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  • October 2007 Newsletter

    Posted on October 3rd, 2007 Michael Drummond No comments

    Spammers Pull At Your Heart Strings

    We’ve all gotten them at some time.  An email that someone has forwarded on because it seems like such a great offer, or, worse still, it tells about a child that has gone missing and they hope that you have seen them so that you can help.  So how do you know if the stories are true and need to be passed on, or if they are simply a hoax?

    A few years back there was an email saying that if you forwarded it to a certain number of people Microsoft would send you a large amount of money.  I have been using the internet now for over 10 years, and that email has been around for at least that long.  The trick with this one is, if it seems to good to be true, it most likely is!

    The other hoaxes that seem to be doing the rounds at the moment are the ones saying that a child is missing and they are trying to enlist your help in finding them.  The first question you should ask is, why are they sending it by email, and limiting it to the few people who decide to forward it on??  Surely something that important would at least make the papers?  Look at what has happened recently with Madeleine McCann.  Her face was everywhere you went, in the paper, on the news etc.  And she went missing in Portugal.  One of the biggest hoax emails recently was made up by the friends of a girl who thought it would be funny to post their friends picture and say she was missing.   Ashley Flores is missing from both the US, and Western Australia, depending on which email you read.  The trick with identifying these hoaxes is being realistic.  Think about Madeleine McCann’s case.

    The most damaging type of hoax email is one that asks you to follow a link and enter your password.  This will then allow the hoaxer access to whatever you have logged in to, most commonly your ebay account or banking.  The easiest way to avoid this is to not click links in emails unless you are absolutely sure of the sender.  I do not know of any organisation that asks for your password details via email.  If you are really concerned go to the website by typing in the address yourself, or contact the organisation through alternate means.  If you have clicked the link, look at the address bar and check for errors.  This is normally the give away, a slight spelling change, or extra characters added can be the clue to knowing if it’s real.

    A really simple of way of quickly identifying a hoax, is to type the key phrase, or even just the subject line, into a Google search.  You don’t even need to open the pages, the results will show if they are a hoax.

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