Thursday, January 12, 2006

Scammers are Clever

I'm sure we've all heard about the phenomenon of "phishing." That's when some official looking email threatens to cut off your account at somewhere like eBay unless you immediately click on the embedded link to the ersatz web site and provide your account information.

These people are good at their evil purposes.

They have mastered copying logos and symbols to look like the real thing. They hijack web addresses that look legit. With each variation on the theme, they become more adept at the language of fear within reason.

Used to be you could spot them because they misspelled some critical words. I think there were two reasons for this. One was because many of these scams originate in countries where English is not the native tongue. The other is the rush to push these emails out. Their success rate is not high so they operate on the theory that thousands of emails can work if they get just one "phish" to take the bait.

If you happen to have one of these schemes come your way, either ignore it or forward it to the party being emulated. Two such addresses are and

Another variation on this theme is the "overpayment". We had someone who wanted to buy a high-end item we had on our Web site. They offered to send a money order for the purchase price but, since they were collecting a debt from a third party, would we accept a larger amount, deposit it and give them a refund for the difference between the money order and the price of the item. They were willing to send a runner to our shop to pick up the difference. We played along but set up some hurdles of our own. Ultimately, the "buyer" stopped emailing. We either lost a large sale or saved a lot of money.

A recent newspaper article confirmed our feeling that it was the latter. A local fishing charter captain received a reservation for an excursion from someone in Dublin, Ireland. They sent a $5,000 cashier's check for a trip that was only supposed to cost $3,000. As the date for the excursion approached, the captain got another email. The party was still coming, but one of them was ill and would not be able to make it. Could the captain send a check for $2,000 as a refund of that portion of the prepayment?

The captain wisely checked his bank for the status of the supposedly "good-as-cash" cashier's check and learned that it had been refused as a counterfeit. Fortunately, he checked the bank, which had not previously notified him of the rejection.

So, be careful out there.

Part of the psychology that tmakes these con artists successful is the inherent tendency toward "dishonesty" in the human spirit. If the captain had thought he had received too much as a mistake and he was willing to take advantage of it, because it was a cashier's check, after all, he might have sent the $2,000 and thought he was ahead of the game. If we had been so desperate as to accept our potential buyer's overpayment, we could have suffered a similar fate.

We pride our selves in being 100% legitimate. If you do business with one of our websites - ; ; or you will find that everything we offer is guaranteed authentic and has a 14-day return privilege. If you are unhappy with it when it arrives at your house, send it back for a full refund of your purchase price. (Just don't ask us to launder your money or your counterfeit cashier's checks.)

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