I was stimulated by 'Racket Buster's citizens' mail on February 1 on
email fraud which is spearheading like a contagious disease at present.
Recently I was bombarded with telephone calls and emails from friends
who received a message in the same fashion described by Racket Buster
where a hacker stated that I was 'marooned in Madrid, lost all my
belongings and in a desperate situation for funds. He had nominated a
reputed international money transfer-agency to send money to 'me' which
'I could reimburse in three days of my return to base'.
Many friends got alarmed. Personally, I was overwhelmed with the
sincerity they exhibited thinking it was a genuine mishap. Some who had
heard about this game before informed me about the spam and advised to
change my password.
My friend Tony however was smart. He asked me to refrain from
responding to the charlatan; instead he reacted to the hacker from the
'reply mode'. To his incredulity, Tony received an account number, hotel
name and room number with a request to transfer 1,500 Euros. Tony's
clever move on such monkey pranks put an end to my 'head-ache.'
Subsequently I received an identical e-mail from another bilker from
Spain using a Sri Lankan email address with a similar plea.
There are many facets to this kind of conning the public on the
Internet. Recently a mail circulated impersonating Mozilla Firefox
Corporation advising recipients that their names had been picked up from
a Mozilla data base raffle and an amount of Sterling Pounds 750,000(
Rs.135,000,000) cash payment was waiting to be claimed within a week! It
was further strengthened by inserting a photograph, as a 'Director' of
Mozilla Corporation, his telephone number and a London address.
Out of curiosity and being investigative, I forwarded a 'cut and
paste' version of the document to Firefox customer services to check on
the authenticity of the contents and to get confirmation whether the
name and the photograph inserted in the mail was genuine. I even
followed it up by making an international telephone call to the number
given. Amazingly, the person named in the letter responded in a strong
American accent with a single sentence: "I will get back to you".
Naturally the bilker never came back to me.
As I started writing this column another spam arrived in my inbox
which stated in verbatim as follows:
"This is to inform you that you have won prize money of Sterling
Pounds 750,000.00 for this month of 2012 Lottery promotion which is
organized YAHOO & MSN LOTTERY INC &WINDOWS LIVE".
"YAHOO/MSN & MICROSOFT WINDOWS collects email addresses of people who
are actively online. Among millions who subscribed to Yahoo and Hotmail,
Gmail we only select five people every month as our winners through
electronic balloting system without the winner applying".
"We congratulate you for being one of the people selected. To claim
your winning prize contact UN (United Nation) office (with personal
details) by email: (email@example.com) - Management Yahoo & Msn United
Kingdom, Yahoo & Msn Headquarters Baley House, Har Road Sutton, SM1 4TE
United Kingdom. Dated: 28:01:2012"
Similar to these, there are other types of deceptive e-mails
frequently hitting peoples' mail boxes from various banks (of reputed
names), some introducing as Solicitors from Africa, Executors and
Guardians of Wills of dead personnel who had left a fortune under a
Unfortunately many fall prey due to sheer greed innocently believing
they are in for a windfall but little realising the damage they are
causing to themselves by exposing their personal details to racketeers
who can get up to many tomfoolery.
Another subtle form of collecting email addresses is by sending
messages of spiritual type with religious pictures and promising good
luck and fortune. The intimidating aspect of such mail is the
psychological threat inbuilt into the message of punitive consequences
if the receiver breaks the chain letter.
In the same fashion there are organizations that collect email
addresses for marketing purposes which is known as 'internet-based, paid
work from home'.
Here too some fall prey by not only giving their details, and at
times parting with payments, but exposing all known email addresses to
So far the only consolation an email user gets out of a search engine
under 'email fraud' is a warning statements stating thus:
"Due to the widespread use of web bugs in email, simply opening an
email can potentially alert the sender that the address to which the
email is sent is a valid address. This can also happen when the mail is
'reported' as spam, in some cases: if the email is forwarded for
inspection, and opened, the sender will be notified in the same way as
if the addressee opened it".
"E-mail fraud may be avoided by keeping one's email address as secret
as possible; Using a spam filter;
Noticing the several spelling errors in the body of the 'official
looking' e-mail; ignoring unsolicited emails of all types; simply
deleting them; Not giving in to greed, since greed is often the element
that allows one to be 'hooked'. Many frauds go unreported to
authorities, due to shame, guilt or embarrassment".
These are serious internet crimes which slippery swindlers are
getting up to. Surely isn't there a way of tracking down on this type of
transgression by Interpol or Internet policing to save public from
It is equally unfortunate that alongside the exceptional advancement
in Information Technology, broadening of crooked brains too have been on
the increase to such a pitch that even the electronic industry is
heading towards jeopardy.
Although computer owners/users pay good money to install virus guards
purely to avoid electronic junk mail, yet the sad aspect is that no
electronic prodigy has yet been able to discover anything which is
hundred percent foolproof. I guess what we have left with is to continue
to live with crooks all the time in this world.