Due Diligence
by Bob Osgoodby

Most of us think of hype as exaggerated or extravagant claims, 
made especially in advertising or promotional material. Sometimes 
it is deceptive and deliberately misleading. While we have 
become a bit immune to this through constant exposure, it always 
seems that someone comes up with a fresh approach that is not 
immediately recognized. 

Con artists have been around since the beginning of time, and 
are always willing to take advantage of another "hot prospect". 
But every scam has "red flags" and a little common sense should 
prevail so you do not fall prey to them. Let's examine a few we 
get by email everyday. 

"Complimentary Vacation Package" - this one has been around a 
long time, but has now found its way to the web. It starts off 
with "Congratulations! You will be our guest in Orlando, 
Florida, home of Walt Disney World, for 4 days and 3 nights. 
All compliments of major Vacation Resort Developers." Reading 
it, you might feel you have won a contest. In actuality, this 
is not the case. It is a high pressure sales campaign designed 
to sell you a "timeshare" vacation package. 

Another variation promises deeply discounted vacation packages. 
You pay for a package that seems great on the surface, but in 
reality is either third rate accommodations or doesn't exist at 

"Guaranteed Winner" - they state - "You're going to get one of 
these top five prizes, guaranteed!" In this scam you normally 
send some information, and either return it by email or fill out 
a form on a web site. They require that you supply your 
telephone number to be eligible. You will then be contacted by a 
telemarketer who confirms that you have been chosen for one of 
the five "valuable" prizes; however, you must pay a processing 
fee for handling, customs duties or taxes, and you must send a 
check or money order to them by overnight mail. The prize usually 
winds up being small trinkets of minimal value, discount coupons 
or vouchers, worth far less than what you paid. 

Or, you might receive an e-mail informing you that your order has 
been received and processed, and your credit card will be billed 
for the charges. The trouble is, you haven't ordered anything. 
They contacted you using bulk email, using inactive return 
addresses which prevent you from refuting the orders by email. 
They do provide a telephone number in the area code 767, which 
is actually in the West Indies. They try to keep callers on the 
line as long as possible, and you are reportedly billed as much 
as $25 per minute. Be aware that your local telephone company 
may bill for services provided by other companies, and not be 
able to provide you relief. 

Another current scam floating about the web offers you a cut of 
stolen money from Nigeria that was stolen and they need your help 
getting the money out of the country. They of course want a cut 
of the money that they claim will be wired to your personal bank 
account. You of course are expected to pay them their share 
up front. The money however never arrives in your bank. 

One group sends hundreds of thousands of unsolicited emails to 
people directing them to web sites promoting the Mega$Nets and 
MegaResource programs. When you visit one of their web sites you 
can download copies of the software program which contains a list 
of five names and addresses. The software program and web sites 
direct you to send twenty dollars to each of five people listed 
in the software in order for you to get yourself placed at the 
top of the list of names. This is simply a variation of the old 
fashioned chain letter. Actually, there are a lot of chain 
letters floating about the web and all should be avoided. 

Another email promises guaranteed Credit Card approval! One group 
offered Visa cards to the credit-challenged "to put you back in 
the mainstream of financial life in high style" at an interest 
rate of only 4.9%. How? Through the magic of using offshore banks 
in tax haven countries. There is however a $100 processing fee 
and $25 per month charge regardless of use. 

Some people really believe that they have been selected to be in 
the Internet Version of "Who's Who". This one started years ago 
and was sent to every company executive in the country - They 
will include your listing at no charge - oh, would you like a 
copy?  "Send $98 to us and it will be delivered to your 

There is no way to adequately cover all the scams that permeate 
the web. Before jumping into any of these "make a million while 
you sleep" plans, use a little "due diligence" and check them 
out. The money you save will be your own. 

Did you know that subscribers to Bob Osgoodby's Free Ezine the
"Tip of the Day" get a Free Ad for their Business at his Web
Site? Great Business and Computer Tips - Monday thru Friday.
Instructions on how to place your ad are in the Newsletter.
Subscribe at: http://adv-marketing.com/business/subscribe2.htm