On a not so bright Monday morning, my Internet refused to come on (as it sometimes does) and I felt like my life had stopped. The Internet has become one of the cornerstones of human existence and it has become almost unimaginable to live without it, specifically in a developed economy.
But this haven of panoramic information could be the devil!
I am talking about Internet scams here. Everyone has heard about the Nigerian scams and I’m sure most of thought of us as way too intelligent to fall prey to their gimmicks. But what we don’t realise is that the web of deceit is extremely far flung. They operate with an acute understanding of human impulses and pray on our innate need to believe.
In the very popular website http://www.gumtree.com, there are several advertisements for flats for rent, cars for sale etc. In a neat little column beside the advert, they have a few tips for the users.
- Always view the property first before paying any money
- Don’t use money transfer services, even to “prove” you have funds – this is a scam
- Steer clear of payment or protection schemes claiming to be from Gumtree – they’re fake
- Never provide your bank or passport details before you meet the landlord or agent
These warnings have been put there for a reason. There are plenty of people who use the Internet to run amazingly successful scams! A student at the University of Westminster, in London, shares her experience of how traumatic trusting one of these ads became for her.
She said: “I had to wire the landlord 1500 pounds to secure a room in Chelsea, and the rental agreement was posted to me. But when I reached there, there was no building that he mentioned and he has not picked up my call since then!”
Many other scams run across the Internet as well. I have received several emails about winning a lottery or being the lucky IP address and so on. Mr Sai Krishna, a businessman from India was pleasantly shocked when he received an email from MSN saying he had won £500000. He was really excited and corresponded with what he believed was Microsoft Corporation. After exchanging a couple of emails and transferring £200 for the “postal charges for insured package”, he was shocked to realise that the entire thing was a scam.
With Internet banking and e-shopping becoming increasingly common, it has become really important to protect our details on the Internet. And its about time we realised that its not stupidity alone which causes us to fall prey to these scams, but susceptibility as well.
So while we enjoy all the surfing and streaming, we should become far more cautious when we use the Internets diverse facilities.