Resources on myths and legends, scam quiz, and more: Internet Scambusters 51
This month, we point you to an interesting scam quiz, have an update (including some good news) on the Nigerian Fee Scam, reveal how con artists are now taking advantage of the war in Afghanistan, and have some great resources for you on Urban Legends.
But first, we wanted to assure you that we have not sent you any viruses. There are several viruses going around that make it look like we (and others) have. However, we do not send ScamBusters as HTML mail, nor do we ever include attachments.
The viruses we've seen that look like they originate from us are either in HTML mail format, or they carry an attachment. One has clearly forged our return address.
Further, many of our newsletter publisher friends have recently been victim to people sending out emails forging their return addresses -- so it looks like the email is coming from these publishers. You can see all of our past issues at the Scambusters site, so you know the kind of newsletter we send out. If you get an email that seems different, please recognize that it probably didn't come from us.
OK, on to this month's...
Internet ScamBusters Snippets
How Scam Savvy Are You?
BankRate.com has an interesting quiz. Check it out at
Nigerian Fee Scam - Update
The Nigerian Advance Fee Scam continues to sucker in unsuspecting businesspeople every day, and new twists in the scam are making it more successful -- and harder to prosecute -- than ever.
If you're not familiar with it, the scam is simple: You receive an email from a 'Nigerian official' offering a large cut of monies overpaid on a government contract, in exchange for the use of your bank account.
The scammers make their money by pressuring or threatening the victim for large sums of money as the 'business venture' goes south.
For more information, see the Internet ScamBusters.
The latest unverified statistics are that men and women around the world have lost over $1-BILLION to this scam!
There are hundreds of variations of the Nigerian Fee Scam, with more appearing every month.
Scammers, who used to be more patient in luring their victims, are now much more likely to ask for personal information such as bank account numbers, credit card information, or Social Security Numbers right up front.
The scammers then use this information to commit identity theft.
Another change is that scammers are insisting on more confidentiality -- victims are required to keep the information to themselves. This may be a result of the greater public knowledge of the scam -- if friends or family of the victim become aware of what's going on, they might know enough to tell them it's a scam.
In an interesting turn of events, the Nigerian government has put up a Web site about Nigerian frauds. You can report a fraud, view sample emails and documents that scammers use, and learn about the most common fraud scenarios.
Some good news, though. Six people have been arrested in South Africa on fraud charges. Police, apparently working with the U.K.'s Scotland Yard, seized computer equipment, false identification papers and quantities of drugs. Four of those arrested were Nigerian, one was Cameroonian and one was South African.
You can the article at
A new version of this scam is making the rounds, this time supposedly from American soldiers in Afghanistan. The email claims to be from a US Special Forces Commando. You can read more about it at
It's amazing that people continue to fall for this scam in this day and age, but as with any scam, you can protect yourself by doing some detective work when you receive an offer that just seems too good to be true.
Remember: people have died and been reported missing from this scam. It is VERY dangerous -- to you, not just to your wallet.
Useful Resources for Urban Legends
A dear friend or family member forwards you an email telling you that antiperspirants cause breast cancer, that SULFNBK.EXE is a virus which you should delete immediately, or that Bill Gates is offering $1,000 and a free version of Windows.
Before you forward this email to your own friends and relatives, investigate! Here are some great resources for tracking down urban legends and hoaxes:
1. Internet ScamBusters Urban Legends
We provide a long list of email chain letters that are hoaxes. Don't be fooled into forwarding these ones to anyone you know.
Visit our page.
2. Snopes.com Urban Legends Reference Pages
Snopes provides an extensive list of urban legends, categorized by type. Unlike other sites, Snopes indicates whether urban legends are true, false, undetermined, or so generic that they could be true.
3. HowStuffWorks' "How Urban Legends Work"
The HowStuffWorks site provides an article describing urban legends, their history, how they are spread, and how people spread them using the Internet.
4. Darwin Awards - Urban Legends
The annual Darwin Awards are presented, tongue-in-cheek, to people who die in stupid ways and so remove themselves from the gene pool. The Urban Legends page contains apocryphal stories of very silly deaths.
5. Yahoo's Urban Legends Directory
This subsection of Yahoo's Web directory lists dozens of sites covering urban legends, myths, hoaxes, folklore and more.
Remember: Checking out an email's claim before you forward it on can save your friends and family time and money. Do your part to keep our inboxes clean!