A free way to search for unclaimed property -- and more:
Internet ScamBusters #37
On to this month's...
Internet ScamBusters Snippets
A Free Way to Search For Unclaimed Property
Thank you to everyone who emailed to tell us about all the free sites that allow you to search for unclaimed property (rather than using the site that changes $10 we discussed in the last issue of Internet ScamBusters): Does Your Site Seem Like a Scam . If you are interested, check out: http://unclaimed.org/
NCL's Internet Fraud Watch Releases Top 10 Internet Fraud Statistics for 1999:
Here's how the NCL's report begins:
"Consumers lost over $3.2 million to Internet fraud last year in incident reports to the National Consumers League's Internet Fraud Watch. A 38 percent increase in Internet fraud complaints in 1999 coupled with an average consumer loss of as much as $580 indicate an urgent need for consumer education about shopping online."
The number one Internet fraud for 1999 was online auction sales, increasing from 68% of the fraud cases reported to the IFW in 1998 to an overwhelming 87% in 1999. Other top fraud categories for 1999 (in order) inclue: non-auction sales of general merchandise, Internet access services, computer equipment/software, and work-at-home plans.
There's an excellent brochure, "Be E-Wise: How to Shop Safely Online," that you can download in PDF format:
or by calling 800-639-8140.
As a result of all the pressure from people who also feel this way, they have set up a mechanism to opt out. To do this, visit
and click the opt out button.
Note: you have to click opt out twice. They don't want you to opt out and try to explain why you shouldn't - twice.
You need to do this separately for every browser you use. So, if you sometimes use Explorer and other times use Netscape, you have to do this for both browsers on every computer you use.
BTW, it doesn't matter if you never visit the DoubleClick site. If you visit a site which uses DoubleClick for their banner advertising (which means a *lot* of sites), you can be affected.
From an Alert Reader: Netscape allows for multiple users. Each user must be opted out.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 1,600 sites were uncovered through the "Get-Rich-Quick.con" program when lawmakers from 27 countries and 45 states partnered to find "get rich quick" scams on the Internet.
Read more at:
ScamBusters In The News...
We've been featured in these excellent articles:
Article title: "The Real Victims of Fraud"
Article title: "Click Here for Free Stock"
PrettyPark.exe virus is Back
An old worm has recently resurfaced - PrettyPark.exe - which affects only Windows 95/98/NT systems. It arrives via email from infected users and appears as an attachment titled "Pretty Park.exe." Do not run the program.
This worm will email itself to the email addresses listed in your address book and, via IRC, allows the worm's author to retrieve your computer name, the registered owner, registered organization, system root path, and Dial Up Networking user name and passwords.
You can get more information on the worm and how to scan and remove it from your system at
And as always, never run any program from someone unless you absolutely know what it is, and not before running it through a virus detection program.
For Windows users we recommend Viruscan, from McAfee:
or Symantec's Norton AntiVirus:
to detect and remove any viruses or worms.
Mac users, though not susceptible to this virus, should use a virus detection program as well.
We recommend Virex (also free with .mac)
or Symantec's Norton AntiVirus, which is available for Mac users:
Recent Urban Legends Making the Rounds
"Mike Hutchinson, a missionay in West Africa was arrested for accidentally killing someone with his car and will be hanged immediately if found guilty."
As in so many legends, there is some bit of truth. Mike did accidentally hit someone but in the end was not arrested and is now said to be stateside. No one knows who started the rumor but theIMB had to post a page because of this rumor.
From an Alert Reader: There is detailed chronological information on First Baptist Church of Long Beach, MS. web site concerningMike and Lynn Hutchinson. This is their home church and the information listed there is from emails from Mike as well as the press release from the International Mission Board.
Thank you for helping to get the story correct concerning the events of Mike and Lynn.
"Don't buy gasoline... April 7-9th"
This legend started circulating last year and has sprung up again - mainly due to the increase in gas prices. It's not true, but many people still insist that it will do some good and continue to circulate the email.
Old Phone Scam Back Again - From Some Adult Sites
Last year many people's modems were - unknowingly - automatically disconnected from their local ISP and then reconnected to Russia, resulting in some major long distance phone bills. Well, the scam is back. And this time you could be calling the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific.
An employee in the Internet Services department of a local telephone company has had several customers recently present them with these large phone bills. They called the number the call was billed to, and found that it was a modem line. During their investigation, they found that these customers had remembered downloading a special 'image viewer' program from an adult website, however none of the customers could recall exactly which adult website it was.
It appears that this 'image viewer' program that was downloaded to access 'premium content' from these adult websites is actually initiating the calls, and is probably turning off the modem speaker before dialing, so that the unsuspecting victim has no idea that the calls were being made.
So please ignore the temptation... don't download anything from these sites. You could be hit with a major phone bill.
FTC Steps In To Stop Spamming
There's a new sheriff in town, with the initials FTC. In September, the US Federal Trade Commission made a landmark move in establishing some jurisdiction over search engine re
sults. Read more about it at:
An Important Notice
We provide Internet ScamBusters as a public service and, unfortunately, don't have the manpower to answer the hundreds of emails we receive concerning your questions on individual scams, companies or chain emails. However, we've developed some excellent resources you can use to find the answers you're looking for at scam checkl