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Picture this? You open your email and are getting ready to see if you made any sales, got any new sign-ups or just any overall good news. Something catches your eye, and as an affiliate marketer, you take a second look. Lo and behold! It’s an online crook with an email address pretending to be honest.
If you are like me, you are thoroughly fed up with all the cyber criminals who are trying to get into your pocket book, preying on what they assume is your foolish greed, or simply trying to destroy the reputations of genuine people trying to earn money online. Do you seriously need another email telling you that you have won the British lotto, the Microsoft lottery, the eBay lottery, or any other such silly ruse?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough. So now, I’m seriously looking around for something I can do to put these criminals out of their misery. MSNBC did a great documentary about 3 months ago on credit card scams online. It was a very telling piece that traced the origin of cyber criminals who used unsuspecting people in mid-America to pawn their wares purchased with stolen credit cards. The conclusion was not surprising, but very interesting to watch.
Let me give you a brief synopsis of how these schemes work. Someone steals a credit card and related personal information from an unsuspecting or careless credit card owner.. He goes to an underground online forum, a sort of den of thieves, and sells the card to someone else. This person will buy the card for $15.00 or more. He then goes on a shopping spree with the card and in about 10 minutes the card is maxed out.
Now, he doesn’t buy foolishly. He buys consumer electronics, clothes, shoes, etc. His real intention is to send these to some far away countries, like Benin in West Africa, or Nigeria, or some other country. Before he buys anything with that credit card however, there is one crucial step he must take. He has to ensure that he finds a patsy. Who is a patsy? This is the fall guy or gal who is going to ship the goods from the USA, or Canada for this criminal.
You see, most online stores will NOT ship to these countries directly. The criminal therefore has to find someone who will do so on his behalf. Alarmingly, he will find someone. A few carefully crafted email to someone who is desperately looking for “love”, looking for companionship, or looking for attention, will usually snare a willing participant. This patsy sincerely believes that his beautiful and sexy sweetheart who is somewhere in Europe or Asia Pacific region, is coming to marry him, live with him, or just show him a good time. She just needs a few favours first. Would he just ship a few items for her to Africa? If the patsy is sufficiently enamored, he may even put up the shipping cost, for good measure.
Of course, if the patsy is a woman, an appropriate picture of a handsome man who is a successful businessman with stores all over the world who is just dying to marry her and take her away from all this, will suffice! A few well placed emails or even a phone call may do the trick.
So now, the crook has a willing patsy who will ship his or her goods, purchased with a stolen credit card, to any place in the world. This is happening online right now folks! If you doubt me at all, just go over to Craig’s list and try to sell any type of electronic or consumer goods and see what happens. You are bound to have at least of these criminals writing you, pretending to be interested in the item, but wanting you to ship it to them, and they will also want to know if you will accept a cashier’s cheque too. You just won’t be told that it is the counterfeit kind.
Do not do it! They will try to persuade you even when it is clearly stated that once you pay for the goods with a credit card, the item will be shipped to you. Here are a few things you can do right now to protect yourself online and save yourself from grief and heartache. Particularly affected by these criminal activities are people who do affiliate marketing or other online businesses. You can protect yourself and drive these criminals off the ‘net if you learn to stay ahead of them. These people give affiliate marketing a bad name and there is definitely something you can do to help yourself. Here are just a few suggestions:
1. Do not click on any link in any email that says it is from pay pal, especially if you have a PayPal account. Never do it. Just delete it. If you have to go to your PayPal account, type in the address of PayPal into your browser.
2. Do not click on any link in any email that is supposed to come from eBay and is asking you to click on some link to verify your silver member status. Do not do it. This works the same as the PayPal scam. Someone is trying to steal your account passwords using keyboard loggers or worms.
3. Delete any generic email from anyone that says you won some lottery. If the email does not address you by name delete it. IF you did not purchase lottery online, delete it. No one, I repeat NO ONE is going to send you 55 million dollars out of the blue!
4. Never agree to ship anything to anyone in any place after they have purchased the item from a website. In other words, do not allow yourself to become a trans-shipper for someone you do not really know. If a website does not ship to a particular country, it is usually for a good reason. Don’t play the hero online.
5. No matter where you live, do not carelessly discard any written material with your social security, local equivalent identification, or credit card information. Someone could find it, and steal your identity.
I have a friend who is in the court system right now fighting for his freedom because some criminal sent him a counterfeit bank draft for legitimate goods he was about to ship. Now in addition to having to explain to the authorities how he ended up with a fake bank draft/postal order, he has this criminal calling his cell phone wanting to get refunded (with real dollars, of course ) for not getting the goods he was supposed to be buying with a fake postal order! The gall of these criminals!
If you do affiliate marketing or some other legitimate business online, is there anything you can do about this? I believe we all can. Perhaps it will take another article to properly explore this topic, but I’m willing to put in my best efforts to see an end to these types of criminal activities online. Are you?
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write by Engelbert