The Biggest Internet Scam In Recent History.
By Michael Miller
Are you interested in hearing about the biggest internet scam in recent
history? NO! Would you be interested if you discovered that it is possibly you
that was scammed several months ago and did not even know it? In fact, if you
were scammed back then you probably have had money removed from your bank
account every month AND you may not even know you are losing your money. Now
you are interested!
This foundation for this breech of internet security started a couple of years
ago as a gift from your caring politicians and bureaucrats in the form of bank
funds electronic transfer legislation. Simple stated, if you owe anyone money
they (whoever) can ‘electronically’ withdraw it from your account without your
permission if they have a contract in place.
A few weeks back a neighbor lady came to me venting her disapproval because
some unknown and unnamed internet company had cleaned out her banking account.
She was going to complain, bring legal suit and if she could find a real person
she was going to do really mean things. It took 5 minutes and three questions
to find out she was into a legal binding electronic contract she knew nothing
Questions 1: Did you buy and download (very key) any information from the
internet. Usually a CD or something similar. Answer-YES.
Question 2: Did you knowingly enter into a binding contract with these people.
Answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT!! Real answer-Yes
Question 3: Did you read all the fine print including the “Terms and Services”.
Answer: NO, BUT I KNOW THERE WAS NO CONTRACT OF ANY SORT. Real answer-NO I did
not read the fine print.
After displaying the website it took the whole of about 15-20 milliseconds to
see the scam. I had to explain it three times before the dear lady could see
it. Then the next question: “What can I do? I have tried to stop it.” The
result was she had to close out here bank account to kill the credit card.
Here is how it works. Either through email or PPC or some other way you end up
on a webpage that, for example, guarantees to make you $187,594.26 in 30
minutes while working at home 10 minutes a day. Maybe this is slightly
exaggerated but you get the picture. They usually have a CD that will give you
all the information you need to carry off this money making project. Normally
this CD would cost $99 but if you act within the next 2 hours, being the good
guy you are you get it for free.
Now this is great deal. What is not to like? Wait there is one more thing. It
only fair that since the CD is free that you should pay the shipping and
handling. I think that is only fair don’t you. Stop and read the above
paragraph carefully again. What is wrong with this scenario? Where is the big
red flapping flag!
DA!? This is the internet remember. The keywords are digital, electronic, and
downloadable. If the information is electronically downloadable why send it by
snail mail? What does this transaction yield to the creditor website? Your
credit card information! Why is that a worry, the shipping cost is so small;
Now Question 2 comes into focus. Somewhere on the website there is a free trail
offer (usually 15-30 days) that comes with a ‘on line resident expert’
attached. If the CD doesn’t contain all the information you need the expert is
on call to answer your questions. He/she might not speak English or have any
relevant knowledge or experience on the subject but you get the free service
for 15-30 days notwithstanding.
Here comes the neat part. Look at question 3 again. Did you read the fine print
included in the terms and conditions? Of course not, no one reads that stuff. I
bet you do from now on. Somewhere in the fine print it will say something like.
‘You can unsubscribe from the normal service of the expert within the trial
period (15-30 days) and there will be no penalty. However, if you do not
unsubscribe we will take the normal amount (usually $20-40) out of your credit
card account monthly.” But, you say, that does not a contract make. You are
absolutely correct. Except!
It is the little check box down where you enter you credit card information for
the handling and shipping to get your ‘free’ CD that causes all the problems.
“Buy checking this box you agree to all the terms and conditions” of the
website – meaning the month to month withdrawal of your funds if you do not
unsubscribe during the free trail period. That constitutes a legal contract
under the electronic signature legislation. You have just agreed to send that
company a monthly payment for services for the rest of you life or until you
Hold on, it only gets better. How many people do you know that really check
their credit card statements in detail every month? Apparently not enough. A
$30 withdrawal might stay hidden in your 4+ page credit card statement for
months. Then when you do find it try to get it stopped. I tracked down an
internet company doing this very thing; it took about three days of intense
research. I sent an email to the highest officer we could find demanding to
stop, stating we had no contract. I got back an email with the following
answer; “Oh yes you do.’ He was correct.
The moral of this story is simple. You must prevent this scam before it begins.
In writing or generating legal documents of any kind, especially
electronically, there is one absolute generic rule. “READ THE MAIL, UNDERSTAND
THE MAIL and ANSWER THE MAIL”
In other words if you are reading and understanding every word on a website,
conduct your business with confidence. If not my recommendation is “DO NOT
ELECTRONCIALLY SIGN ANY THING, IT MAY CONTAIN A HIDDEN CONTRACT”. Read the fine
print. Make sure you know exactly what you are electronically signing. Answer
ever detail with personal knowledge as to what it means; even if you have to
read the terms and conditions a dozen times. Reject them if there are any
Internet security is a serious matter that can only be controlled through
knowledge by those people using the internet. Do not rely on a piece of
software or a firewall entirely. Internet scams are perpetrated by very
intelligent people that can think and work around most internet security
Remember what Smokey the Bear says; “Only you can prevent internet scams!”
Well, if he didn’t say it he should have.
P.T. Barnum did say. “There is a sucker born every minute.”
I say on the internet there are one million suckers born every minute.
About the Author:
Mike Miller is the developer of the holistic family online Family iMall with the new concept of online
shopping 'informational speciality ishops' such as the World Wide Fishing Charter ishop.