WTC survivor virus, lottery scams, 809 area code emails, and more: Internet ScamBusters #93
Today's issue is a bit different -- it's in Q&A format. What we've done today is select some of the most common -- and best -- questions we've received from subscribers over the past two months and answered them.
Since each of these questions has been asked many times, we thought this issue would be especially helpful. We'll do periodic issues in this format if it is -- as we expect -- useful.
OK. Let's get going...
Internet ScamBusters Q&A
Question: I recently received an email from my father about a virus coming in an email titled "WTC Survivor." It said it will erase your entire "C" drive. Have you heard anything about this?
Answer: Yes, we've certainly heard of it. It's a hoax.
Tip: Any email that tells you to forward it to all your friends and family is almost certainly a hoax. Hit delete instead.
Question: Hi Audri & Jim -- I recently received 2 scams from the Netherlands. They first congratulate you on winning a large sum of money in a lottery. One was for a million dollars and the other for a half million dollars. I'm supposed to keep quiet about it until the money is given out. I know these are scams. Would you like me to send you the letters?
Answer: No thanks. We have thousands.
If you ever receive an email that says you won a lottery that you didn't buy a ticket for, it's a scam. For more on lottery scams, click here.
Question: Recently I listed some furniture items for sale on [site name deleted]. I was contacted by email from a person in West Africa offering to buy the items. They wanted me to collect from someone who owed them money here in the US. I would take out my funds and Western Union them the balance minus any shipping fees, etc.
Is this a scam? I have not released any personal info yet. Please let me know if you have any info on this. Thanks, in advance.
Answer: It's a scam. There are many, many variations of this scam. All involve some convoluted way of getting paid -- usually with an international buyer (but not always) -- and often with counterfeit bank checks.
We wrote about the most common variation, which involves selling cars. You can find it here under the question: 'The Single Biggest Question We Are Being Asked Right Now.' The principles are the same whether it's a car, truck, computer, furniture, or any other item.
Question: First, I really appreciate your diligence and attention to scams. It is a great public service.
I am receiving duplicate newsletters, one sent earlier in the week with the content within the email, and then a second one today (always Friday?) with a link to the content, but it has the same content. Perhaps this is happening to others. Can we receive just one or the other?
Answer: We send the main complete issue out on Wednesdays, and a follow-up on Fridays to let you know when each issue is posted online. Each is labeled clearly.
The reason we're doing this is because so many subscribers who are not getting ScamBusters (because of the filters) requested we do this. Since so much of the information we discuss is scam-related, our newsletters are very frequently captured by the filters.
Unfortunately, we have no good way of only sending these notices to only some subscribers.
For more advanced subscribers: If you regularly get the main issue and you want to file or delete the Friday notices in your email program, you can use the phrase 'ScamBusters Now Online' in the Subject Field of the short notice to filter it and set for auto-delete (but please don't flag it as spam).
Question: Should we receive an offer we feel might be a scam, how do we go about checking with you?
Answer: Since we do ScamBusters as a public service, we don't offer this service.
However, we have a page on the ScamBusters site that offers excellent resources on how to report a scam and what to do if you get scammed. Visit now.
Question: Hello! I am new to your newsletter. I just love it. BUT, it is a little confusing. The blue links to the right of your articles, where it says 'Ads by Google' -- are these legitimate sites? Or are they examples of scams?
For example, the newsletter tells me I can only get an international driver's permit from the AAA and one other site, but there are links from other sources under Ads by Google.
I can't tell if they are legitimate or scams. Can you please clarify and let us know?
Answer: The 'Ads by Google' are one of the two ways we cover a bit of the costs for publishing Internet ScamBusters. (The other is the three promotions we run at the end of each issue of ScamBusters and at the bottom of each article on the website.) As you know, ScamBusters is a public service.
Unfortunately, we have almost no control over what ads Google displays. We can prevent a small number of ads from being shown when we see they are scams, but since they change constantly and the number Google lets us delete is small, it is not possible to delete them all.
So, use common sense. If we've just said something is a scam in an article, then go by that.
All of the promotions in the newsletter and at the bottom of each article on the ScamBusters website are for products that we personally use and recommend. None of these are scams.
Question: We actually received a call last week from the 809 area code. The woman said "Hey, this is Karen. Sorry I missed you -- get back to us quickly. Have something important to tell you." Then she repeated a phone number beginning with 809. We didn't respond -- I know from you it's a scam.
A friend got an email, supposedly from AT&T, that said you can be charged $2,425 per minute for calls to the 809 area code, and that you'll often be charged a total of more than $24,100.00. Has this scam gotten that bad?
Answer: As you suggested, both of these are scams. However, the amounts charged in the email are much too high.
You can see a complete description of this 809 scam by clicking here.
Next week we have another special issue for you. See you then...