Stop Being a Jerk, Part 4 (Scammer Edition)

You’re sitting at your computer checking your e-mail for the fourth time in five minutes when a new message appears in your inbox. You eagerly open the message to discover that you could get 40% of $6.5 million. Now, who doesn’t want 40% of $6.5 million? I know I do. Unfortunately, the e-mail is part of a scam that’s been circling the Internet for years. Some people have decided to interact with the Nigerian scammers, including this guy (read here).

Recently, my friend was telling me about how her stepfather got involved in one of these schemes to “research” it. I guess he’d been watching too much CSI or something. He gave the scammers his home phone number causing these people to call at all hours of the night. Eventually, he told them he was “investigating” them and they stopped calling. As funny as the story is, the truth is that scammers suck and people do fall prey to their schemes.

1. E-mail scammers are jerks because they try to lure unsuspecting folks their web of lies. While I’m part of the Internet generation, many older folks are not. They get internet access to keep in touch with their kids or grandkids at college or as part of a solution to their midlife crisis. These people are on social security or close to it. They want to pay off their mortgage or help a newly married kid buy his first house. Naturally, getting a piece of the million dollar pie is going to be appealing.

If you think an e-mail isn’t legit, you’re probably right. You can even check out the current internet scams at Scambusters.org. People want to steal your money, your identity, and your savings. Don’t let the jerks get the upper hand. Oh, and young people, pass a link to Scambusters on to your parents.

2. Pretending to be someone famous online makes you a jerk. While some misguided teens visit my blog, read a post about Hannah Montana, and leave a message for me thinking I’m the teen pop sensation, I am clearly not posing as Hannah Montana (although I did see some Hannah Montana wigs for sale at the beauty supply store the other day–think I should make a go of it?)

An old pal of mine left a comment for me the other day, and since he was in a Christian band that was one quite popular (and still is for die-hard enthusiasts) I had to to make sure his comment was legit (I’d tell you who it is, but name-dropping irritates the heck of out of me. Maybe I should do a “Name Dropper” edition of Stop Being a Jerk). According to my research, it is. But I also noticed that an large amount of people have made fake profiles for the guy all over the place. Apparently, it was worse at the height of my friend’s stardom, and even now, the imitators continue to hassle the poor guy.

Pretending to be a celebrity (especially a former Christian rocker) is not only lame, it’s downright mean. Teen girls love Zac Efron, which is evident as there are at least 20 people posing as him on Facebook. If you’re gonna impersonate a High School Musical star, at least impersonate Lucas Grabeel. It’s a bit more believable that he would be on Facebook.

3. Stealing people’s identities is not nice. I’m tired of hearing about identity theft, credit card fraud, and all the other ways thieves break into our lives and steal what we have worked hard to save. While they probably don’t care that they’re ruining people’s credit reports, finances, and lives, they also don’t realize the amount of time poor person has to spend on the phone with lackadaisical customer service representatives.

While muzak plays on the line, an identity theft victim is forced to wait three hours for assistance. When she finally gets a live person (hopefully), she is further victimized by the rep’s lack of people skills and broken English. Try to explain identity theft to someone in the Philippines with a heavy accent; it ain’t easy. The whole customer “service” nightmare in and of itself adds horror to an otherwise unpleasant situations making identity thieves bigger jerks than initially thought.

4. You’re a jerk if you lie about the crap you sell on Ebay and other online sellers. While I’ve had many positive Ebay experiences (my cockatiel’s cage, my Playstation 1, some pop culture collectibles), I’ve also had a couple of negative ones. One time I bought “hobbit” bumper stickers and didn’t receive them in the mail weeks after paying for them. I registered a complaint with the seller, who promised to send them right away. It’s five years later, and I still haven’t received the merchandise. I issued a complaint to Ebay, who did nothing. My loss amounted to less than $10, but still…not cool.

Another time, I was supposed to get professional press photos autographed by a certain actor for my roomie. Not only were the photos missing the autograph, they were obviously a home printing job. I could have done that myself and faked the signature. I also lodged a complaint, but still nothing from Ebay. Be careful what you buy!

5. Phishers suck. Wikipedia defines phishing like this, “phishing is an attempt to criminally and fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as user names and  passwords.  eBay, PayPal and online banks are common targets. Phishing is typically carried out by email or instant messaging, and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. ” According to the FBI, phishing activity is highest in January and February after the jerks have spent the holiday shopping season collecting information (Reuters article).

Don’t be a victim to these online scammers who want to steal your stuff. In fact, visit the FBI’s website for tips on how to take a bite out of Internet crime. As for all you scammers and con artists out there, stop being a jerk already!

Read more about jerks…

Stop Being a Jerk, Part 1

Stop Being a Jerk, Part 2

Stop Being a Jerk, Part 3 (Internet Edition)

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