The truth about buying land on the moon and other unusual subscriber questions: Internet ScamBusters #159
The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud
By Audri and Jim Lanford
Copyright © Audri and Jim Lanford
All rights reserved.
We end this year with a final Q&A session -- we think you'll get at least one chuckle (and yes, we really did get asked all of these questions):
- Can you really buy a plot of land on the moon?
- Did I make a big mistake sending financial info via email?
- Did Visa really issue a credit card to a tree? (The answer may surprise you.)
Let's answer these questions...
Internet ScamBusters Q&A
Question: Are the lunar plots being sold a legal deal or is it just another scam on the Internet? Can you really buy land on the moon?
Answer: First, let us explain the "opportunity" to subscribers who have never heard about the sale of land on the moon.
A company called Lunar Embassy, which describes itself as "the founders and leaders of the extraterrestrial real estate market," claims to have been in the business of selling Lunar Property for over 25 years to over 3.4 million customers. There are other companies selling land on the moon as well, but it seems that Lunar Embassy is the first and biggest.
According to the Lunar Embassy website, you can buy one acre of "prime real estate" on the moon -- with great Earth views -- for just $19.95.
Lunar Embassy has also created "The Century Club" for "1000 lucky participants" who get 1777.58 acres of celestial land and other "benefits" for a mere $1000 US dollars.
Chinese authorities have shut down this scheme in China on charges of "profiteering and lunacy." (We doubt this pun was intended.)
Lunar Embassy is also selling extraterrestrial domains: For example, you can reserve your .ln, .le, .moon or .mars domain name now. ;-)
So, is this for real or a scam? According to the Lunar Embassy website, their legal basis for ownership is that "one can become the legal owner of an extraterrestrial body, if you are the first one who claimed it, and that is the Lunar Embassy."
So, we'll let you decide for yourself if this is real or a scam. ;-)
Question: Did I make a big mistake? I enclosed my name, address, phone number,
credit card number and date of expiration in an email I sent to purchase a book
online. Is my info safe and if not, what should I do?
Answer: It's not safe to send any personal or financial info via email.
If you bought this book via a spam email, then it is almost certainly a scam. Cancel your credit card immediately, and follow the action advice below.
However, even if you didn't buy via spam, you still aren't safe. If any hackers who run "sniffing" software (which can be used as powerful spying tools) looked at your data, all of the private information in your email could have been stolen on the way to the real recipient.
Nonetheless, as long as you didn't buy this product via spam, it's likely that no one saw your info via sniffing.
Action: If you bought via spam, cancel the credit card immediately and explain to your credit card company what happened. Then, check our website for info on credit card fraud and identity theft, as well as following the recommendations on our site for what to do if you've been scammed:
- What to Do if Your Credit Card or Wallet is Stolen
- 7 specific things you can do to protect yourself from MasterCard and other credit card fraud and identity theft.
- Surprising Facts About Identity Theft
- What to do if you're a victim of fraud (before and after it happens)
If you didn't buy via spam, we recommend
you still watch the charges on this credit card (as well as all credit cards,
bank statements, and other financial accounts) very carefully. If you see any
fraudulent activity, report the problem and close the accounts immediately.
Check out the above four recommended pages on our website for info on identity and credit card theft, and follow the recommendations for what to do if you've been scammed.
In addition, you may want to look into one-time use credit card numbers. You can find a good article about this here.
Question: I heard that Visa issued a credit card to a tree. Is this true???
Answer: This is perhaps our favorite story of the week, although it's hard to beat buying land on the moon. ;-)
Background: Many people are fed up with all the junk mail credit card solicitations they receive, and some have submitted credit card applications with nonsensical information in the name of pets, cartoon characters, etc.
And, some of these pranks have succeeded, with a baby or Mickey Mouse receiving a new credit card.
Yet this month, in what we understand to be a first, a California realtor got a credit card issued to a tree!
Here's the story: Because of the recent changes in the US bankruptcy laws, it is now more attractive for banks to issue credit cards to certain customers (like those who are emerging from bankruptcy). These people are therefore receiving a lot of new credit card solicitations.
One of these people, Gary More, who is a West Hollywood realtor, got tired of all of these new credit card solicitations, and tried calling the issuers to stop sending the unwanted offers. When that didn't work, he took one application and wrote "Never waste a tree" across the application, and then mailed it back.
This was his way of saying they should stop wasting paper.
A short time later, he received a Chase Visa credit card issued in the name of: Never Waste Tree. ;-)
You can see a picture of the credit card here:
That's it for today -- and for 2005. We wish you all the best for the rest of the holiday season, and a very Happy New Year. See you in 2006!