Sunday, January 08, 2006

Scammers still alive and well on the Net

It seems that the Internet scammer is still out there as strong as ever.
I just got a call from the oldest grandson all worried about something that happened on the Net tonight. Well, the first thing I thought of was that he encountered some pedifile or other low-life while on the Net or through e-mail. Lots of things went through my mind. But it was another type mof low-life that preys on the unsuspecting and unsophisticated on the Net. What happened was that my grandson got a portable MP3 player for Christmas and was searching
the Net for MP3 songs that he was interested in. Inevitably he came across a site that promised him over 100 FREE MP3 downloads. Well, that's all a 13 year od needs to see. He went to the site, all excited becuase he was going to be able to get some MP3's for his player.

Not so fast! Not going to be that easy or legitimate. Unfortunatley, with his father at work and his mother trying to deal with the other 3 kids, my grandson was pretty much left to his own devices. When I asked why he didn't wait for his Mom to sit with him, he said that he wanted to get a couple to load on his player and take on the school bus. And that when his Mom finished with his brothers and sister it would be his turn to get ready for bed and his Mom doesn't like to delay his bedtime, especially on a school night. So, there he was looking to get a few MP3's and not have to bother asking his parents for money. So, after we spoke for a few minutes I got the information I needed from him. He accessed that particular site for about a half hour (read on
and you'll see why he was on it for so long) and that he just filled out his own information where requested. His Mom got on the phone and I explained what the concern was. I told her to make sure that they deleted his old e-mail address that they created for him and create a new one. He does have some school friends and others that he exchnages e-mail with. The reason that his parents created an e-mail account on their ISP account was for the purpose that they
can monitor what their children are doing online. But enough of that.

I got the URL that my grandson accessed and I asked him how he knew how long he was on that site. He told me he got on just a little aftger his Mom went to start getting the getting the other kids ready for bed and he got off when the show that was on TV (about a half hour in length) and he was worried that he got tricked on the web site, thinking he may have done wrong. I told him that he dind't do anything wrong because he told someone what happened.
I got on the site myself to check things out (the youngest son, who still lives at home, is our network administrator and has security shells/firewalls on top of other security shells/firewalls. So I wasn't worried too much about picking up any malicious applets or anything) and immediately saw why my grandson got stuck on the site for a half hour. I "allowed" myself to get stuck for only about 10-15 minutes. Once you get on that site, you are presented with a
"special offer" page that you have to complete before you can proceed to the next page. My grandson kept filling out the requested information because he was given the impression that the MP3's were just on the next page. He was presented with messages like "Almost Done!" and "You're almost to the end" type messages just to keep him filling out forms and reviewing offers, that he had ot decide if he wanted or not. In many cases he couldn't go to the next page
UNLESS he answered YES to at least one of the offers. So, he looked them over and if he found one that HE was interested in, he answered YES to it. If there was nothing he was interested in, then he tried to figure out if any of them would be of interest to his parents. Now, where required he did put in his actual birthday, but none had any disclaimer about 13 year olds not being qualified to complete the forms or answer YES to the offers.

So, what's the bottom line? Did my grandson ever get to view the list of MP3's that were being offered? Nope. This site was a scam. How can you tell? Because it adverttised something that they never intended to deliver on. In the time I was on the site, I saw the same offers being presented multiple times. This means that the site's only intention was to keep you "interested" in the offers becaus they mislead you to believe that you will get to what they originally offered. As I navigated the site only one word kept coming to my mind....FRAUD. How about Truth-In-Advertising? Thank Gid I have a friend who works locally for the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). I know I will make a point of giving him all of the information that I have. :-)