Most of us would like to think we're not vain creatures. But imagine you're on a social networking site and you receive a message containing a hyperlink that says something like, "You won't believe how great you look in this video!" Most of us would be tempted to follow the link and watch the video, particularly if we were worried it might be embarrassing. With so many people and organizations on social networking sites, you never know who could be watching.
Scam artists know that people are concerned with their online image. That's why they use messages like the one above to direct people to a bogus video site. In many cases, attempting to play the video prompts a pop-up window to appear. The window claims the user doesn't have the right video driver installed to view the video. It prompts the user to download a driver and then the video will (supposedly) play. However, the driver turns out to be malware in disguise.
Some malware can can do pretty nasty stuff if you install it on your computer. A keylogging application could keep track of every keystroke you make and send that information to a remote scam artist. The scam artist can then comb through your keystrokes and find out private information like user names and passwords to the sites you visit, including banking or shopping sites. Others might give root access of your machine to a remote cracker -- a malicious hacker. The cracker can then control your computer and you might never even notice.
Is it a scam?
Out of all the base human traits scam artists prey upon, greed may be the one they target most. These scams tend to follow the pattern of promising a huge payoff for a relatively small investment. It's the old "something for nothing" approach. Many scam artists use e-mail to spread the con around. This allows the con artist to send out hundreds of thousands -- or even millions -- of e-mail messages to potential victims. Even if the success rate is a fraction of that number, the payoff for the scam artist can be huge.
When you see an offer online, really take some time to think it through. A little critical thinking can often save you money and frustration. Don't rely on the links or testimonials attached to the offer itself. Search around elsewhere for independent verification that the offer is valid. Some may be genuine offers, while others may try to lure you into a pyramid scheme or pump-and-dump scam.
Some common indicators of scams include:
- A call for urgency such as, "You must act now!"
- A promise of huge profits in a short timeframe
- Overuse of buzzwords and jargon
- Claims of insider information or confidential data
Some potential victims have turned the tables on the scam artists. A Web site called 419 Eater urges people who have encountered scams to return the favor with scambaiting. The site defines scambaiting as luring scam artists into drawn-out correspondence in an effort to waste their time and resources. Some have gone so far as to convince the scam artists to travel halfway across the world or even carve a replica of a Commodore 64 computer out of wood! It turns out scam artists are just as vulnerable to greed as their victims.
Stay on alert, don't believe everything you read and always think before you click. To learn more about scams, take a look at the links on the next page.
source : howstuffworks.com