Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Those stupid thieves

Two days in a row, I had been receiving separate emails offering me huge amounts of money I can never ever earn even by working for 20 years.

One email came from someone who claimed to be from Singapore and is the external auditor for the United Overseas Bank. His name is Mr. Feng Zhao.

Mr. Zao said in the email that an investor with $15.7 million (not specified whether Singapore or United States dollar) died without any next of kin. He wanted me to act as the next of kin so that the money could be transferred to my account and for this effort, I will be given 20 percent of the amount plus the interest.

The other email came from a certain Azhar Asjad from Ivory Coast. Asjad said that his father was serving as director of a cocoa exporting board until he was assassinated by rebels in political uprising. His father left US$5.2 million which he and his mother wants to invest in my country in my name.

What huge amounts which could have been easily enticing but I was never enticed at all. I did not even spend one second to Google about them or the banks, places and circumstances mentioned. Had I done that, I would have lumped my self among their kind – the stupids.

This kind of scheme, Phishing, as it also called because these scammers fish for information, has existed for many years already. In many phishing activities in past, those thieves use masked internet addresses to lure potential victims into their sites to give confidential information. Many big, legitimate and well known websites have been used by phishers. For instance, paypal and eBay have been used. What these criminals do is that they change a few characters in the address. Paypal.com can easily become paypa1.com. Can you notice that I just changed the letter “l” to the number “1”? The victim who does not notice this will land on a webpage that will look exactly as the page of the website that is being spoofed and he will begin to input the confidential data which will lead him to his doom.

This kind of activity has made 9.9 million Americans victims while costing financial and business institutions lose $48 billion in Septmber 2003, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

I am not sure how many have been lured through the email scheme. But for the record, these email phishing is really easy to spot. First, the grammar is atrocious. Second, the offer is too good to be true. Third, a total stranger offers huge amounts to another stranger.

I pity these scammers but I pity the victims even more. Perhaps everything boils down to one common factor in both parties: greed. Ignorance is tolerable but greed is not.

I take consolation on the fact that despite the advances in technology, phishing scheme has deteriorated very badly. Read the emails and notice the grammar and spelling and you will know why.

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