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Advice on Internet Scams

Updated on June 22, 2008
Charles Ponzi, the man who gave his name to Ponzi schemes.
Charles Ponzi, the man who gave his name to Ponzi schemes.

Get the Specific Facts!

I know I already did a brief section on Internet scams when I posted my first topic on starting an Internet business, but it seems the subject is worthy of deeper consideration, so here goes.

There is no such thing as get rich quick without work. Period, end of story, it will never happen. While you can hear stories of people "making it" almost overnight, the ten to twenty years of work they put into their chosen field tends to be seriously overlooked. Rock stars had to learn to play their instrument, comedians had to learn showmanship, and we have to learn the Internet.

Any "deal" that promises you easy money without work is a scam by definition. Anytime you try to sell anything, you have to actually work at it. You have to do market research, you have to write sales pitches that actually work, you have to learn to provide a good value for people's money, and you have to learn to provide the information people are searching on for free. When working on the Internet, you must learn how to do keyword research and at least the basics of search engine optimization so you don't write stupid copy. You don't have to learn all the HTML misery anymore, most of it is irrelevant now and the rest is against search engine policy, but you do need to learn to stay ON TOPIC for your keywords. Learning to do all of that and putting it into practice takes time.

Most "work at home" deals are also scams of one kind or another. The idea is that you work at home for somebody else, when you turn in your work they pay you for the amount of work you did. They'll pay you substandard wages, if they pay you at all. In addition, this practice is against most tax laws because they're trying to pay you as if you were an independent contractor when you're only working for them. This leaves you paying double taxes, at least in the US. However, many of these scams aren't based in a country you can sue in, so guess who's left holding the bag.

Anything that promises to teach you "secrets" is trying to sell you something you could learn on your own for free by taking the time to read. Don't fall for it. While there are good classes out there offered through the Internet on various subjects, such as herbalism, copywriting, and so forth, usually you don't need them to start out. Once you gain a bit of experience in your chosen field you'll be in a much better position to judge the worth of any given course of study.

Never, ever believe that you've been chosen to be a financial facilitator or that somebody needs your help releasing an inheritance. These are called attempted identity theft or outright fraud.

Never accept or send through Western Union, period, ever. Don't send through PayPal if it's for a large amount of money, use Escrow.com instead. Don't use any escrow service EXCEPT Escrow.com, there are a lot of scammers out there pretending to be escrow services. If somebody says they don't trust Escrow.com and want to use their own, run. They're trying to scam you and the escrow service they suggest is probably owned by a relative. You can check out Escrow.com for yourself, they're certified through the State of California, provide both a phone number and a physical address, and will happily direct you to the FBI's information on fraudulent transaction services. If the FBI has a warning up about financial transactions in a particular country, don't deal with anybody from that country.

If the service in question is not financial, the company may not publish their phone number and address online. I'm a work-from-home copywriter, and I don't leave my number and address out where it can be found. However, if I have a client who uses my contact form and wants the info, I'm happy to give it at that point. Don't trust anybody who can't give you a callback number or a physical office address.

Don't take anybody's word on ANYTHING for granted, including mine. Learn to check things out yourself. Any reputable business should be able to provide you with a phone number and an address, at least on request. You can check the address in question through their local information service or government office. Go through your Internet life with a critical eye. Don't go giving your personal information out to everybody. It's safe to say you can trust companies like Google, PayPal, Ebay and so on, but keep good security measures on your computer. A good hacker can put a viral or Trojan program on your computer that records and transmits the addresses, phone numbers, tax information and passwords you key in.

And remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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    • Loni L Ice profile imageAUTHOR

      Loni L Ice 

      10 years ago from Lawrence, KS

      You're quite welcome! I see way too many people fall for far too many scams and give up, so I thought it was worth chipping my two cents in.

      Another thing I hate as a professional copywriter are the ads that say "We've tested the work from home programs, and 97% of them are scams. Come find out the two that aren't." This is called an advertising ploy. They didn't spend the money to check all of the programs out, they're advertising for one of the programs and are using scare tactics!

    • guidebaba profile image

      guidebaba 

      10 years ago from India

      Thanks for all the explanation.

    • Loni L Ice profile imageAUTHOR

      Loni L Ice 

      10 years ago from Lawrence, KS

      Thanks for dropping by, and for the info about where to report them! I use Hotmail's "report phishing scam" link a lot, but that's handy information for my non-Hotmail accounts.

    • profile image

      Barb 

      10 years ago

      Very good advice! I also want to add that when you receive emails that are "supposedly" form Paypal, E-Gold, Ebay, etc. and they ask you to click on the link within the email to update your information, do not do it. Report it to spoof@paypal.com or spoof@Ebay.com. Not sure of the links for the other ones but you can find information about them all on each website. These places will never ask you to click on a link in your email to enter private information.

    • Loni L Ice profile imageAUTHOR

      Loni L Ice 

      10 years ago from Lawrence, KS

      Thanks for pointing that out. Indeed, always worry about getting redirected to a mirror site. In addition, watch out for "please click on this link and enter your information" scams, PayPal mimics LOVE that one. If somebody emails you saying "You may have been hacked and you need to click on the link below to verify your information" just go directly to the site in question by typing in the address yourself.

    • robertsloan2 profile image

      robertsloan2 

      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Recently, the photo hosting service Photobucket -- a big reliable free hosting service that's ad supported, there's lots of ads on all the pages -- got hacked and for 24-48 hours, everyone's Photobucket images were broken on eBay. If you clicked on the broken image to see the photo, which sometimes works with real Photobucket links, you got redirected to a page advertising webhosting and a company -- it was a confusingly worded scam that sounded official and didn't say much of anything except to warn about companies that offer free hosting but then change it to paid, then go on to talk about their service. The hosting service of the scam got on and made a public statement they were not consulted in it and were taking measures including refusing service to the scamming company. It got cleared up -- but these things happen sometimes to links that you have reason to assume will bring you to a large reputable company you're used to dealing with.

      Thought I'd add this to your excellent article.

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