Fighting the Scams

Posted on Wednesday 19 September 2007

I’m not sure about you, but I have been fighting email scams ever since I first started getting Internet email way back in the 80’s.

While I learned quickly, and found the tools and resources to help me identify what may or may not be for real, there have been a host of people out there who just can’t seem to tell the real from the unreal.

I’m not really concerned about all those chain-emails that are out there. They are a nuisance I admit, but they are a “normal” extension of the old chain-mail letters that used to exist and some people seem to be addicted to them!

Yes, I agree that if one person sends out an email to a group of your friends that promises; luck, or bad luck, or better relationships, or, or, or…. that you will shortly be inundated by the same email coming from several friends in the group. The best way you can fight these is three fold:

  1. Don’t participate!
  2. If you have to participate delete all the email addresses listed within the email all ready AND put all the addresses that you are sending to in the BCC: window of your email editor and not the To:
  3. Tell your friends to do the same!

My bigger concern is with the “other scams” the ones that promise false aid or succor to someone who may, or may have needed it, to quick riches, or worse, phishing attacks. I am constantly advising others when they accidentally become involved with either propagating, or worse participating in these activities.

One of the biggest problems for anyone who wishes to do this on their own, is to find a reliable, authoritative source that you can depend upon to give you honest and straightforward answers with no particular ax to grind. To see what I mean just try this:

  1. Go to
  2. Type in the word scam space and
  3. Then add one of the reputable Network Marketing companies names (like Amway, Nikken or Melaleuca)
  4. Hit return

It’s amazing to see how many thousands of axes are grinding away out there! To help you navigate out of the quagmire, here are my top 5 reputable sites, with two honorable mentions, that I use to investigate whether something is true, or too good to be true.

  1. has to be, as I write this, my favorite site, its focus is on Urban Legends. Covering both the Internet, rumor and in some cases even news reports. It gives great detail on the legend in question and identifies it as true or false or unknown. It also comes with a search engine which can make your investigating quick and painless. One warning I do have to give is that you can easily waste away hours investigating trivia and true stories that you never knew existed!
  2. – While I have moved away from Mcaffee’s computer scanning software, due mainly to it’s high load and overhead required to run on a busy computer, I still think that they have one of the best advisory sites for Internet threats. It lists such things as the top ten programs you don’t want to install and the current top ten subject lines used for email scams. It too comes with a search capability based on the area.
  3. – is an excellent site and one of the ones that I use now that the RCMP no longer maintains an updated scam warning site. As I mentioned previously, I’ve found that most anti-scam sites are actually anti-(pick a network marketing company) sites, so it is hard to get an unbiased opinion. Scambusters comes close, but unfortunately it is heavily supported by Google ads. The effect being that if one searches for a Network Marketing company or MLM company that may exist, you will also get a list of ads pertaining to that company which may or may not be negative. To the unwary this can be confusing. One advantage with this site, if you are so inclined, is that you can subscribe to email updates on new scams as they occur.
  4. – has been up and running since May 2007 and already has an extensive list of companies and organizations that phishing expeditions have happened with or are a concern. Phishing is growing at an alarming rate. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRUCUMSTANCES click on a link or reply to any email that “appears” to have come from a company with whom you deal financially. Contact them directly, either by phone or by your trusted bookmarks.
  5. – is supported by an organization set up to help people find, identify and report phishing incidents. The problem is that this site is very technically orientated and can overwhelm easily. Finding information can be difficult. It does however contain lots of really good information, articles, links and even recommended software. Here is a great article that describes just how a phishing could occur, in this case with malicious intent against castlecops themselves!
  6. – this particular website rated next to last on my list. Not because it lacked information, but rather because it almost had too much. It’s a little unwieldy and sometimes difficult to find the particular bit of information that you might be looking for. It unfortunately also suffered from the same sort of search and advertising problem as scambusters. Lastly, it also gave several borderline reports on a list of MLM companies that I tested (see above).
  7. RCMP Scam and Frauds Website – this used to be a great site, with all sorts of up to date information on what was and wasn’t a scam. Unfortunately they seem to have dramatically changed it into just an overview site. It has excellent guidelines on how to avoid a scam and what to do if you should be approached or get involved. It just doesn’t have an “is this” or “is this not” feature any more. If it ever returns to what it once was, it would again be my favorite site.

Lastly, if you are looking for statistical information on fraud and Internet crime, the government of Australia has a website which contains or points to many reports and statistics that are available on the subject. It can be found at

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