Thursday, November 5, 2009

Scams and Hoaxes and What To Do About It

A Warning On Scams And Hoaxes And What To Do About It

by Eunice Estipona

Okay I know that this does not have anything to do with spa, massage therapy and wellness but because this also affects our overall wellness, I will include this in the blog. I also think as someone who is in the forefront of information dissemination and as a blogger, we all have the right to discuss the other realities of life. Today I will blog about scams and hoaxes as recently it has affected me and one of my new staff. Please read below:

These are just examples of scams that you should be aware of:

I. Text and mobile phone scams with similar modus operandi like:

1. You have won like this or like that from the government or any private institution. But unfortunately hindi ka naman sumasali sa kahit na anong contests or raffle. Paano ka mananalo?

2. Someone posing as your kakilala (relatives, family member or friends) asking for load or money to be deposited to their account. This happened to one of my new staff who got a text message from this number 09204569906 and was posing as me (unfortunately, I was not available to be called at that time because my mobile number accepts only text/SMS messages because I was out of the country). Well, she was a new staff so she easily believed and sent a 100 peso load to the number. Kung 100 pesos nga lang pinag iinteresan pa nitong mga scammers how much more the big ones? Anyway, to make the story short, she sent the load and when I texted her back using my real mobile number, wala na. Napadala na niya yung load.

3. Someone who would like to meetup or see you (eye ball) posing as someone sent by your kakilala. Beware as this might be a hold-up. I remember, someone last year sent me several emails and text messages posing as Michael Roswell, a visiting American who wants to find a fiance (sorry, not interested) and is really very adamant in meeting me because he is a member of my online group at Meetup Philippines. Until finally after a lot of text messages and I did not reply nor did I give-in to meeting him. Another text message coming from another number (which I will not disclose) sent me a text message containing the following message “to all ladies beware of the anti-fraud international name Michael Roswell don't put load in his stupid phone. I take a paper on his bag and saw a list of number of victims. I am the one to meet him three times, do a Google search Daniel Brenar, his real name and I'm a secret agent of his ex wife, a Japanese in Japan email me for information. Then she gave out her email address. But then again, since I was never interested in meeting men online for courtship, I have never emailed the said texter. Putting a period in this scam by Micheal Roswell A.K.A. Daniel Brennar.

4. Someone posing as an OFW and wants to send some “padala” (gifts) or asking you to send money because they have a business to engage into and they would ask you to send money via Western Union or any remittance company.

5. Someone asking you to send or give money immediately because your friend, relative, boss or amo has been involved in an accident. Another person will pose as a courier for you to hand over the money to him/her.

6. Letters like this below:


To: undisclosed recipients

Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 10:10 AM
I am Mr Shawn Davis from the united kingdom,i want to make inquires for Massage training course(Massage therapy or body work) for 4 weeks in the months of March 7th 2011 to 3rd April for 5 adults (age-20&23)5 classes a week for 3 hrs,i hope the weather condition will be perfect and best for classes, what do you think? You are required to get back to me in details if you can accommodate us,meanwhile can you help me with the information below

1)Does your school operate full time to fit our schedule?

2)Are the instructors certified by any organization?

3)How many instructors are at each class?

4)What training kit do we need?

5)Do you accept credit card for payments (Visa,MasterCard)

6)Do you have accommodations,guest house or hotel close to your facility?...

I would love to hear from you in details and any information we ought to know before our classes,also enclose the total cost of your services,as soon as i hear from you i will proceed with prepayments for you to hold the dates and commence preparation for classes.i hope to hear from you soonest,thanks for your time.


Shawn Davis

That was a really good one.. I almost bought it except for one thing... If he were from the UK then he would know English grammer perfectly... Not only can he not write, but does not even address the letter to me and my name is at the top or even mention the Philippines as his location! For emails like this, do not even respond, but it would be a good scam letter to write about in a blog or an article like this one I am writing... Oh, you know he is after our personal information, address, bank, credit card account.. etc..

So, why are these text obviously a scam? How will you know that a text is a scam?

Number 1, the texter uses a “normal” 11 digit number. Legitimate SMS promos will always course through telecommunication companies’ short codes, 3- or 4-digit numbers provided by the carrier, not the usual mobile number format (example: 0918-123-4567).”

Secondly, the copy needs some work. Honestly, would you take a text message coming from “D’ Sec of Banko Sentral ng Pil” seriously? Ang galing naman mag short text messaging....

You never entered such a contest or promo. Think about it: how can you win something that you’ve never participated in?

Lack of claiming instructions. Valid announcements of winners will always feature detailed instructions on how to claim the prize, and not just simple instructions to call or claim your prize by sending money. Also when the message urges the recipient to claim his or her “prize” quickly. The Department of Trade and Industry said promos usually give the winner 60 days to claim the prize.

How to prevent and what to do with TEXT scams:
1. Kahit nakaka tempt, we should never give in to cash or monetary rewards offered by text scams. Do not give out any information and when they call you using the cell phone tanungin niyo ng mahusay. Sila ang tanungin niyo huwag ikaw. Sila ang tumawag at huwag ikaw. Do not waste your load. Let them run out of load. Do not text back and ignore their messages. If it's to god to be true then it probably is.
2. Do not give out personal information that can be exploited like your Full name, email address, mobile number, place and date of birth most especially your SSS number, credit card number, bank account details, etc. They are phishing for you to tell them of your financial information.
If you gave up your information already, contact your financial institution/ bank at once. You likely will have to close your account immediately. Here's what will happen when you give strangers your bank account information: They will take your money. Period. End of story. You get nothing, but you lose a lot.
3. Share your experience with our community through this blog.
4. Report it to any or all of the following:
5/F, EDPC Building, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Manila
Tel: 302-3982 and 524-7011 local 2372

National Bureau of Investigation, Taft Avenue, Manila
Tel: 523-8231 local 3455/3456

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, BSP Complex, Mabini St. Manila
Tel: 523-4832 and 524-7011 local 2259
Hotline Tel. 7513330

The Columbia Tower, Ortigas Avenue, Barnagay Wack Wack
Mandaluyong City 1555
Trunkline 7277960-69
Public Assistance Center Hotline

II. Email SCAMS and hoaxes

In the form of:

1. In the form of employment opportunities, where you will have to send via email. All your credentials, your certificates including a copy of your passport, etc. After gathering all your documents, they will ask for a fee to process all your documents. Two years ago, my cousin has fallen prey to this and he sent $50 USD to a certain employment agency in New York only to find out that after more than six months, he was sent a cheque with a letter from some internet police authority and sent him back the 35$ because they said that they have been receiving reports that the organization that he sent the money to was a scam. Well, his case was a lucky one because at least he got his money back. But not so with most, where they get to send more and got nothing in return.

2. Email scams and hoaxes may also be in the form of an email message pretending to be from a financial institution or any big organization asking potential victims to call a number, and asks victims to key in their credit card or ATM number.

3. Beware of emails you receive because scammers will try to trick you by using phony e-mails, asking them to click to web sites that "spoofed" authentic web sites for banks and credit card companies, eBay and major retailers, even the IRS. Text message scams mostly appeared early this year.

4. Scams informing the recipient of winning big money in a lottery that he never joined like an email lottery “kuno”.

5. Scams from an anonymous individual or a political figure informing you to send money because they badly need it.

6. Email from any person who poses as family member of a deceased person requiring the need to transfer funds to your account..

7. Email from a sick person in bed wanting you to be the sole beneficiary of his/her will.

8. Work at Home email scams: Old scam, new format. You should immediately run from anyone who promises lots of money for little work that requires no experience. While there are companies that allow their employees to work from home, they require job skills and interviews, just like regular jobs. Work-at-home scams will ask you to purchase supplies and equipment from them to perform the "job." That's how they make their money. You will lose -- not make – money.

9. Forwarded money and donation scams through email. Example below:
Microsoft and Disney are both beta-testing an e-mail tracker and will send you money if you
forward this e-mail. The Gap is testing an e-mail tracker and will send you a gift certificate. The Red Cross is using its e-mail tracker and will donate money for some poor kid's operation or to raise funds for an orphan of Sept. 11.

Okay there are a lot of forms and disguises for these type of email scams and hoaxes and what shall we do about them? You might ask "what's the harm in forwarding an e-mail to my friends? And people on my email list?" The answer is that some of the latest hoaxes are intended to do more than just deceive you. There are some web pagea saying if it gets "a million hits" then some poor sick little girl's grandparents would donate money for her treatment. Think about it, if her grandparents had the money and their granddaughter was really sick, do you think they would wait for a web page to get a million hits? No, the only thing that is sick is the person who put that site up. Was it just a prank to get a million hits? Absolutely not. The page had a revenue generating ad banner on it. Everytime someone visited that page the guy made money, even more if the visitor clicked on the ad banner. The danger of a scam like this is that as people begin to catch on, they will be less trusting of legitimate sites that have an honest message. So they will likely NOT trust those legitimate sites.

10. That is not all folks, it gets even worse. Con artists on the net are finding better ways to make money off the gullibility of well meaning people. The latest scam is online petitions. You are presented with some legitimate sounding cause and told that when a million people sign the petition, it will be presented to some organization or perhaps an elected official. Note: some of these petitions are real, but lately there have been petitions popping-up on the web with a more sinister purpose... they are collecting e-mail addresses to sell to spammers, often porn sites. So while you think you are being a good Netizen (internet citizen) by sending all your friends to sign an important petition, in fact you are helping some low life make a buck while getting your unsuspecting friends signed-up for a ton of unwanted junk e-mail, much of it of an adult nature. And once you are on those lists you can't get off, responding with a "remove" message only informs them that they have a warm body at that e-mail address reading the spam, which increases the value of their list. A list of people who will actually open spam e-mail and respond to it is a valuable commodity which will be sold from spammer to spammer. The "fresher" the list is the more it's worth. Hence the fake "petition" pages.

11. Email claims to be from PayPal asking you to confirm your account data by clicking on the link. You will be taken to a spoof login page where your details will be captured by the phishers. PayPal never send users emails requesting details in this way. URL of spoof website disguised as "Click here to activate your account". Any email messages that may seem to come from a legitimate business source such as Ebay or Paypal, that asks you to “verify your account” and asks you for your password. Businesses do not ask you to verify your password, social security number or credit card information via email. Most often this is probably a phishing scam.

12. A Russian, Filipina, Asian or any women and men seeking online relationships. They will even talk to you online via webcam and will earn your trust but before they come to your country or meet you, they will ask for money and after that they got it from you, you will no longer contact you again. Beware of online “meat market”. There is nothing wrong with online relationships, but you should be more careful. Remember my story about Michael Roswell above?

13. The most common form of advance fee fraud is an e-mail message that claims that you have won a large sum of money, or that a person will pay you a large sum of money for little or no work on your part.

Advance fee fraud is also known as the Nigerian Letter or the 419 scam, because the scammer often claims to be from Nigeria and 419 is the Nigerian criminal code that this scam violates.
Here are a few examples of the most popular advance fee frauds:
A foreign government official would like your assistance in transferring funds and will pay you a hefty commission if you agree.

14. You stand to inherit millions of dollars from a relative you don't remember.

15. You've won a prize or a lottery (perhaps one from a foreign country) that you don't remember entering.

Warning signs and what to do with email and online scams and hoaxes:

1. Use spam filtering technology and keep unwanted emails out of your inbox by reporting them as spam.

2. Be suspicious of anything that shouts something like…“SEND THIS EMAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW”.

3. Don't make investment decisions based on anonymous e-mail or text messages you receive.

4. Anything that promises to make you rich and then asks for your credit card. DO NOT give out your credit card or Social Security Number when asked for it in an email message.

5. Don't open attachments in unsolicited e-mails. Spams are usually sent as an image or as a PDF attachment.

6. Use an Internet service provider (ISP) or e-mail provider that has implemented Sender ID Framework, a technical solution to detect and block spoofed e-mail. All of the latest versions of Microsoft e-mail software support this technology.

7. If in doubt with the person, company or links, type in and Google the website. Do not click on the links asking you for personal information.

8. Legitimate people, e-mails and web sites provide ways to contact the author, writer or webmaster. At the bottom of this page you will find my e-mail address. I will stand behind what I publish on this blog or website and will make corrections if an error is pointed out. Scam artists on the other hand, hide their identities, they fear being tracked down. Just having an e-mail address doesn't guarantee the writer is honest, free e-mail addresses are easy to come by, but if you find a site that offers no hint of the author or way to contact him/her, then be very suspicious.

9. If an e-mail or web site claims to represent some large, well known institution, then how will you know if it is really from them? For example, if an e-mail claims to be on the behalf of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, does the return address reflect that? Most of the large institutions now have web sites and their own domain names. Likewise, if you see a web page that claims to speak on behalf of the POEA, is it hosted as part of POEA's web domain (in this case: If instead it is hosted by a free service like Gmail, Yahoo, GeoCities or Xoom, or Hotmail, then watch out, because it probably isn't from who it claims to be.

10. Do not forward unnecessary emails, if the e-mail claims that it is being "tracked?" This is a sure sign of a hoax since e-mail can not be reliably tracked. Rather than helping some poor soul when you forward one of these message, you are in reality wasting precious Internet bandwidth, which in the long run COSTS all of us.

Have fun online and remember, before you forward that next chain letter, take a moment to see if it is true. Most are hoaxes and some are even hurtful. The Internet is a powerful tool for spreading information and whatever is good, but like any tool, it can cause damage if not used responsibly. So check before you forward, it only takes a few minutes.

I can't leave this email/blog post without talking about bad money relationships. Please hear me when I say that “there are some money that's not worth having” and it's not about the actual cash or monetary value, but it's about the person giving it to you and the means of getting it. If you think you have sold your soul by doing business with these people, then trust your guts and retreat. Business people are always trying to hook up with other business people, for the most part, this works in everyone's favor. Facilitating introductions, great meetings and networks. But all of these are not free. It might come as an utang na loob (gratitude) for which you have to pay back sooner or later. But it does not take long to identify whose referrals you want and whose you really cannot afford to have.

There are money relationships that you do not want to go near and will cost you in the end. Trust your instincts and your gut. A healthy respect for people blended with a bit (a bit lang ha?) of paranoia is probably a good recipe for staying safe, sound and secure.

Be safe and even if there are wolves among the sheeps, trust but be selective. Just because there are wolves out there, does not mean its not ever safe. Do not throw the baby out of the bath water or sink the ship because of the rats. Do your homework and ask for advise from trusted sources.

by Eunice Estipona

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