Further to your feature article on the most popular scams of 2003 (African Business January 2003), I thought your readers might be interested in what the US Federal Trade Commission has identified as the dozen most common scams to arrive in an email box. The "dirty dozen" are:
Business opportunities: Many business opportunity solicitations claim to offer a way to make money in an internet-related business. Short on details but long on promises, these messages usually offer a telephone number to call for more information. In many cases, you'll be told to leave your name and telephone number so that a salesperson can call you back with the sales pitch.
Bulk email: Solicitations offer to sell you lists of email addresses, by the millions, to which you can send your own bulk solicitations. Few legitimate businesses, if any, engage in bulk email marketing for fear of offending potential customers.
Chain letters: You're asked to send a small amount of money to each of four or five names on a list, replace one of the names on the list with your own, and then forward the revised message via bulk email. Chain letters--traditional or high-tech--are almost always illegal, and nearly all of the people who participate in them lose their money.
Work-at-home schemes: Envelope-stuffing solicitations promise steady income for minimal labour. You'll pay a small fee to get started in the envelope-stuffing business, then you'll realise that the email sender never had real employment to offer.
Health and diet scams: Pills and formulas that promise you'll lose weight. Invariably the only thing that loses any weight is your wallet.
Effortless income: The trendiest get-rich-quick schemes offer unlimited profits exchanging money on world currency markets. But if these systems worked, who would sell the secret?
Free goods: Some email messages offer valuable goods if you pay a fee to join a club, then you're told that to earn the goods, you have to bring in a certain number of participants. Almost all of the payoff...