iPhone 5 Scam

•September 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hey, want a brand new iPhone 5? For FREE!

Of course you do, and you might be one of the few lucky people who actually get one. But you’re not going to get it from an offer on Facebook.

Really, by now you should know that it’s a scam.

Most of the fake give aways lure in victims with headlines like “iPhone Giveway” (yes, with that misspelling) and “Innovative iPhone 5 Giveaway” (exactly how a giveaway is a scam, I’m not sure. Of course, the scam itself isn’t all that innovative either).

It’s not that you could never ever get a free iPhone 5. Some companies legitimately give them away. Chances are, though, that you won’t find those offers on Facebook. And they won’t have terrible misspellings.

What does scammers possibly get from this? They typically use the fake ads to attract traffic to websites or surveys. When you click on the ad, it sends you to a site that takes advantage of you by either asking you to fill out a survey to sign up for the iPhone drawing, or infects your computer with a virus that can steal your personal information. Luckily, most clickjackers aren’t sophisticated enough to make a real virus. Clickjacking is so easy that you could learn how to do it within a couple hours, and that’s assuming you’re not a very tech savvy person.

As with all things in life, you have to pay attention to the “free” things that you take. All too often, the price is much higher than you suspect.


Facebook Email Scam

•August 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

If you have an active Facebook profile, then you probably get notifications from the website on a regular basis. How much do you trust those emails to contain accurate information? What precautions do you take to make sure that the emails really come from Facebook rather than someone phishing for private information?

Phisphing email scams have been a part of Web culture since the Internet was open to the public. Even back in the days of Usenet groups, people spammed each other with phishing scams.

Recently, someone started impersonating Facebook to convince people that they can feel safe submitting their private info.

In this particular scam, the email claims that you have a received a message via Facebook, but that the message has been lost. How did this happen? Not important! Do you want that message or not?

The problem, of course, is that the notification is completely fabricated. There never was a lost message in your Facebook inbox.

What should you do if you get this email? Take steps to make sure that you don’t get more from the same scam artist. Start by blocking the email address of the sender. That should send future messages directly to your spam or junk folder.

If you aren’t sure whether the email comes from a legitimate source, then you can always contact Facebook to find out. To find more information, you can visit the Facebook Security page. It offers a lot of suggestions that can help you stay safe online so that you don’t fall victims to phishers.


Spam King Faces Charges, Could Get Jail Time

•August 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Sanford Wallace, better known as the Spam King, might finally face the consequences of sending unwanted, and often fraudulent, emails. Wallace faces charges from the US Department of Justice, which says that the spammer used phisphing techniques to steal private passwords from individuals.

I think I just heard a collective “booya!” from every email user in the world.

This isn’t the first time that Wallace has been in trouble. Myspace, Facebook, and the US Federal Trade Commission have all sued him for sending spam.

Facebook has even banned him from their network. Not surprisingly, there are rumors that Wallace started another account under a different name. Facebook also won 71 million dollars in the suit. So that’s how they make money!

Apparently the current charges have been in process for some time. They were just made public earlier this month. Wallace faces some pretty serious consequences if he’s found guilty of the charges. He could even spend up to 16 years in prison. I’d guess that he probably won’t go to a nice prison that allows email access either.

Currently, Wallace is out on bail ($100,000).

This is a good thing because it shows cybercriminals that there are laws that can affect them. For a long time, it has seemed that these people were above the law. They used a lot of sneaky methods to cover their tracks and protect their identities. If this guy, the Spam King, gets taken down, though, it means that others could be in trouble soon. They aren’t safe from the law. It just might take a few years to track them down and make them pay.

Jackie Chan: You Are Not Alone in Virtual Death

•August 31, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Newsflash: Jackie Chan isn’t dead. Nor are a bunch of other celebrities who supposedly keeled over recently. Facebook posts can make untrue events seem very real. No matter how well the hoax is executed, though, it cannot alter reality.

Here are some of theĀ  most popular celebrity death rumors that have spread via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Justin Beiber

First, he committed suicide. That didn’t kill him, so he overdosed on drugs. Still alive, Justin Beiber continued to die in various ways. According to Beiber, he must have died about six times by now. None of them have taken, though. The young star, however, has killed a lot of time updating his Twitter posts so that people don’t think he has finally perished.

Will Smith

Will Smith died twice in May 2011. The first time, he died of a drug overdose. Just two days later, however, he died when he fell from a cliff in New Zealand. As crazy as the cliff death might sound, I think it’s actually more believable than the OD story. Obviously I don’t know the guy, but can you really imagine him getting really, really high?

Paris Hilton

A part of me believes every death rumor that I read about Paris Hilton. Considering the lifestyle that she has read, every rumor is potentially true. My personal favorite Hilton death occurred in 2007. After getting arrested for a DUI, someone stabbed her to death in jail. Now tell me you don’t believe that just a little bit.


A Hurricane of Misinformation

•August 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Ideally, humankind could use communication tools like Facebook to share important information with each other. But where’s the fun in meaningful messages? It seems to me that a large percentage of Facebook members just want to pass on the most ridiculous misinformation that they can find, even when it comes to something as potentially menacing as a hurricane.

Hurricane Irene gets an important historical note for reaching much farther up the coast than other summer storms over the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, it reached so high that Yale lost power for a few days, only managing to recover Sunday afternoon.

Still, the hurricane wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Some people died, some buildings were destroyed. Other than its ambitious size, it was a pretty normal hurricane.

Reading posts on Facebook and Twitter, however, could make you believe that this has been a monumental storm.

Part of the hysteria could come from actual journalists. Journalists have been pressured into posted information on Facebook and Twitter in real time. That makes it impossible for them to report concise facts or meaningful thoughts. Instead, they post the first things that pop into their heads. And like many people, the first reaction that they have is fear.

A post from a seemingly responsible journalist can get a lot of attention. In the moment, though, that journalist probably doesn’t any more than some random person in your apartment building. But posts from reliable news sources get reposted as if they are infallible.

This suggests that individuals reading posts from news sources should scrutinize every piece of information. I think it also suggests that Facebook isn’t the right medium for news. As long as readers keep reading, though, writers will keep posting regardless of how informed they actually are.

Jackie Chan is Dead

•August 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Jackie Chan, how many times will you die and return from the great beyond?

A Facebook group helpfully named RIP Jackie Chan announced today that the martial arts film star had passed away. I think it was last year that Chan died immediately following a heart attack.

Seeing as how Chan is currently hard at work on his upcoming film “1911,” it’s pretty obvious that he has returned from the grave. Anyone thinking about starting a cult should probably contact his publicist immediately. This guy’s superpowers are unbelievable! He not only kicks and punches, but he returns from the dead.

Celebrity deaths get a lot of attention on Facebook, even when they celebrities haven’t actually died. Something about human nature and the state of modern technology create an environment that makes us all want to see all stars fall. Another way of looking at this, of course, is that Facebook makes it possible for us to send messages to large amounts of people without ever considering whether you should or should not send the message. Facebook, in other words, makes it possible for us to drunk dial all of our friends, even when we haven’t had anything to drink.

Fans of Jackie Chan were no doubt shocked to learn that the star had passed on. Soon, though, they will be shocked to see that he hasn’t actually died. The affable martial arts star will continue to churn out movie after movie for the foreseeable future. He’s alive and kicking, despite any rumors that you might have seen on Facebook or Twitter.

Amber Alerts Less Effective in the Days of Online Social Networking

•July 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

How do you respond when you see an Amber alert post on Facebook?

Do you feel concerned for the child and its parents, pass the message on to your friends, and keep a vigilant eye for any suspicious activity?

Or do you think “terrific. Probably another stupid hoax,” and roll on with your day without ever thinking about the alert again?

The catch is that you could be right either way. In the days of online social networking, it’s possible that a torrent of fake Amber alerts and other catastrophes have made us less sympathetic. Tools such as Facebook and Twitter can help the police get their message out to millions of people quickly, but how many of those people shrug and immediately forget about it immediately. Some of us even get frustrated when we see these messages online. False versions have become so rampant, that many users have started to assume that they are all fake.

Plus, there’s the possibility that the Facebook post about the Amber alert is accurate, but that the amber alert is, in itself, completely inaccurate, such as this instance told by Paula Simons at the Edmonton Journal.

Given the serious nature of Amber alerts (no matter how many fake ones you have seen, there is always the possibility that one is about a real child who needs help), every person has the responsibility to check the legitimacy of a post before passing it on. That’s all that it would take to limit the number of hoaxes that spread via Facebook. Limiting the number, would mean fewer cries of “wolf,” which would make the legitimate alerts more effective.