Email claiming to be a notification of a traffic ticket for speeding from the New York State Police urges the recipient to print out the ticket contained in an attached file and post it to the Town Court.
Message circulating on Facebook claims that Facebook will soon start charging for access but those who repost the message on their walls will get to keep their free accounts if their Facebook icon turns blue.
Email purporting to be from the IRS claims that the recipient's tax return was not able to be processed and that he or she should fill out and return forms contained in an attached file in order to rectify the problem.
In their scam emails, advance fee scammers often pose as staff from legal firms, financial institutions, well known companies or government departments. A quick way of gauging the veracity of their claims is to have a look at the email address they are asking you to use to contact them. Typically, online scammers use free, easily disposable webmail addresses such as Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail. It is quite unlikely that any legitimate company, bank or government department will contact people using a free webmail account. Normally, such entities would use email addresses that reflect their company or department name or their website address.
Thus, if a person representing himself as an agent of a large company or government department is using a free webmail account, then his claims should be viewed with suspicion. Of course, this alone is not enough to conclusively indicate that an email is a scam as there may possibly be legitimate reasons why a webmail account might be used on occasions. But it should be enough to ring alarm bells and prompt you to check very thoroughly before believing any claims in the message.
Email warning claims that a scammer can take over your mobile phone if you key in #90. The message also claims that a phone virus is circulating that can erase the SIM card of the infected mobile phone.
Circulating slide presentation claims that, at around 40 years of age, eagles go through a painful 5 month process of rebirth in which they remove and regrow their beak, talons and feathers thereby allowing them to live another 30 years.
Email forward claims that attached photographs show a Utah townhouse filled with 8 years worth of beer cans.
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Spam is a massive problem that continues to erode the effectiveness of the Internet. Of course, there are a lot of very smart people out there doing their best to combat the problem in various ways.
But, sometimes, the most basic spam strategy of all can get a little lost in the heat of the battle.
DO NOT BUY FROM SPAMMERS!
If you buy any sort of product or service from a spammer whatsoever, you are contributing to the problem. In fact, those who buy from spammers are the root cause of the problem. I consider those who buy from spammers to be as equally culpable as the spammers themselves.
Of course, it would be hopelessly naive to believe that, somehow, everyone will suddenly get the message and stop buying from spammers. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen anytime soon!
That said, we can at least ensure that no slimy, guttersnipe spammer ever gets a single cent from us. We can also promote the simple message that buying from spammers is simply unacceptable. Such grassroots action might be more effective than you think.
One website whose purpose is to promote this message is SpamDon'tBuy.org. The name says it all! The site provides more information about the Don't Buy It strategy and, if you run a website, you can promote the message by including a "Spam. Don't Buy It." icon like the one below.