Not all e-mail scams are vicious. Some are kind of old-shoe, and a person would feel fond of them, except they are still cheating people out of their life savings. I recently got this classic:
I am George Mudashiru, a close friend and personal assistance to Abba Sani Abacha the son of the former Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha. I got your contact throught a directory of prominent members in the world so I decided to contact you through mail on regarding this proposal.
As a close associate to Abba, he gave me a large sum of money which he said to help him transfer abroad and be deposited in my name in a security company. . . . And good old George would like to deposit $10 million in my bank account if only he had its number. A great classic, which is to scams what a Duncan Phyfe table is to furniture. I didnt give good old George my bank account number, and Im sure you wouldnt either.
THE PAYPAL SCAM
Now for the worst one. It started off on an alarmingly high note. (Or maybe I ignored the e-mails they sent for starters — because Im on three e-mail sucker lists I get daily news, in triplicate, about the terrible things supposedly happening to my PayPal, eBay, and bank accounts.)
This one started out: We recently have determined that different computers have logged 1nto (sic) your PayPal account, and multiple password failures were present before the login. One of our Customer Service employees has already tryed (sic) to telephonically reach you. As our employee did not manage to reach you, this email has been sent to your notice.
Therefore your account has been temporary suspended. We need you to confirm your identity in order to regain full privileges of your account.
To confirm your identity please follow the link below: (the link looked like a PayPal link but I am sure was not).
Well. They suspended my account. Were playing in the big leagues now.
I do have a PayPal account, though not at that particular e-mail address. And if I hadnt received so many scam e-mails, this would have led me to go to the REAL PayPal website and ask if they sent that e-mail. Instead I hung tight.
And got the doozy. It had the official PayPal logo and format. On the right-hand side of the page it said:
Protect Your Account Info. Make sure you never provide your password to fraudulent websites. To safely and securely access the PayPal website or your account, open a new web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer or Netscape) and type in the PayPal login page (http://paypal.com/) to be sure you are on the real PayPal site. PayPal will never ask you to enter your password in an email.
Amazing. They didnt want me to type my password into an e-mail, and they did want me to go to the real PayPal site. So I went to the real site. Took a good look at it, then returned to the e-mail, which said on its lefthand side:
Dear PayPal Member: Attention! Your PayPal account has been violated! Someone with ip address 18.104.22.168 tried to access your personal account!
Please click the link below and enter your account information to confirm that you are not currently away. You have 3 days to confirm account information or your account will be locked. Click here to activate your account.
Thank you for using PayPal! The PayPal Team
Please do not reply to this e-mail. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered. For assistance, log in to — and they had an official looking link for me to click.
So I clicked on it. Which I shouldnt have done, and maybe thats where I got the attempted computer hijacking and a tracking cookie. But I was curious. I was taken to a website that looked EXACTLY like the PayPal official website. Remember? They had me go to the real one to see how it looked. I still had the real site on another screen, so I went back to it. The two sites were EXACTLY the same, except for two things:
The real PayPal website recognizes my computer. It automatically welcomes me and puts up the little stars that represent my password. The scam website had blank spaces for my account number and password.
Well, of course they were blank! The whole point was that I should fill in my PayPal password and account number so they could wipe out my account.
Second difference: the address in the window at the top of the scam site was not that of PayPal. It was a string of code letters and numbers.
I still had the real PayPal site on another screen. I flipped back to it. The address in the window at the top was http://PayPal.com. The address on the scam site was not.
And those were the ONLY TWO DIFFERENCES. Talk about low-down, sneaky scams!
I hope I have turned you into a gimlet-eyed, suspicious person — but only where Internet frauds are concerned.
About the author:
Find the best recipe, food gift, and healthy dieting sites in Janette Blackwells Delightful Food Directory, http://delightfulfood.com/main.htmlOr enjoy her country cooking at Food and Fiction, http://foodandfiction.com/Entrance.html