PayPal Scam

About the paypal scam, lost pet scam,
Bill Gates email scam, and more: Internet ScamBusters #55

Lots of “snippets” this month (what a surprise that there are so many Internet scams!). 😉 We’ve included a couple of humorous items as well. Let’s get started…

Internet ScamBusters “Snippets”

PayPal Identity Theft Scam

A new type of PayPal scam has been making the rounds. If you’re a PayPal user, you may receive an email titled “URGENT: PayPal System Problems.”

The email then goes on to say that, because of computer glitches, all users should log in to the PayPal URL given in the email and re-enter their information.

But the PayPal login URL given is *not* ==>
which is the real direct PayPal login URL.

It’s a URL starting with — a bogus site where the scammer steals your PayPal identity, and possibly your money.

Remember that URLs starting with http:// are not secure. Only URLs starting with https:// are (if you’re using Internet Explorer, you’ll see a little lock in the lower right-hand corner of the browser to remind you you’re visiting a secure site).

PayPal has a list of security tips, which includes the following:

If you receive an email and are unsure whether it is from PayPal, come directly to the PayPal site at Don’t click on any link in an email that seems suspicious to you. These security measures will help ensure that you are logging into PayPal. The only site you should ever type your username and password into is at

To check out more excellent security tips from PayPal, visit:

Lost Pet Long-Distance Scam

As an Internet ScamBusters subscriber, you probably know that dialing numbers with an 809 area code can lead to astronomical phone bills. Well, in San Diego, a scammer is now using the same “809” scheme to prey on grieving owners of lost pets.

The scammer looks for lost pet announcements (in newspapers or signs on telephone poles), then calls to say that a Mexican worker took your pet back to Tijuana.

When you call the Tijuana phone number, the scammer’s associates string you along with broken English and misunderstandings, until you’ve racked up hundreds of dollars on the phone bill — with no pet in sight.

For more on the 809 scam:

Very useful tip: If you’re not sure where a telephone number is located, use this free Area Code Decoder:

Bill Gates Email Chain Letter

We get questions about this one so frequently that we decided we definitely needed to include it in this issue…

You receive an email forwarded from a friend that tells you:

Bill Gates is testing a new email-tracking program, and he wants your help. All you have to do is forward this email to all your friends…

I can’t even type this one with a straight face. It’s a scam through and through.

Here’s what part of the spam looks like:

… When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (if you are a Microsoft Windows user) for a two week time period. For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00, for every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, you will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a cheque. …

First off, email-tracking programs don’t exist. And even if they did, would Microsoft really pay you $200+ per email? That’s what they have software testers for.

The email asks, “What do you have to lose?” The goodwill of your friends and family, for starters!

Remember, any email that asks you to forward it to your friends is a scam. We literally know of no exceptions.

For more on this scam and its many forms, visit:

Nigerian 419 Scam Leads to Embezzlement

Victims in the Nigerian fee or 419 scam usually end up hurting themselves. But according to the FBI, a Michigan woman embezzled $2.1 million from her employer in the hopes of taking in millions.

Preying on victims’ greed, the Nigerian 419 scam (named for a section in the Nigerian Criminal Code) offers them a substantial portion of a sum of money if they help ‘Nigerian officials’ to transfer the money out of the country. Once the victim is hooked, the scammer keeps coming up with excuses and delays, requesting more and more ‘fees’ in return for the promise of big cash.

In this case, the woman, on the promise of making $4.5 million, allegedly wired 13 amounts ranging from $9,400 to $360,000 from the law firm where she worked as a bookkeeper to offshore accounts. The missing money only came to light when a check written by the law firm bounced.

Don’t be blinded by greed. Any time you receive an email claiming to be from an official you don’t know, promising large sums of money, think ‘scam.’

You can read the full story at:

More information on the Nigerian 419 scam at:

It’s Your Turn to ‘Torture a Spammer’

On a lighter note…

Tired of your email inbox being filled with unwanted offers for making money fast, porn, and herbal Viagra? Some days it’s enough for you to want to take an axe to your computer — or, better yet, the spammers that fill your email with such garbage.

Instead, take a look at the fun online game “Torture a Spammer.” Created by Anne Holland of, it lets you take aim at those unwanted emails, and lets you choose your method of torture (boiling oil, flying killer monkeys, dynamite, etc.).

For those of you interested in viral Internet marketing, this is a great example. Viral marketing doesn’t have anything to do with computer viruses — it usually involves a Web site that’s so fun or entertaining that you simply have to tell your friends about it, and of course there’s a way to email them right from the site. When your friends visit, they tell more friends, and so on.

Give it a try: blast a spammer at

These Wealthy Fifteen Are Truly Characters

More on a lighter note…

If you’re curious about the comparative Net Worth of Montgomery Burns, Richie Rich, Cruella De Vil, and Santa Claus, the folks at Forbes have created just the list for you:

The Forbes Fictional Fifteen.

Paralleling their list of the Forbes 400, the 400 richest Americans, Forbes decided to create a ranked list of the 15 richest fictional characters.

Visit and chuckle:

That’s it for now. We have a very important issue of Internet ScamBusters coming soon.