump in they give out personal information that they should not be giving out.

You can avoid this if you simply take the time to look into it and think.  Before you sign up for things online, look for Red Flags.  Here are two simple Red Flags that should warn you to keep away.

Red Flag #1-Give your email address for more information

If the hype page asks you for an email address to find out what it is about, skip it.   The following information should be available to anyone going to a recruiting or affiliate page:

  • What the program is and any products services it provides
  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policy

Make sure you read these pages.  The TOS often will hide small print that reveals a gotcha.  For example the hype page says you will get $25 just for signing up.  In the Terms of Service you find that it is actually 25 credits which they may call ‘Program’ dollars.  And these program dollars have no value beyond what the program creators say.

Red Flag #2 No Corporate information available

Every legitimate business is listed somewhere and you should be able to find information on the corporate HQ not just dozens of affiliate recruitment pages.  Three ways you can search:

  • Search Google with the program name and the keyyords Corporate Headquarters
  • Search
  • Search

If you cannot find corporate information or that information is hidden treat it as a scam.

Don’t fall victim to scams a phishing schemes that can make you a victim of identity theft.

Your kids are targets too!

The family computer poses a risk not just to you, but to your kids too.  Identity theft, scams and God forbid, pedophiles are all risks that our children face every time they log on to a computer so it is important that we teach our kids online safety.

The Federal Trade Commission has been on the front lines of this fight with the Online-Onguard program for years now but it really wasn’t targeted toward kids safety.  There is a new program that the FTC has implemented in conjunction with Online-Onguard called NetCetera which focuses on educating our kids on online safety.

NetCetera is targeted toward adults to help them talk to the kids around them about Privacy, etiquette and safety  in an online world, not just computers but Cellphones.  It gives tips on explaining to kids what the risks are, how to identify them, how to avoid them and steps for kids to take when they think that they may be subjected to them.
Some of the topics covered:
NetCetera is available in a 56 page book including a glossary of internet terms and a listing of Resources to help parents teach kids about online safety.  If you are a parent or educator this is a must have tool in teaching our kids how to stay safe.  You can order NetCetera materials for free from the Federal Trade Commission.
But risks to our children are the same as risks to ourselves.  We can teach them to lower their risk but the risk never goes away.

Goodbye Black Friday, Hello Cyber Monday

So you made it through Black Friday, that madness is over for another year.  Now it’s time for the Cyber Monday madness.  Although you don’t have to worry about being in the middle of a beat down over a Barbie, Cyber Monday carries it’s own perils and pitfalls.

Cyber Monday has developed into the biggest online shopping day and scammers will be setting up traps for the unwary.  Online shoppers get caught every year in a multitude of scams from simple online Phishing schemes to flat out thefts.  So when you jump into the online shopping, be aware!  Some of the things to look out for:


Spoofing of retail websites

Spoofing is not new.  It has been around for a bit.  Have you ever gotten an e-mail from E-bay saying that you need to update your account?  That email probably had E-bay’s logo and may have even had an attached link that looked legitimate.  That is what spoofing is, imitating a reputable website.  When you go to this spoofed site and input your personal information, identity thieves now have everything that they need to steal your identity.

With online shopping it’s the same thing.  The thieves set up a site that looks like Sears and may even have Sears in the web address.  But it’s not Sears you are giving your information to, it’s an identity thief.


Sharing of unknown links

We all like to  share good deals right?  So it stands to reason that our friends would share great deals with us.  We also trust our friends so we don’t really think when we get that message on Facebook about the free computer our friend got as a part of a ‘Holiday promotion’.  Social networks get hacked.  That link that your friend shared with you is not from your friend at all.  It is from some scammer phishing for information.


The too good to be true deal

While Walmart may have been selling the next big thing dirt cheap and way under cost for a couple of hours on Black Friday,  they are making up their loss through all of the other sales that they are making.  You don’t walk into a store and see that as the regular price.  Finding items at unreasonably low prices should set off warning bells.  Yes you might just find a Rolex discounted 25% on a website.  But when it is being sold for a 10th of the price?  Can you say hot watch?

Things to be aware of

Like anything else staying safe while shopping online is mostly common sense.  Here are some tips to protect yourself.

  • Do not enter any of your information on unsecured websites.  Always check the address bar.  The page url should start with “HTTPS://”
  • Confirm website urls whenever possible.  If you plan to shop at a major retailer online, pick up the phone and call them to get the correct url.  Many scam sites will use the retailer domain name and then change the .com to .net or .org.
  • Be aware of the almost correct url.  Scammers will create a domain name close enough to seem legitimate.  For example if they want to spoof say Starbucks and Starbucks url is, the scammer may use
  • Before clicking on any link, hover your cursor over that link.  At the bottom of the screen it will show you the web address that you are actually going to.  If the link is cloaked, for example it shows code your safest bet is not to click it.   Legitimate retailers have no need or desire to hide themselves.

Be aware of Knockoffs

If it is a designer item or  hot brand name, the knockoffs are out there.  Everything from Sports Jerseys, to hand bags, to shoes to perfume have been copied.  So the odds are that cheap Louis Vuitton bag is nothing more than a cheap imitation.  Many companies sell admittedly fake imitations of the real things and they are marked as imitations or reproductions.

The only way you can be sure that you are actually ordering the real thing is to order it from and authorized retailer or the designer’s own website if they have one.  For example you can go to Louis Vuitton’s website look up the authorized retailer’s.  If that website is not an authorized retailer, they are not selling the real thing.

Be aware, use your common sense and research before you buy.  Protect your identity and avoid scams this holiday season.


Silly Phishers!

Take a good look at the following email.  It’s pretty clear that this is a phishing scheme.  It was emailed from a numerology website.  The first thing that jumps out as a red flag is that they are using the ‘credit score’ bait.  A numerology site alerting me that there may be changes to my Transunion credit score?  Ms Cleo must be working for them since the only way they could know what is on my credit score is if they are psychic.


But hang on a minute!  Hidden text in the email!  That little box of text didn’t show in the email but when I copied it to a document to edit out the sensitive information, guess what showed up?  This is just a tiny bit of the text which looks like someone is writing a bad novel or ripped off a bad novel, not sure which applies.


So I am being warned about my credit score, offered unknown links back to a numerology site and Has a good awful example of putrid prose on top of everything else.  I can’t figure it out.  Are they phishing for personal information or fishing for a publisher?  No matter, either way it gets deleted.  However for those who click on links like this, there is LegalShield.

—–Original Message—–
From: email address removed
Sent: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 10:21:15 -0500
To: e-mail address removed
Subject: Notice: There has been a change to your Transunion score


View all 3 reports at no cost to you, and also receive score monitoring at all three major bureaus and avoid credit fraud. To retrieve your score Click Here
To unsubscribe please Click Here

Since there was little he could do about his situation, he seemed determined to strike as picturesque and dramatic a pose as possible. The back of one hand rested despairingly across his forehead, while his other arm was thrown wide in a flamboyant attitude. The only part of his face visible, therefore, was his mouth, which was pursed and plump, as if the world were too hot and coarse for his palate

Would you really fall for this?

It’s always Phishing Season, only the bait changes.  And Somewhere out there is a Phisher who has decided to change the bait.  I recently received an email that is a blatant phishing scheme. I received the following notice from of all places, ‘The United States Postal Service’.

Sorry scammer, I know better!

TO: 1 recipient
CC: You + 23 More

Unfortunately we failed to deliver the postal package you have sent on the
12th of November in time because the recipient’s address is erroneous.

Please print out the shipment label attached and collect the package at our

United States Postal Service

I’m wondering how anyone could fall for something this blatant, but then again These Phishing schemes would not be so prevalent if no one was falling for them.

This one is so obvious.  Let me explain why.  Not only did they send this to me, they carbon copied it to 19 other people and I now have all of their email addresses just as they all have mine.  Not something that the post office would do.  In addition:

*When is the last time you stuck a letter in the mail with your email address printed on the outside of the envelope?  I don’t think USPS has mine because I have never included my email address on any shipping label.

*I think that there was a return address included on everything that I have mailed or shipped.  There is a reason for the return address; when something is undeliverable the post office returns it to the original sender.  So if they could not deliver something, they send it back to me.

How is it that 26 different people all have the same ‘shipping label?  We don’t that is where the phish bites the hook.  Yes there is something attached to this email for me to download, and it is not a USPS Shipping label.  It is a virus or worm that will infect my computer or a link to software that will give them access to my computer even if I am not on it.

Never respond to these emails and never click on any links or attachments included with them.  Delete them.  I have gotten the “Cannot deliver your package” e-mail numerous times from every shipping company in the US and they are all the same.  A phishing scheme meant to gain information from you.  Answering these emails or responding to them in any way other than deleting it, increases your risk of becoming the next identity theft statistic.

Identity theft is a major concern for all of us and our information can be accessed from numerous sources.  LegalShield can help before, during and after you become a victim.

He’s in the jailhouse now!

Have you ever opened an email from a trusted friend saying that they are stuck in a foreign country?  I get one of these emails at least once a week.  I think all of my friends are stuck or locked up somewhere.    I don’t have any friends left…not!  This is an old phishing/fraud scheme.  It refuses to die because people still fall for it.  It has also mutated over the years into another form that many people fall for.

It is a variation of the old standby, someone you know stuck in a foreign county and desperately needing your help.  You get an email stating that they have been robbed or mugged and now they need you to send them the money to get home.  Some people will fall for it but most of us tend to know when our friends are taking a trip to an exotic locale because they tell us.  If you were headed to Rome or the South of France for a week, you would be telling all your friends too!  Even if it was just to see a bit of envy on their face.

So it has mutated into a newer version, ‘The Prison Phone call’ scam.  The first time I ran into this scam, I laughed so hard I was almost in need of a box of Depends.  It was several years ago when I was working for the police department.

I answered the phone to hear a recorded message saying that an inmate had called from that number and that the number was to a correctional institution. I was given a number to call because the number they were calling from was part of a prison phone system that did not accept inbound calls.  Sounds reasonable doesn’t it?  Until you think for a moment.  The person who called from that number was not identified nor was the correctional institution.  Big red flags.

Who was it that called?  If I didn’t know who called who was I supposed to be calling them back about.  The other issue? What jail or prison did the call originate from?  The message was designed for one reason, to get people to dial the number.

Here’s the catch.  That number is not ringing where you think it is ringing.  It is ringing in a foreign country somewhere.  Even if it is a US area code, it has been forwarded to an out of country number.  You dial it and you pay.  This one still pops up and the Holidays are a perfect time for this and many more scams.  It’s a hectic time for most people, lots of people you know are traveling here and there and it is reasonable that things happen.

Keep two things in mind.  If you receive a call about someone being in jail any message you receive should should include the name of the correctional institute and the person who the call is from.