Thursday, February 5, 2009

Online Scams - The affect on ecommerce.

They magically appear in your inbox every week and it is urgent you reply. Everyone of them has the similar pitch to the guy at the gas station. You know the guy. The one that ran out of gas, lives across town, car is just a few blocks away, would really appreciate a couple of bucks for a bus ride home, no job junkie. Yeh, maybe a little harsh, but they're not going to get any simpathy here. NOW, my wife on the other hand is a saint and wants to give everything away, but that is for another post.

Anyways, some examples are the following.
The Nigerian Loan Scam
You receive an unsolicited message that masquerades as some manner of business proposition, request for assistance, notice of a potential inheritance, or opportunity to help a charity. In fact, there is a seemingly endless array of cover stories that the scammers use in order to draw potential victims into the con. In spite of this diversity, virtually all of the scam messages share a common theme. The messages all claim that your help is needed to access a large sum of money, usually many millions of dollars. That is the hook - the messages offer to let you keep a significant percentage of the funds in question in exchange for your assistance. This percentage is the bait that the scammers use to entice potential victims deeper into the scam. Once a recipient has taken the bait, and initiated a dialogue with the scammers, he or she will soon receive requests for "fees" that the scammer claims are necessary for processing costs, tax and legal fees, or bribes to local officials. You get the point..."BS".

Google AdWords Phishing Scam
This unsolicited email claims to be from Google AdWords. Google AdWords provide an easy method for people to place advertisements on the Google network via an online submission system. According to the message, the recipient's payment for ads was unsuccessful and current ads will be suspended if payment details are not quickly updated. The email instructs the recipient to click a link to sign in to his or her AdWords account and update payment information.However, the email is not from Google AdWords and is designed to steal personal and financial information from AdWords customers. More "BS".

PayPal New Security Messsage Phishing Scam
The emails simply state that the recipient has "(1) security message waiting". The recipient is instructed to click a link, retrieve the security message and "resolve the problem". Those who click links in such emails will be taken to a bogus PayPal login webpage designed to closely resemble the genuine PayPal website. If a victim logs in to the bogus site, the criminals responsible for the scam can harvest his or her login credentials. And still more "BS".

Here is my most recent email scam attempt
You're invited to:YOUR FUND
By your host:Office Document
Date:vrijdag 23 januari 2009
Time:10:00 - 11:00 (GMT +00:00)
Location:DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS FOREIGN REMITTANCE DIVISION ATM AND CHEQUE INTERCONTINENTAL BANK PLC BENIN WEST AFRICA Attn Beneficiary,This is to notify you that after the meeting held on 4th of jenuary 2009. His Exelence the PRESIDENT OF FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF BENIN DR YAYI BONI. has Instructed this Department to send your funds through western union money transfer for easier receive of your inherited funds without any further delay.. to avoid paying money to the fraud stars that is going on through out the World now, we have arranged your payment of ($1.millions) one millions united state dollars, in cheque, to be sent to you through western union money transfer payment: Your payment will be sending to you by western union, the amount you will receive per day is $5000,The minister trust funds of Benin Republic will send you the currently standards track details you need to pick up your ($5000) payment by western union,you will receive every day till yo u recei ve the $1 millions united state dollars, now, no need to send you this cheque or atm card because may be it will expire before it will reach your hand,The director administractor trust funds have already signed your payment, now you are free to comply with wemaco payment office on this email: ( However, kindly contact the below person who is in position to release your payment by western union. per day $5000 Mr SAM HARRY, western union department Financial Bank Benin,Mobile:+229 97502564 E-mail: ( The financial western union payment canter has been mandated to issue out your payment and you have to stop any further communication with any other person(s) or office(s) to avoid any hitches in receiving your payment.Therefore the only fee you have to pay them is $150 usd that they will use to renewing of your file. Note that the administrator payment need this details from you to process your paymen t:Your name, Address, Tel, Comply now because as soon as you sent this required details to SAM HARRY he will start sending your payment by western union Regards to you and your family. Will you attend? RSVP Here (link)

And there are hundreds, if not thousands more. Just remember several things:
  1. Stop and think. Nothing is free.
  2. Access your original account...NOT THROUGH THE EMAIL.
  3. Again, stop and think. If you're really questioning it, google some key words of the email. It'll clear it up for you.

Alright, so how does this affect ecommerce. FEAR. I can't tell you how many orders I have lost because my payment merchant is Paypal. For the record, in all the countless orders, we haven't had a single issue with Paypal and they are the most reasonable with merchant fees and charges. Still, on a monthly basis, I will receive an email asking for "other payment arrangements" or worse, lecturing me on "wasting their time for not notifying them earlier in the buying process that I use Paypal." And it wasn't a waste of time to send me the email! People really crack me up sometimes.

So, what is the solution? I have no idea, but I do know I won't be "clicking" or "reaching" into my accounts or pockets for "loose change".


Deer Passion said...

I try to ignore everything but emails from friends and family and fellow bloggers. I do my best to limit my business online, hopefully to stay as far out of reach as I can from these predators.

Kristine said...

You might want to consider upgrading to Website Payments Pro. It's still Paypal, but if people chooose to pay with a credit card, they'll never know that.

Mel said...

Very good post. I think most of us are familiar with the "E-Mail parade of spammers who want to trick or deceive the unexpected, unfortunate folks who spend their time online. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and advice.

Othmar Vohringer said...

I get many of these emails and thanks Microsoft for delete buttons. I never open any email that I do not know or has a dodgy subject line like “Hello dear Friend” or “Lucrative Business Proposal” and “Need your urgent assistance in dedicate business mater”.

I have a rather large collection of bank, Google AdSense and PayPal emails to which I send the corresponding Phishing emails where they are followed up and the sender will be closed down. It works and get many thank you emails from afore mentioned institution telling me that they closed another scum bucket down.

In addition we do no business transaction over the computer. All our banking is done in person at the bank. The Internet is a wonderful place to gather information but one has to be careful what information one provides. There is a lot of scam out there and I am on a mission to expose and close down as many as I can find.