Friday, May 18, 2007

Preying on innocent fools in cyberspace

“Shit!"

That’s my reaction today after I opened my e-mail inbox at yahoo.
Sometimes, you just can’t help it as what I did. But there are occasions when you just couldn't’t hold back your fuse from being busted. In short, I was bombed at a certain point when some people think that you’re really foolish that you don’t have the proper intellect to decipher things as they come your way.

Though, I still believe that majority of the world’s population are illiterates. Meaning, they have difficulty writing and reading. Others simply don’t understand what they are reading, even those written in layman’s terms as what we journalists are doing. I couldn’t imagine a world that is still populated by people whose objectives are nothing but to take advantage of other people’s weaknesses.

Perhaps, I thought that Internet cons are in good in cyber-psychology. For how could they know that their target victims are really that foolish enough not to know in advance that they being gypped of their hard-earned money. In this world, there are only two kinds of people: Those who are cheated and those who cheat themselves.

I pity those who are victims of the first category, especially if what they lost is all they have as savings. Well, I make sure that I don’t have enough cause I never had a way of earning more than what I expected in my many decades of working both in private and government sectors. My only riches, perhaps, are the proper ethics and values my parents inculcated in me as a child. But I also credit my ability to see right from wrong to painful lessons I had in the past, while growing up in a rural town that some people considered as dying. If not for the will to survive, perhaps, I wouldn’t be writing this piece today.

Of course, there are instances when you just can’t get rid of suffering from so many lapses in life. Decisions had to be made carefully, especially if it has something to do with financial matters. That’s what happened when I received an e-mail this morning that I found irritating. Surprise wasn’t in my vocabulary at that time because I’d been through the same situation a few months back, when I was made to believe that I won in a computer-generated lottery wherein my e-mail address was picked in England.

All the while, I couldn’t believe to myself that there are still people in that rich country who can ill-afford to dupe others despite their strong currency. In the first place, why should I exchange my dollars with the value of sterling currency. But this wasn’t the issue, I think. To think that I really won, I got excited but deep inside me was doubt. How could such a computer-generated draw be possible? Oh, yes, it could be but it sounded strange to me. I couldn’t believe that I won some US$2 million as prize pot in that lottery. If indeed I was destined to be rich, so be it. Thanked God, if I was lucky. But I said t myself that I just couldn’t jump on this at once.

What I did was wait until another e-mail came. When I opened it, it instructed me to pay first for the handling and processing fees plus the courier fees, totaling few hundred dollars. This was for me alone. What about the millions of foolish others out there, who may have thought of being lucky enough to have won millions of dollars? If indeed it was true, I told myself, why can’t they just send me the money minus the extra fees that they are supposed to deduct. That’s just fine with me. But this wasn’t the case. And they thought that I was a moron. No way.

I think I’d be generous enough to share with you some of the disturbing e-mails I got today. They are the same e-mails that had been circulating in and out of my yahoo mails for a long time. I knew I wasn’t the only one they try to prey on. There’s a lot of innocent others who may have been repaying what they owed to somebody or the banks for borrowing money that ended up in jeopardy.

As you can see below, I was informed that I was the Star Prize Winner in this year’s BMW Automobile International Awareness Promotions held on January 20, 2007. For this I was approved to receive a total of 650,000 sterling. It said that the selection process was made through a random selection in the company’s Computerized Email Selection System from a database of over a million addresses from the world wide web. And that my winning ticket number is 5647600545166. The catch is I’m supposed to contact a certain Mr. James Walters, unit manager for Forex Allocation of Unity Trust Bank with telephone no. +447092890447. The email sender was chugai01@aol.co.uk and the name of the company: The International Awareness Promotion Department, 102 Stramford, 3001DG, London.

From England, we deviate to a certain Ambroise J. Compaore, auditing and accounting manager at Bank of Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Tel. No. +226-765-08634. In his e-mail: “I am the manager of auditing and accounting at the foreign remittance department of BANK OF AFRICA (B.O.A) here in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. In my department we discovered an abandoned sum of US$12m dollars (Twelve Million US dollars) in an account that belongs to one of our foreign customer (MR. ANDREAS SCHRANNER from Munich, Germany) who died along with his entire family in Jully 2000 in a plane crash. For more informations about the crash you can visit this site: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/859479.stm “ (Unedited copy of the email)

From : Ade Mohammed:“It is my pleasure to contact you for a business venture which I intend to establish in your country. Though I have not met with you before but considering the recent political instabilities in my country, I believe one has to risk confiding in success sometimes in life.

There is this huge amount of Eight million U.S dollars($8,000,000.00) which my late Father deposited in a bank in Abidjan-Cote d'lvoire, before he was assasinated by unknown persons during this present war in Cote d'ivoire.” (Unedited copy of the email)

From the way these e-mail messages looked, how could you trust these people that what they are telling you are true. There’s a long list but they’ll just clog the space for nothing.

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