What can you do about Internet fraud?

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Desperate? Are you ready for internet fraud

Desperate times call for desperate measures. People can and, in most cases, will do almost anything to get out of trouble, including falling for Internet scams. Heroically, even miraculously, some of the luckiest are able to fight their way out of the mess. Unfortunately, the number of people taking advantage of a virtually endless variety of Internet scams far outnumbers the lucky few. Sadly, these people go from motherly despair to utter devastation.

So what is it that makes people continually fall victim to internet scams? Scammers know all too well that their brands are easily targeted out of fear, greed, or even seemingly innocent curiosity. These are common traits built into all human beings on the planet. This makes it not only possible, but most likely, at one time or another, we are all vulnerable to internet scams.

Fear and fraud on the Internet

Fear is one of the most powerful human emotions. It is a basic survival mechanism designed to alert us to danger. As master mages, con men create situations that strike intense fear in the masses. Having successfully created the illusion, it’s an easy step to present your internet scams as possible solutions.

It is interesting to note that most of the fear is directed towards the future. In other words, we tend to use fear to imagine or predict the most dire and undesirable outcomes. Most of the time, these become self-fulfilling prophecies. Everything could be going well in your life today, but what if…? That’s why Internet scams go to such lengths to develop the appearance of missing or lost.

  • “If you don’t act right now, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will be gone forever”
  • “Swine flu is rampant in your neighborhood! Here’s what you need to do to protect yourself now”
  • “Businesses are downsizing or shutting down completely. Your pink slip is coming up next. Never worry about job security again with our…”

What makes fear-based Internet scams so effective is that they always include enough “truth” and “proof” to convince even the most die-hard skeptics, especially if those people are currently in the same situations. Fear is too powerful an emotion to ignore when evoked as a threat to life.

Greed and Internet Fraud

When I think of greed, I see a big, pompous, cigar-smoking, ruthless business tycoon: a fat, corrupt cat who uses everything and everyone for his own gain and crushes everything that gets in his way; just the kind of seedy scum behind internet scams. “That’s definitely not me,” I hear you say. True enough. But is this the ONLY way humans show greed?

Like fear, greed is another ingrained emotion found in each of us. Let’s face it, most of us dream of a better life, and the word ‘better’ usually implies ‘easier’. For example, how many of these Internet scams have you reviewed lately?

  • “If I could show you an easy way to make double the money you’re making now in half the time, would you be interested?”
  • “Eat the foods you love, as much as you want. And forget sweating during all those boring, painful exercises. Just kick back and take this pill three times a day with every meal and watch the pounds melt away.”
  • “Can’t find love? Our never-before-seen exclusive dating service will match you with your soulmate tonight!”

Now reading any of these ‘ads’ usually triggers BIG #6 for most of us. (My wife Maggie and I took a personality course where #6 was a detailed description of the skeptic!) But for those hopelessly stuck in these scenarios, they are open to Internet scams. For whatever reason, they just can’t see through all the smoke and mirrors created by scammers.

Innocent Curiosity and Internet Fraud

We live in the information age. We need to know! Scammers KNOW this and count on it when developing their Internet scams.

  • “See never-before-seen photos and videos of Michael Jackson’s performances at Neverland Ranch”
  • “Hurricane Katrina tore the heart out of New Orleans in 2005. However, new storms now brewing in the tropics and targeting the US will make Katrina look like ‘Singing in the Rain’. Read More. ..”
  • “You’ve won the Timbuktu Billion Dollar Grand National Lottery. For a nominal fee (deducted from your winnings so it costs you nothing) we’ll take care of all the international banking details for you. Simply complete the forms below… “

Celebrities… Global disasters… what if we DO win the lottery? Nothing is sacred about internet scams. In any case, they feed voraciously on the misery and misfortunes of other people.

Innocent curiosity plays with our imaginations, stimulating the aforementioned fear and greed. They say that curiosity killed the cat. It can also cripple his computer, as opening suspicious emails can trigger viruses that can wipe out his hard drive. As for the forms he filled out… say goodbye to privacy; hello identity theft!

A Word to the Wise About Internet Fraud

I myself could be accused of using scare tactics as I write this article. However, having been the victim of more than a few scams on the internet and even more scams in the real world, I advise you to err on the side of caution.

I’ll be the first to admit that following my own advice is pretty hard. Isn’t it usually like that? Do we need to practice what we preach more? In my case, I am well anchored by a very strong #6 in Maggie. It is better to be a little disappointed today than to be totally annihilated and devastated tomorrow. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself from Internet scams:

  • Routinely install and RUN antivirus, spyware, and identity protection programs on your computer
  • Fill in the minimum information on the forms…name and email maximum. Use fictitious names and disposable email accounts like Hotmail or Gmail for anything you’re not sure about.
  • Print the website’s privacy policy and see what they can do with your information. (You will be very surprised!) Don’t have a privacy policy? Don’t give them your information!
  • Do your due diligence. Remember that Internet scams use fear, greed, and curiosity as their primary tactics. Check everything and everyone thoroughly before giving away your information and/or your money. If it sounds too good to be true…well, do you need to hear this again?
  • Get yourself a good skeptic, someone you know and trust, and LISTEN, especially if you find yourself in dire straits. (I know most of you won’t do this. Like I said, this advice is harder for me to follow. But I can’t tell you how many times I wish I had heard it!)

Having said all this, the web is a wonderful place where Internet scams are only a small part! Most information is provided by honest, hard-working people with the best of intentions… people just like you.

Even better, there are people online right now, thirsty for what you know in a way that only you can offer. By caring for others and being willing to share, you can build your own Internet wealth over time.

Just thinking of the endless possibilities… ah, you gotta love that feeling!

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