Scams, Chain Letters and Other Pests

Every few months I get an email forward (of a forward) from family members warning me about this, that or the other thing. At times it’s just to me other times I’m CC’ed along with their entire address book. On the plus side these occurrences are happening less and less, though I hope that’s because they’re getting wise to the mass of scams out there. Non-the-less, they still happen and it makes me wonder how big of an issue this really is outside of my bubble of tech savvy friends.

Though those of you reading this are more than likely more tech savvy than world at large I’m sure you have family and friends sending you similar stuff. How do you explain to them they can Google the claims or usually even the email’s subject line to find out this scam has run for years? How often are you pointing them to Snopes or other debunking sites so it’s not your word versus the hype of a well crafted scam?

I know it’s a game of cat and mouse, once you educate the masses to verify sender & reply to email address, URL names and other tell-tale signs the scam artists add a little twist re-ensnaring the less informed. For example, the one featured above struck me as well crafted to skirt past the slightly informed as it has “bankofamerica.com” in the URL, but rather than being followed up with a “/” it’s just part of a long list of sub-domains. (I’ve removed a few characters for when some smart-ass wants to follow the link and mark the receiver’s email as valid and the receiver as gullible to scams).

If it sounds too good to be true or sounds like something that should have been on the nightly news but hasn’t it’s probably a scam. This is no different when online as it would be face-to-face though some seem to forget their sense of “street smarts” once they’re online. As a User Experience Designer I wonder what causes this difference of reaction between online and the physical world. Is it the feeling of being overwhelmed by technology? That it must be true as so many others are sharing it as truth? Any thoughts?

Ok, now send this to 5+ friends in the next 24-hours to save a young Nigerian prince in need of a new career.

Comments

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  1. It’s probably because people believe if it came from a friend it must be reliable. and that friend probably got it from their friend and had the same idea. People forget that online “friend of a friend” is still as unreliable as hearing things that way is in real life. also, chain letter scams may not be happening quite as much via email, but that’s not because they’ve gone away. Unfortunately for some reason I do not understand, people have migraged this junk over to social networks, which are the big thing on the internet right now. There are so many junky Youtube comments, retweets, Facebook wall, group and chain status posts now.

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