Dear International Friend,
Last week's message on great places to be was about great places not to be and Africa with scam artists was a highlighted dangerous place. We asked readers to give us their thoughts on what to do about the continual flow of scams that are spamed at us. We thank all the readers below who sent us the intelligent replies below.
“Gary, One excellent program which reader can use to avoid spam is Free and is called Mailwasher (www.mailwasher.net) which mimics undeliverable return messages. As a webmaster I cannot avoid spam altogether but this little program has reduced the amount of spam I get by 80%.
“Gary, Regarding emails from Nigerian con artists, they can be reported to your Attorney General in your city as they are illegal….our newspapers contained articles of two who were apprehended along with warnings to the users of PC's to be on the lookout and not be taken in as they are scamsand the elderly are targets as well. Regards.”
“God Bless you Gary Re. Nigerian (Mali, Togo, Kenya, etc. etc.) financial spam:
I find that much of this spam comes from “reputable” ISPs and web mail providers. Studies of the major transit backbones read like the who's who of the telecom industry…Worldcom, UUNET, etc. It seems that this is a major part of their income stream! So don't expect much help there. That being said, I think that bombarding them with abuse notices with a full copy of the offending spam (including the FULL HEADER) has had some positive results. Yahoo, in particular, seems a major source of my spam. One very good way to limit your address being picked up by spiders off the internet is to use the following format: Name [at] address [dot] net. It usually takes a human to interpret that reply address, something spammers cannot afford to do. If you are interested, there are other more advanced strategies that work, like using ASCII characters as a substitute for some text characters. There are many other strategies, too many to go into here. The easiest is just practice internet-zen…go with the flow. Make liberal use of the DELETE button of any return addresses you are not familiar with. Then just get on with your internet life”
“Hello Gary! Thanks for the heads up on the Nigerian scams. I have found there are many varieties of these scammers from Africa with similar stories. I took the bait on the first one I received several months ago and ended up talking to a guy in Spain before I figured out I was being targeted for an outrageous administration fee and who know what else by a bunch of unprofessional thugs. I have to admit they were good though. Very convincing. They sent me copies of forged Nigerian Government Documents with my name on them identifying me as the contractor on a $32,000,000 project. Complete with government approval stamps and signatures – very convincing! I thought I hit the jackpot there for a while! What a sucker. Anyway I received this some time ago and thought that you may find of value to our international friends who are being target: http://www.scambusters.org/NigerianFee.html
There is actually a link at the site to the US Secret Service and some instruction for those of us who receive such email solicitations. I would like to collaborate with the SS to sting these guys, but I am Canadian and I don't know if they would be interested in working with me. It would be an exciting trip to Spain to set it up though. Do you think the SS would go for it?. I actually have several telephone numbers and names of people over there in Madrid who are working these scams. All the best!”
I completely understand the frustration level of others with the spam problem and the Nigerian thing is really getting out of hand.
One step that I took for our website which was recommended in several ezines we subscribe to was to change all of the “@” in our email addresses within our HTML coding of our web pages to the following: @
Most of the email harvesting software “supposedly” has not picked up on this yet.
The @ is encoding for the @ symbol and appears as such when you look at the web page. Everything works as it would to send an email but the harvesters are looking for the @ and are no longer finding it on our 163 web pages.
(Note: this tip is for use within web pages; you cannot use the extended character symbol “@” for the email “@” sign in your email program).
The only problem with this in regards to a web site is that most search engines “cache” your pages and until they spider your site and get the pages with the updated @ you will continue to get the spam.
The only other “temporary” fix until this kicks in is to set up filters within your email software. We use Netscape and have about 350 filters.
Most of the Nigerian scam emails have common subject lines and many common paragraphs. Most filtering allows you to use “any of these words” or “exactly these words”.
If we get more than two emails from the same email address or even the same website, we filter them out.
Just my .02 cents that might help.
And, I just read the following in an ezine from scambusters.org:
In an interesting turn of events, the Nigerian government has put up a Web site about Nigerian frauds. You can report a fraud, view sample emails and documents that scammers use, and learn about the most common fraud scenarios.
Some good news, though. Six people have been arrested in South Africa on fraud charges. Police, apparently working with the U.K.'s Scotland Yard, seized computer equipment, false identification papers and quantities of drugs. Four of those arrested were Nigerian, one was Cameroonian and one was South African.
Hope this helps. Kindest regards, “
“This is one of the reasons why there are no links to my web page, and why I stopped using services like yahoo and angelfire.com. Just as an experiment I created an email address at hotmail.com to see how soon I started getting SPAM. I didn't get any “big dick” or “hot chick” messages until I posted a message from that address to a chat/discussion community. Those addresses get harvested too. beware,”
“have the people forward the nigerian scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org they now have an active unit investigating these exact type of emails, in conjunction with the treasury department in the u s and the nigerian intelligence agencies.”
Thank you readers for sharing this thinking. I hope you find a thought that helps you avoid spam and the Nigerian scam.
May we ask for your contributions again for this page next week. One reader recently sent me the link about our civil rights. Your comments please!
“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance” The price now has an additional cost. It requires your direct ACTION. Contact your “public servants” regularly, write letters to the editor, join with others who value Liberty to help persuade the 70% of the public who would willingly give up their rights that the Essence of America IS liberty. It is THE reason this nation was founded and sacrificed for by so many. http://www.theadvocates.org/civilliberties.html
Until next message I hope the place where you are is great!