Most of us think of hype as exaggerated or extravagant claims, made especially in advertising or promotional material. Sometimes it is deceptive and deliberately misleading. While we have become a bit immune to this through constant exposure, it always seems that someone comes up with a fresh approach that is not immediately recognized.
Con artists have been around since beginning of time, and are always willing to take advantage of another "hot prospect". But every scam has "red flags" and a little common sense should prevail so you do not fall prey to them. Let's examine a few we get by email everyday.
"Complimentary Vacation Package" - this one has been around a long time, but has now found its way to web. It starts off with "Congratulations! You will be our guest in Orlando, Florida, home of Walt Disney World, for 4 days and 3 nights. All compliments of major Vacation Resort Developers." Reading it, you might feel you have won a contest. In actuality, this is not case. It is a high pressure sales campaign designed to sell you a "timeshare" vacation package.
Another variation promises deeply discounted vacation packages. You pay for a package that seems great on surface, but in reality is either third rate accommodations or doesn't exist at all.
"Guaranteed Winner" - they state - "You're going to get one of these top five prizes, guaranteed!" In this scam you normally send some information, and either return it by email or fill out a form on a web site. They require that you supply your telephone number to be eligible. You will then be contacted by a telemarketer who confirms that you have been chosen for one of five "valuable" prizes; however, you must pay a processing fee for handling, customs duties or taxes, and you must send a check or money order to them by overnight mail. The prize usually winds up being small trinkets of minimal value, discount coupons or vouchers, worth far less than what you paid.
Or, you might receive an e-mail informing you that your order has been received and processed, and your credit card will be billed for charges. The trouble is, you haven't ordered anything. They contacted you using bulk email, using inactive return addresses which prevent you from refuting orders by email. They do provide a telephone number in area code 767, which is actually in West Indies. They try to keep callers on line as long as possible, and you are reportedly billed as much as $25 per minute. Be aware that your local telephone company may bill for services provided by other companies, and not be able to provide you relief.