Red FlagsWritten by Bob Osgoodby
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. There are a number of "Red Flags:" being raised.
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.
Before you spend that money, let's talk about historyWritten by Kathy Burns
Have you noticed all of advertisements on Internet from "gurus" and people who have "made it" with their Internet business? You know ones, they tell you how in demand they are. They tell you how they get several thousand dollars for each seminar they give. They tell you how they've made hundreds of thousands of dollars online. And they tell you they'll give you their secrets and formulas for "ridiculously low price of $99.95"!
These characters are all really slick. Their one page web site is designed to draw you in, convince you, and take your hard earned money. Some of them are written really well and product is very tempting to buy. But does a little doubt linger somewhere at back of your mind? Is there something holding you back but you just can't quite put your finger on it? There might be a valid reason for that.
Let's travel through history a bit and see if we can figure out why you get those tiny doubts....
Orson Wells. Heard of him? War of Worlds. Heard of that? I think almost anyone in U.S. knows both names, but for amusement I'll summarize story. The War of Worlds was a fiction radio story. I think it was broadcast in 1940's or 1950's era but I don't remember exact date. This story happened to be science fiction, and happened to involve aliens landing on Earth and starting a war. Now story was put on in full production mode -- just like fiction movies you see on TV today with professional actors. The only problem is, many people tuned into radio show while it was in progress, and they had no idea it was a fictional story! Panic and chaos ensued.
Jump to 1960's era. Did you know there was a book that was put on to best seller lists, even though book didn't actually exist? Yep. A radio DJ cooked up a plot to "fool" some people. He arranged to have listeners go to bookstores and request a specific book. The book didn't actually exist, and this was part of prank. To his and his listener's surprise: Their requests for this book stirred up interest across world. People were talking about book everywhere -- reviews were even written about it! And soon enough it showed up on a bestseller list. But book did not even exist. The non-existent book was called "I' Libertine", and due to furor created from prank, radio DJ went on to write a real book by that name later in life.
Now let's jump ahead about 30 years. In 1990's, some of you may remember computer communities called a "BBS". BBS stands for bulletin board system, and back then this was a computer that you dialed in to. Once connected, you could download files, chat with other members and play games. The public Internet was not available back then, so this was as close as you could get. One BBS was having a difficult time getting itself off ground. They had one major competitor, and they couldn't seem to win customers away from that competitor. So owners decided to entice customers. The customers were almost 100% male back then, and one thing they were all looking for was a friendly female. So one of owners of new BBS -- a man -- took on a BBS personality of a female. They set up a charade basically, with all trimmings. This man would pretend to be female and chat with all guys on competitor's BBS. During chats, "she" would make sure they all understood that she could be found more often on this other, newer BBS. So, if they wanted to talk to her more, they would have to go over there. And they did.