Scamming The Scammers

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are over 24 million small businesses in the Unuted States, and the number is growing by almost a million a year. At the same time, the number of Internet scams is increasing markedly.

Columns From: 3/1/2000 Modern Machine Shop,

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), there are over 24 million small businesses in the Unuted States, and the number is growing by almost a million a year. At the same time, the number of Internet scams is increasing markedly. And small business is a favorite target. Once upon a time, not too long ago, scammers sent businesses elaborate brochures and enticing descriptions of their services by snail mail or by hard-sell phone solicitations. Now these purveyors of pernicious propaganda deluge your e-mail box with a countless assortment of scummy scams . . . all aimed at separating you from your hard-earned capital.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that most Internet scams arrive by means of Bulk E-Mail. And the accent is on "bulk." There are scammers out there who are willing to sell you millions of e-mail addresses culled from the Internet and packaged to meet your business requirements. You, in turn, can send these harvested e-mail addresses bulk solicitations of your own. Some of these bulk e-mail providers offer software that automates sending e-mail messages to recipients. Others will even send bulk e-mail solicitations for you. Most bulk e-mail providers insinuate that you can make a huge amount of money using their marketing techniques and "tricks". They neglect to mention that sending bulk e-mail violates the "terms of service" (TOS) of most Internet service providers (ISPs). If you use automated ("robotic") bulk e-mail programs your ISP may terminate your account.

A classic scam, with a long history prior to the Internet, is the Chain Letter. This rip-off intimidates you to send a small amount of money ($2 - $5 usually) to each name (5-10 usually) on a list, substitute the names on the list with your own, and then forward the amended message by means of bulk e-mail. The law virtually always prohibits chain letters.

Another high-profile scam is the Investment Scheme. These scams promise dishonorably high "return rates" on a preliminary investment with little or no risk. Most are ambiguous about the nature of the investment, drawing attention to the escalating rates of return. These schemes go bust when there isn’t enough money coming in to continue replicating earnings.

Finally, there are the well-known Business-Opportunities-Of-A-Lifetime. These hoaxes make it sound so effortless to start a business that will bring lots of profits and earnings without much physical exertion or out-of-pocket expenditures. These solicitations boast mind-boggling proceeds and claim that such "e-businesses" do not involve marketing, business meetings or networking with others, or that somebody else will do all the work. Most of these are, of course, illegal pyramid schemes.

Small Business Owner Beware. Bulk e-mail solicitations and all sorts of Internet Get-Rich-Quick-Schemes will take a big bite out of your bottom line.

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