- the "sport" of "Scam Baiting"
- internet scams
- scams on your phone, eg. 90 #
last updated 2011 Nov 14
used in the following courses taught by Prof. Richardson
reading this unit, and listening to the lecture in class, students will
have information about:
range of scams and the may places they come from
|Jennifer B. in MRK 610 March
2003 found a great site which can serve as an introduction to this unit
on scams and hoaxes.
Before we begin -let us remember that although scams are bad, the most challenging thing is knowing if something is current. "It's not easy to determine whether information on the Internet is legitimate or correct. There is a lot of inaccurate and deceitful information on web sites, in e-mails, and even in news and newsgroups. False information can occur from mistakes or oversights, but the biggest problem is information that is out of date." about-the-web.com/shtml/scams.shtml
|YES THIS PAGE IS USEFUL
Nov 2011 - former UTSC student
in 2008) Hasan Shahzad stopped by to talk about his work in Mutual Funds
at Royal Bank and mentioned that frequently he references material from
this page in order to educate clients as to some risk and threat situations
they should be careful about regarding identity theft and hacking.
Thanks Hasan for mentioning
|Do Not Call Registries||In Canada, Sept 30th,
2008, legislation went in to effect allowing citizens to register with
a national Do Not Call Registry
If you get a call from someone claiming to represent one of the new Do-not-call registries (a list of people who do not want to be bothered by telemarketers), do not give them any personal information. There is no legitimate reason for anyone from one of these lists to call you. The scam is to get your personal information and then commit identity fraud.
The real website for the
national federal government DO NOT CALL Registry is
|DISCLAIMER||In discussing some of the
following scams from Nigeria and central Africa, we are not making any
value judgment on Nigerian people, rather we are referring to the geographic
place where a popular scam format has originated for many years, and is
now becoming very popular using internet communication means.
It is not our position to say whether, or not, such people are guilty, rather we are simply providing information about a situation in which there has been overwhelming exposure of the fradulent nature of many variations of scams coming from this country.
|For 15 years now, there
have been many scams come out of West Africa (in particular Nigeria)
other countries include
In the screen capture to the left, you can see an example of an email that was sent to the author of this page, attempting to solicit contact.
Typically, these scams from
Nigeria / West Africa come under the heading of advance-fee fraud - that
means, the victim is enticed to may money up front in order to secure a
prize, or some sort of large money.
|The scams associated
with Nigeria are sometimes referred to as "419".
419 refers to that section in the Nigerian Criminal Code (part of Chapter 38: "Obtaining Property by false pretences"
The reason that the scams became so "infamous" is due to the high degree of "believability" and credibility.
This believability was facilitated by the use of official Nigerian government letterhead (in the days before faxes and emails), and the co-opted use of government domain names, telephone numberss and email addresses.
The investigations of several North American and European law enforcement organizations have uncovered complicity and co-operations between the criminals and high ranking executives and administrators in various Nigerian government departments in the 1990's and early years of Y2K.
In some cases, where a victim is particularly gullible, the criminals will make travel arrangements for the victim to come to Nigeria - whereupon that person may end up in a kidnap situation in addition to the financial scam. While it may seem impossible to believe such gullible people exist, every month the security staff at various western Embassies in Nigeria hear from people who came to Nigeria because they believed the scam, and end up in serious trouble.
|The best thing to do, if
you receive such contact, according to the RCMP, is "..pass the Nigerian/West-African
letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Phonebusters National Call Center
('PNCC') is a joint partnership involving the Ontario Provincial Police
and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police."
You should understand that these people contact thousands and thousands of potential targets and you are nothing "special".
|UTM students in MGD415
in April 2009
Kiel D., Ting Pong H. and Gongyi G. made a simple video showing one variation of the Nigerian Scam
|From the official web site of the RCMP|
Government's involved in internet scams
letters are variations of the following, says the RCMP on their website:
Contact was made in May and June 2005 with Michelle Corrigan, and Constable P. Flood, of the Public Affairs branch and Constable Cyndy Henry and Marty Chesser of the Intellectual Property office of the RCMP HQ in Ottawa regarding permission to link, and use this screen capture. Copies of emails kept on file in the permissions binder.
|We led this section with
an introduction to scams from Nigeria - because that country has become
infamous for many many scams coming from there. According to www.cnet.com
"Scams have become so successful in Nigeria that antisleaze campaigners
say swindling is one of the country's main foreign exchange earners
after oil, natural gas and cocoa."
Nigeria is not the only African country doing this, there are internet scams coming from other West African countries such as Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana. So people who discuss these scams in 2005 and beyond no longer refer to them as "Nigerian scams" but instead refer to "scams from West Africa".
Are they successful after so many years of publicity about these scams? Aren't there a lot of people who know this is a scam?
Well, these criminals are still targeting victims - but co-operation among international police agencies is beginning to result in arrests and convictions.
Amaka Anajemba of Nigeria, one of three suspects in a $242 million fraud involving a Brazilian bank, was sentenced, by a Nigerian court, to two years in jail in July 2005. Including the time she served in pre-trial, she'll be out in a year.
Question - 2 years for $200 million?FYI, Nigeria is ranked the world's second most corrupt country after Bangladesh by sleaze watchdog Transparency International www.transparency.org
2004 and 2005 co-operation among several national and international police
agencies led to some high profile arrests and a lot of "bad press" about
the complicity of Nigerian government officials in the 419 scams.
In response to growing international pressure, the government of Nigeria established The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. EFCC is a Nigerian law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes such as advance fee fraud (419 fraud) and money laundering.
Is progess being made?
In September 2006, the EFCC had 31 of Nigeria's 36 state governors under investigation for corruption.
The fact that 31 of 36 state governors were alleged to have been involved indicates the extent of the corruption at the highest levels
The fact that the Nigerian government made this information public indicates that there seems to be a more serious will to eradicate this problem.
|In his May 2006
address to the U.S. congress, the head of the Nigerian Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission said
"There exist serious challenges to the continued successful prosecution of the war on corruption in Nigeria. These include:
- DO NOT BECOME A VICTIM. Do not reply, make no contact.
from South Africa
from South Africa
do require your assistance in the transfer of US$21,300,000 (Twenty one
million, three hundred thousand, United States Dollars). This fund emanate
from over invoiced contract amount that was executed for my Ministry by
a mining company, which has since gone into liquidation. Although
the actual contract amount was paid to the company, the over invoiced amount
of US$21,300,000 has since been lying in the Ministry's escrow account
at the Reserve Bank of South Africa pending proper
proof of claim, We are privy to this classified information
by virtue of our position in the ministry..."
- DO NOT BECOME A VICTIM. Do not reply, make no contact.
from Democratic Republic of
"Consequent upon the assassination of my husband, I am in possession of USD 58,000,000 (Fifty Eight Million US Dollars Only) being funds earlier earmarked for special projects. This fund has since been deposited in a security company in West African Country of Togo where I am residing now with my children. It is now my intention to move the said fund out of this place (Togo) to a safer place for the benefit of my children and I, for immediate investment. Based on this that I solicited for your assistance to enable me take this money out of Togo.... "
|Some of these story lines are shown here for comedy value as well as "e-commerce security" value. The stories are so incredibly contrived that it is hard to believe anyone would believe this, but, every year, the American embassies in central African countries receive inquiries from people saying "I went to Togo, and met these people, and gave them money, now I'm stuck cause I think they lied...".|
"We ( Standard Security and
services limited) is a Registered security company in Ghana West
Africa and we operate full-time security services such as: CLEARING-HOUSE,
SAFE DEPOSIT, VAULT SERVICES & SECURITY SERVICES. I know you will be
surprised and wonder as to why I'm contacting you, .... I am contacting
you to solicit for your co-operation in receiving the sum of US$27 (Twenty
seven million, United States dollars only). This cash was deposited for
safe-keeping inside one of the vaults in our security company by a client
of our company that is based in the United States of America, who was unfortunately
killed recently during the terrorist suicide bombing attacks on the WORLD
TRADE CENTER BUILDING in NEW YORK, U.S.A. As at the time of the deposit,
our late client registered the luggage containing the cash as " AFRICAN
ARTS AND FAMILY TREASURE ".
|Disclaimer: In discussing
this scam below, we are not making any value judgment on people in
Brunei, rather we are referring to the geographic place where a popular
scam format has begun to develop, and is now becoming very popular using
This scam promises that if you can help this rich princess escape from the wicked prince, she'll give you 10% or her $16 million she has managed to steal away over the years. It was sent to me c/o of my U of T email - I did not respond ...
|One of the oldest scams
still circulating is the one where a friend says Microsoft is doing a test
and if you forward this email on you'll get paid xxx amount of dollars.
First of all, companies in IT don't market this way, secondly it is so
unbelievable that I am surprised it has survived these past few years -
but people still keep this scam going - I received a version of it in June
2003. Variations of the scam include origins from Netscape, IBM or any
other well known company.
|This is quite a long letter
going to great length to convince you it is not a scam with people saying,
"I'm an attorney, and I know the law. This thing is for real"
- right - ya, I'm going to trust an American lawyer I have never met before - uh huh- sure
|Although you make think
it is too stupid to have credibility, thousands of people are getting sucked
in to such emails and they dutifully forward it on to all their friends.
Carrie O. in MRK 610 March 2003 found a good list of scams which we have replicated below - some of these are common sense, some of them are not so obvious - all are using the internet as a tool for spreading disinformation.
Scams Most Likely To Arrive Via Bulk Email
is written by By Audri and Jim Lanford, NETrageous Inc.
|Carrie O. in MRK 610 March 2003 found a good list of scams which we have replicated below - some of these are common sense, some of them are not so obvious - all are using the internet as a tool for spreading disinformation.|
2. Make money by sending bulk email. These solicitations offer to sell you bulk email lists (consisting of millions of email addresses), spam software (usually very poor in quality), or services to send spam on your behalf. Don't do this.
3. Chain letters. No list of scams would be complete without this old "favorite" - email style. Here you're asked to send a small amount of money (or some item) to each of four or five names at the top of the list, and then forward the message including your name at the bottom, via bulk email. Many of these letters claim they are legal - they are not. Further, nearly everyone who participates in these chain letters loses money. Even if there is a "product" such as a report on how to make money, it does not make these schemes legal.
4. Work-at-home-schemes. The most common work-at-home scam promises that you'll earn money for stuffing envelopes. For example, you're promised you'll earn $2.00 for every envelope you stuff. In fact, there never is any real envelope stuffing employment available. Instead, you pay to register and then you're instructed to send the same envelope-stuffing ad via bulk email to others. The only money you can earn would come from others who fall for the scam and pay to register. Finally, if you did actually do work for one of these outfits (for example, some promise to pay you for craft work), they'd refuse to pay you and say your work didn't measure up to their "quality standards."
5. Health and diet scams. These are similar to the miracle cures offered off-line: ways to lose weight without eating less or exercising, "scientific breakthroughs," "secret formulas" which provide cures for hair loss, and herbal formulas that liquefy fat cells so that they are absorbed by your body. These scams often include testimonials from "famous" medical experts you haven't heard of. Of course, these gimmicks don't work.
6. Effortless income. The newest version offers get-rich-quick schemes to make unlimited profits exchanging money on the world currency markets. There are lots of variants, but they all promise vast riches with no work. Beware of these scams.
7. Free goods. These offers promise expensive items such as computers... for free. They ask you to pay a fee to join, and then you have to bring in a certain number of other members. Many of these scams are just disguised pyramid schemes.
8. Investment opportunities. These scams promise outrageously high returns... and of course, there is "no risk." Many of these scams are illegal Ponzi schemes, in which early investors are paid with the money from later investors. This gives the early investors the illusion that the system works and they are then encouraged to invest more money (which they eventually lose). The sales pitches for these offers include claims of high-level financial connections, that the promoters are privy to inside information, or promises that they'll guarantee the investment. The promoters are long gone if you try to take advantage of their "guarantees."
9. Cable descrambler kits. These scams offer kits or information on how to receive cable transmissions without paying any subscription fees. There are two problems with these offers: 1) the kits and information don't work; and 2) even if they did work, it is illegal to steal service from cable television companies. Further, many cable companies have aggressively been prosecuting cable service theft.
10. Guaranteed loans or credit, or easy terms scams. There are lots of variants of this scam: home equity loans that don't require any equity in your home, loans regardless of your credit history, offshore bank loans, credit cards regardless of your credit history, etc. Sometimes these offers are combined with pyramid schemes that offer to pay you for attracting other participants to the scheme. However, they are scams - the loans don't come through, you are turned down unless you meet stringent requirements, or the credit cards simply don't arrive.
11. Credit repair scams. These scams promise to erase accurate negative information from your credit file so that you can now qualify for loans, mortgages, or credit cards. The promoters of these scams cannot deliver. Further, if you follow their advice and lie on a loan or credit application, misrepresent your Social Security number, or get an Employer Identification number from the Internal Revenue Service under false pretenses, you will be committing fraud and violating federal laws. Don't fall for this scam.
12. Vacation prize promotions.
Last, but not least, is a scam in which you receive electronic verification
congratulating you because you've "won" a fabulous vacation, or you've
been "specially selected" for this opportunity. The "deluxe cruise ship"
may well be more like a tugboat, upgrades can be very expensive, and hotel
accommodations are likely to be very shabby."
|Corey F. in MRK 410, March 2003, found a good list of scams from the about.com site|
|On the about.com site there is a list of the Top 10 Scams, which originally comes from the Federal Trade Commission:|
2. Internet Access Providers
"Consumers say they’ve been "trapped" into long-term contracts for Internet access or another web service, with big penalties for cancellation or early termination. If a check arrives at your home or business, read both sides carefully and look inside the envelope to find the conditions you’re agreeing to if you cash the check."
3. Web Cramming
" You are offered a free custom-designed website for a 30-day trial period, with no obligation to continue. Consumers say they’ve been charged on their telephone bills or received a separate invoice, even if they never accepted the offer or agreed to continue the service after the trial period."
4. Travel and Vacation
" You are offered a luxurious trip with lots of "extras" at a bargain-basement price. Consumers say some companies deliver lower-quality accommodations and services than they’ve advertised or no trip at all."
"You are told you can make an initial investment in a day trading system or service and you’ll quickly realize huge returns."
6. International Modem
" Get free access to adult material and pornography by downloading a "viewer" or "dialer" computer program. Consumers complained about exorbitant long-distance charges on their phone bill. Through the program, their modem is disconnected, then reconnected to the Internet through an international long-distance number."
7. Credit Cards
" You are told you can surf the Internet and view adult images online for free, just for sharing your credit card number to prove you’re over 18. Consumers say that fraudulent promoters have used their credit card numbers to run up charges on their cards."
8. Multilevel Marketing
and Pyramid Schemes
" You are told you can make money through the products and services you sell as well as those sold by the people you recruit into the program."
9. Business Opportunities
" Be your own boss and earn big bucks. Taken in by promises about potential earnings, many consumers have invested in a "biz op" that turned out to be a "biz flop." There was no evidence to back up the earnings claims."
10. Health Care Products
" The claim is that items not sold through traditional suppliers are "proven" to cure serious and even fatal health problems. Claims for "miracle" products and treatments convince consumers that their health problems can be cured."
The unseen dangers of
Ross says "Speaking of scams it turns out that not even the cute and cuddly porn industry is safe. Yes, its true! Now unsuspecting adults must "watch their asses" (pardon the pun), because the criminal elements out there have found a new manner to rip off poor unsuspecting individuals while searching for "free" porn (so look out R. Kelly and Pete Townsend). Here's a little story that we (Ross D. & Debora A.) found that'll shake your tail feathers!!!! (OOHHH OOHHH OHHH!!)"
pass this email on to raise money for --- hoax"
"please pass this email on to raise money for --- hoax"
pass this email on to raise money for --- hoax"
premise of this hoax is a poem which is supposed to have been written by
a terminally ill young girl in a New York Hospital. The hoax is that the
girl's medical doctor sends you an email asking you to read the poem and
pass it on - it is a sad poem, but the girl does not exist. The doctor
identified in the poem is a real doctor but they had nothing to do with
this - their name was "hijacked" for this purpose and it has caused so
much frustration for the hospital that they have posted a plea on their
website to not pass the message on and to warn it is a hoax.
This particular hoax is one of the better known ones and has been reported by www.breakthechain.org . They have a piece on their site discussing this particular hoax, how it originated and what to do about it - see http://www.breakthechain.org/exclusives/slowdance.html - this particular hoax is well documented and is alleged to have begun as far back as 1997.
The poem in the hoax is a real poem - it was written by David L. Weatherford and published in 1991 by the Russ Berrie Company. Wetherford is uncertain how the poem came to be associated with the dying child hoax. It is likely someone simply read it and plagarized it to use in the email hoax to add to the sadness and "hopp" people into replying.
|Scams that threaten you if you do not take action||One
of the students in my Centennial GNED 136 class in 2003 received an email
threatening that if she did not pass on a certain email, "your account
will be messed around with and much, much more". This is the stick approach
as compared to the carrot approach.
The carrot approach is "please pass on this email to many people because something good will happen"
The stick approach is "please pass on this email to many people because if you do not, we will hit you (something bad will happen)"
Both methods result in the same thing, the target gets tricked and passes on the email to many people, and the originator ends up "harvesting" more addresses which they can sell to spammers.
that threaten you if you do not take action
that threaten you if you do not take action
|The threat continues
"If this letter is not sent
out exactly 45 minutes after you have opened it your name will not be able
to be removed from our hacking list. Here is what happened when your name
is stuck on the ß®øöô¥ £.¼
hackers list. -Your MSN Instant messenger password is pulled out of MSN'S
files. Stupidly MSN stores your password on a password access website.
We have cracked the password needed and have access to every account
except for MSN guides (cat guides). We gain your credit card number,
social security number, and home address. -Your credit card information
and home address is stored at the MSN site and with that we can gain
your social security number. Everytime you sign on HOTMAIL, OR MSN
INSTANT MESSENGER your account will be messed
around with and much, much more with the power of ß®øöô¥
£.¼ hackers. -Don't believe this? We don't care at all
because not following the directions given will harm you in over 10 ways.
All you have to do is send this out to 10 people and ....."
scam involves a vulnerability in using the " * " features on phones in
urban areas. Most people know about * 69 and other common features, but
there are some less well known, which can get you in trouble. It is NOT
TRUE that pressing 90# will do anything.
Also, the email suggests that there is some urgency in sending this alert around and that is a fake too - the Peel Regional Police DI NOT sanction this. Even though the telephone number listed is the real number for Peel Region Crime Analyst, there is no one there named Meredith Williams - that is two years out of date. The info in this email has been circulating in the Toronto area for 2 years and Peel Region Police would prefer if people DI NOT pass it on because they are wasting time answering the phone to deal with this.
The purpose of this email
seems to be nothing other than a hoax joke.
|Area Code 809
"Phone Or Pager Scam - You receive a message on your answering machine or your pager which asks you to call a number beginning with area code 809. The reason you're asked to call varies: it can be to receive information about a family member who has been ill, to tell you someone has been arrested, died, to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc. In each case, you're told to call the 809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls. If you call from the US, you will apparently be charged $25 per-minute! Sometimes the person who answers the phone will speak broken English and pretend not to understand you. Other times, you'll just get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $100.00"
to Avoid Scams
|TIPS to Avoid Scams||10
Things to prevent getting Scammed from SCAM BUSTERS
1. Never purchase from a
bulk unsolicited email. (Spam you receive)
to avoid being scammed
List of things to know
This is a great page to look
up, to avoid scams when you work at home, when you are thinking about purchasing
a business or to avoid to become a victim of a scam. It teaches you many
steps and lists out examples of ways that you can possibliy be scammed.
Therefore, by viewing this page you are able to learn detailed information
regarding scams and to avoid them yourself.
"You know you're just about to get scammed by a work-at-home ad when...
How to Check A Company OutWhether you have those funny feelings about the claims of a company or not, do some background research on them.
yourself while on vacation; top
10 travel tips!
Protect yourself while on vacation; top 10 travel tips!
Information found at: http://www.cbs.gov.on.ca/mcbs/english/5WVN5K.htm
"The McGuinty government advises travellers to protect themselves and their money while on vacation. Consumer and Business Services Minister Jim Watson today announced the 10 top tips to help make a vacation safe and hassle-free."
yourself while on vacation; top
10 travel tips!
Purchase your travel services through an Ontario registered travel agency.
When you purchase your travel services through an Ontario registered travel
agency, you are protected by an industry financed Travel Compensation Fund
and the consumer protection provisions found under the Travel Industry
Act. For more information on the Travel Compensation Fund go to www.tico.on.ca
2.Be Prepared: Always verify the travel and identity documents you will need for your destination with a travel professional. Take only necessary financial and identity documents.
3.Protect Your Identity: Make two photocopies of all travel and identity documents. This will facilitate replacement if they should be lost or stolen. Take one set of copies with you and leave one in a secure location at home. Safely destroy the copies when you return home.
4.Get it in Writing: Obtain printed copies of all reservation confirmations including lodging and transportation. Make certain they include all the details you anticipate, itemized on the confirmations.
5.Take Precautions: Always consider purchasing both travel cancellation and out-of-province health insurance. Ask your registered travel agent for details.
6.Avoid Rip-Offs: If travelling by car, have your car tuned up before you go and make sure you get a written estimate for any repairs before you authorize the work to be done.
7.Read the Fine Print: Check the details of car rental agreements before you sign a contract.
8.Timeshare Beware: Look out for timeshare offers-if the deal is "good today only" walk away.
9.Emergency Know-How: Find and keep on hand the telephone numbers for police, medical attention and embassies or consulates in your travel location.
10.Vacationing at Home: Check out Ontario Tourism for great ideas on stay-at-home vacations.
|Sureha S. of
BCS 555 in October 2005 found a site discussing scams about fake lottery
Sureha explains in her words
|Click on the screen capture to the left, and, if the site is still up (still active Oct 2008), it will take you to four sections on current scams, protecting yourself from scams, hoaxes and viruses|
You Become The Victim Of A Scam
is the "sport" of making contact with the
For example , you say
"It's about those "Nigerian Scams" ... to counter attack these schemes, some people have taken to responding to the emails, feigning interest and pretending to actually believe the scams, while knowing full well that it is indeed a scam. What they have done is asked the scammers to send a photo of themselves to prove they are real. Often they will ask the scammers to put themselves in a ridiculous position or hold up a sign with something embarrassing written on it.
The most well known website for this is http://www.419eater.com. You can take a look at their "Trophy Room" and their "Hall of Shame" to get a good laugh. This one is my favourite: http://pictureisunrelated.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/wtf_pics-pickle-boys.jpg"
WTGR says if you Google ["pickle boys" scams] there are dozens of pics like this on the web
Fraud Losses Hit $437M
Internet-Related Fraud Complaints by Consumer Age, 2003
19 and under
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