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How does the scam work?
Fundamentals of running a scamEvery scam starts the same way. The scam artist gathers some publically available information on you. He gets your name and address out of the phone book. He checks the county records to see who owns the house where you live, and if there's been any transfer of ownership from husband to wife lately (so he can find a nice naive widow to prey upon). Once he finds a likely victim, he then tries to trick the victim into buying some unnecessary product. Usually he gets away with it. Even if the police catch the scam artist, the victim almost never files charges. "But he was such a nice young man!" she might say.
In the Internet world, scam artists operate pretty much the same way, but because most people know very little about the Internet, scam artists don't need to work as hard to find victims. They work more like muggers, lurking around in the seamier sides of the Internet, especially porn sites and nutcase militia and "black helicopter" conspiracy sites where everybody already feels either guilty or that they're being spied upon by the government anyhow. They flash a little publically available info, do some slight-of-hand to make you think you're seeing something that's not really happening (just like a stage magician who makes you think you're seeing him pull a scarf out of his mouth, when it's really coming out of his sleeve), and voila!
A little intro to the InternetBefore we can talk about how this particular scam works, let's talk about the Internet. The Internet works like this: Your web browser sends a request for information to the web server. Let's say www.google.com's web server. Google then sends you the web page that you requested. Think of the Internet as the electronic version of the U.S. Postal Service, with your computer basically being a post office box, and the web site being basically someone that you requested to send information to your computer.
Like the U.S. Postal Service, everything on the Internet has an address. Otherwise nobody would know where to send things! Think about it -- if you call Victoria's Secret and ask them to send a catalog, how are they going to send you a catalog if you don't give them an address?! Similarly, if you contact Google's web site and ask them to send you a web page, how are they going to send you a web page if your computer doesn't give them an address?!
So, let's look at Internet addresses. Like a post office box address, it is assigned to a particular "post office" (Internet Service Provider, or ISP). By looking at this address, Google (or whoever you're requesting web pages from) can detirmine a few things. They can detirmine a) what your Internet address is (doh, else how do pages get back to you?!), what city you're in, and what ISP you're using. They can NOT detirmine what your name is, or what your real (physical) address is, at least not unless you explicitly tell them.
The ScamThe whole goal of the scam is to scare you -- to use the minimal publically available information above (your computer's Internet address, ISP name, and city) to state that you're being "investigated", that you're "broadcasting personal information to the Internet", or otherwise need their product. Said product generally being unnecessary and overpriced, of course.
So let's lay out your publically available information:
Okay, so the scammer has some true information about you, or at least can display that true information to you. His goal then is to intersperse his lies with the true information in hopes that the "truth-ness" of the true information will spill over onto the lies. Propoganda is all about being sneaky with your lies -- making sure there's just enough truth surrounding them to make them seem plausible. So here we go.
Remember, the whole goal of a scam is to trick you into buying a product you don't need, generally for a higher price than you should be paying. Often the product is a usable product (albeit generally not fulfilling all the outrageous promises that were made as to what it'd to), but if you don't need it, you're being scammed. Even if you do need such a product (an issue I discuss in the next installation of this tutorial), you can generally buy a usable product for cheaper from a reputable vendor (as vs. from a scam artist), or even get it for free from a number of sources.