This tidy little set of text-based links from a Coffs Harbour ISP provide some great basic information about how to use the Internet for fun, profit, and safety. It's basically an archive of Marilyn Williams' local newspaper articles, but put together and accessed from one page on-line, it's a formidable foray into the ins and outs of Internet life. Everything form scams, viruses, junk mail, e-commerce and how the Internet can make you an instant criminal, through to choosing a computer - it's all here for the newbie - and you may find even the seasoned surfer could benefit from a quick read as well.
Verdict: Harbouring information - nothing to sCoff at. (ouch) - SS
Cyberspace Law Lessons
It's a very fluid thing at the moment, cyber law - as politicians and lawyers come to grips with the relatively quiet revolution that is taking place on this planet right now. Stealing jewellery is obviously theft, but how do you handle right-clicking on a JPEG that someone spent days creating? The Cyberspace Law Institute offers 80 lessons covering copyright to privacy, free speech, trademark law, contract law, dispute resolution and content regulation. The facts are changing even as we speak, but it's advisable to be well informed and armed with as many facts as possible as you head of into the surf and confront the myriad of sharks, stonefish, electronic eels and Portugese men o' war out there.
Verdict: Know your rights. Then find a loophole! - SS
Net Worth: ****
Women Halting Online Abuse
For half the world's population, getting on line means potentially being confronted with the same kinds of disrespectful treatment as in the real world. Yes just being a woman, even if you are just a feminine gendered nick-name, can cause men's testosterone-driven physiologies to inspire them to all the typical behaviours seen throughout the natural world. Competing for a mate, posturing for attention, bragging, and ultimately some attempt to breed. Unfortunately, most women just want to surf the net, and every time they reveal their gender, they risk becoming victim to some uncontrollable stranger's libido. This is called harassment, (newsflash dudes) and women don't like it. WHOA are getting the message out, and supporting sites that adopt anti-harassment policies. If only the men realised how ineffective their attempts were, they might just learn to be nice guys and actually "get laid" once in a while - if that's their natural objective.
Verdict: Get your knuckles off the ground, guys. - SS
Scams On The Net
This page is just a mammoth set of links that cover every imaginable scam out there. The Nigerian 419 scam (a potential killer), phone scams, newsgroup scams - in fact anywhere there is a dollar to be made, lawfully or not, there is an opportunist working his genius to get some action. The Internet is an absolute goldmine of scamming opportunities, as newcomers, signing on in droves, not understanding the medium, leave themselves wide open to deception. Some of these links are dead, as it is a massive list, but following just a few of them will give you an alarming insight into the human condition - which lies somewhere between a vulture and a shark.
Verdict: The predators are stalking you. - SS
Australian Securities and Investments Commission
The cute cartoon doggie wagging its tail and digging for bones around this site contrast with the serious and profound content of this formidable site. This is where the legalese meets road. Anything at all to do with investing or operating a company, scrupulous or otherwise, is covered. The Gull Awards, are quite a read, where the scammers and the scammed are laughed at, with an underlying air of caution for future fools.
Verdict: If life was a monopoly board, this is the "Go" square. - SS
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Formed from a merger of the Trade Practices Commission and the Prices Surveillance Authority, the ACCC is working to make the world of buying and selling a safer place to live. Being well versed in the kinds of dodgy activities that are practiced, their approach to the Internet is informed and effective when it comes to pinpointing potential scams and schemes that you'd best stay away from. They conduct an annual "sweep" of the net finding the worst pyramid schemes, miracle cures and other get-rich-quick scams, and offer a set of 6 fact sheets to fill you in on the current state of play.
Verdict: Seeking out the snake oil salesmen. - SS
Consumer Fraud Consumer Alert
A well meaning web page who's power is diminished by its own design. Intended as an alert for unsuspecting cyber-travellers, this mass of message postings leaves you slightly pre-warned, and slightly dishevelled. Everyone is logging on a complaining about being ripped off by someone, from perfume salesmen to network marketers, but then others log on to defend them, and the sales people log on to do more selling. It's messy, and unorganised, but it does give you a good cross section of actual personal encounters with unscrupulousness. Follow the link to Vice Squad home and find similar pages on other topics.
Verdict: Its as messy as the subject it deals with.- SS
Web Psychos, Stalkers and Pranksters.
This is the site of the book about Internet crooks and con-men. Besides promoting the book itself with reviews and excerpts, there are many avenues provided to take the information further. Links galore (some dead) and articles on related topics are presented. Since the creator actually had the research skills to write a book, you can be sure the quality of material here is relatively high. Learn more about how your computer can be used by hackers and crims, and how, if you're not careful, the Internet can become as scary as a dark inner city alley way. Be warned.
Verdict: Marketing our fear of the new medium. - SS
Con Games.com by Con Game Authority Travis Dacolias
This man knows all the tricks of the scheisters and charlatans of the world. He loves to study the ingenious plans that people cook up, and loves to see them busted. He has been caught out himself a couple of times. Once he was consulted by a magazine about con artists who pick up women, and they published all the tricks he told them, as advice to their readers! There are some good book recommendations and some great links. This is the psychology of tricking people, and really something we should have all learned about in school. Humans really are extremely gullible creatures.
Verdict: Exposing the mind games that we can all fall prey to. - SS
The MMF Hall of Humiliation
MMF stands for "make money fast" and here they poke fun at the whole idea. Some people do make money fast, and quite often they are the exact same people who are promising that you will. The site here is a little in need of more content, but what it has is good quality scam-busting, and they like to have a bit of fun along the way. If you have something of interest, let them know, it surely can't hurt the anti-scam cause. Their humorous dissection of junk mail in the MMF of the week archive is a good laugh. Might give you some ideas of how to reply to some of the ones you've been getting lately.
Verdict: Putting the scammers in the cyber stocks and throwing the virtual tomatoes. - SS
Junkbusters Home Page
Junk e-mail is a worldwide phenomenon, so Junkbusters comes in 15 different languages to help us all come to terms with the burgeoning instances of this desperate attempt by losers to become winners. Self defence techniques, how to avoid your personal information being spread around, banishing banner ads and cookies, and regular news of the political lobbying these guys undertake, against the corporate and legal minefield that is consumers rights in cyberspace. At least someone is in their batting for us, while the mega marketing corporations plan their digital enslavement of the masses.
Verdict: It's a conspiracy I tells ya! - SS
Big Brother Inside
It seems Intel have arranged for a unique PSN, or processor serial number, to be allotted to every new PIII chip. If you believe what is documented here, it is designed to allow marketing companies to track your web activity completely, and provide a means of identifying you when you try to access certain things on the net. This is seen as a gross intrusion of privacy, and puts a great deal of power into the hands of a few big companies. Power to know who you are and what you do, and where you go, and who you talk to. It would be alright if we all had that information, then we could make collective decisions about humanity, but in the hands of profiteers, it is merely another way to distance consumers from producers, and put us all at their capitalistic mercy.
Verdict: Scary stuff indeed, unless of course you like the idea of having a big brother. - SS
Welcome to Web Police
Springing out of the very early incarnations of the Internet, Web Police organisers quickly saw the revolution that was about to take place and decided to take it upon themselves to become the guardians of goodness in Cyberspace. An awesome network has been established through InterGov, the "United Nations of the Internet" to provide essential links to crime fighters and victims of crime everywhere on this little globe we call home. This is more than just a bunch of anti spammers - this is a world community of high ideals and no boundaries. The police bit is just trying to mop up our messy pre-web past.
Verdict: The real New World Order - minus graphics - SS
Welcome to ScamWatch
As part of the InterGov network, Scamwatch is a testament to the length and breadth of their coverage. This organisation is serious and determined to influence the net community to do the right thing at all times. What you'll find here is every imaginable fraud and scam documented and detailed with advice on how to avoid them, what to look for in a seemingly bona fide e-mail, and the opportunity to report anything that might have happened to you, so it can be investigated, reported and stopped. Thank you Scam Watch!
Verdict: Modern day crime fighting superheroes - SS
The National Fraud Information Centre
Another resource for fraud alert, warning, tips and safeguards and security. There is a statistical run down of rip-offs and how the increase of net users is creating a proportionate increase in scammers and con artists. This subject matter is very dry, it would be nice to see a bit more colour in the web sites. This one is yet another plain text, info-based site that besides getting a glimpse into Internet crime for a few minutes, you wouldn't really think of book marking it in a gigayear.
Verdict: Dry as a bone, helpful as your average boy scout. - SS
Computer Virus Myths Home Page
It's bad enough all the trouble a computer virus can cause, but it's almost as bad all the scare mongering and fear elevation being done by virus hoaxers - geeks who cry "wolf". Sadly, our fear of getting our hard drives wiped is easy prey for those that know a little more about computers than we do. They like to watch us shake in our boots, madly telling all our friends about the impending disaster, while they sit back in their ergonomic chairs and laugh at our ignorance and fear. Sometimes they capitalise on it by selling solutions to these non-existent bugs. The "help a poor dog to win a holiday" and the "it takes guts to say Jesus" viruses for example. Read all about them in this expertly informed and balanced look at the reality of viruses and their mythical cousins.
Verdict: Beat the hysteria and chuckle with your new-found confidence. - SS
#1 Value Fax
Here is a scheme that a few of the sites are warning people about. Italian-based Future Strategies is running a couple of classic pyramid schemes with all the trademarks of a scam, disguised under Italian law as a legitimate "wealth redistribution" system. There are sites that will tell you the accurate maths of this system make a consistent 96-odd percent of participants losers - so I guess the wealth is being redistributed, alright. FS make $80.00 every time someone hops on board this exciting new journey into suckerdom.
Verdict: Who knows, maybe it really does work...... - SS
MLM Truth Coalition
Multi-Level Marketing has its own acronym now, it is such a popular pursuit. Trouble is there is such a fine line between MLM and pyramid selling in most peoples' perception, and even standard commercial enterprise (in my eyes). After all isn't our whole world basically one giant pyramid scheme, with a huge bunch of poor losers, a select tiny group of extremely rich people at the top, and a multitude of in-betweeners hustling and bustling for the commissions of those above and below them on the scale? MLM Truth believes that MLM is a highly credible system, and wants to distance itself as far as possible from the product-less pyramid chain-letter-style scams. The other desired goal is to encourage those involved in network marketing to see more positive aspects and realise their wealth potential through persistence and self-belief.
Verdict: The alternative way to the 'spam' way.- SS
E-Commerce and the Internet
The American Government's Federal Trade Commission provides a selection of documents covering issues of Internet law, consumer safety and fraud survival. There are plenty of good tips on how to spot a rip-off, bulk e-mail scams, business "flop-portunities" and Y2K alerts and updates. The information is set out in a basic format, with links to each piece. Consumer and business education, media releases, comments, testimonies and public education workshops. A concise and thorough take on the current issues that affect all of us, and that we should all be wary of.
Verdict: Thanks .gov! - SS
Canadian Mounties Latest Scams
Like most other government agencies charged with fighting crime, the Canadian Mounted Police offer us their latest discoveries as to who is being ripped off by whom. Monetary and resource theft, fraud and trickery are exposed. There are some pretty bold crims out there, but the mounties have a reputation to uphold, and they're not going to let these slippery suckers get away, even if they have to chase them through optical fibre on horseback! Check the bulk e-mail "dirty dozen", and the amazing feats of "Investors International" - who are now searching for a bit of action down under.
Verdict: They always get their scam. - SS
A Free Award-Winning E-Zine Internet Scambusters.
This e-zine, courtesy of Netrageous claims to be the premier publication on Internet fraud. There are a few contenders, to be sure, but Scambusters is well up the list as a cyber-publication. It is laid out well, with an easy to follow menu of the major fraud risks, followed by a selection of feature articles providing assistance in learning how to prepare yourself for the onslaught of attempted trickery. There is a scam check station, and a free t-shirt given away to the person who finds the worst scam of the month. Not that there are any shortages of contenders. Also here are real virus alerts and not so real urban legends.
Verdict: Forewarned is forearmed. Check it out. - SS
Cyberthrill Casino Refuses to Pay Me
Here is an Internet business operator of on-line chat rooms, who claims to have been shafted by one of the advertising click-through programs he subscribed to, to the tune of $1200. It's a victim's account of how it all went down, and provides other victims' testimony as well as media accounts, and a call to try and sue the company, which operates from the Bahamas. Whoever is in the right or wrong here, it is a warning to be careful who you are dealing with in the totally impersonal on-line world.
Verdict: Not so thrilling once you get stung a few times. - SS
Better Business Bureau
The BBB have a strong reputation for promoting good business practice and ethical standards in the marketplace. That is why unscrupulous operators on the net like to copy their seal of approval to add credibility to a scam. BBB has a network of approved on line merchants, and as such has to defend its position against swindlers by hunting them down and alerting the press, the government and consumers. This has turned the BBB into a high-powered net police, exposing trickery everywhere. From ISP's who "cram" their bills with extra charges, to shonky polls and dishonest claims, the scum of cyberspace is slowly being cleaned up.
Verdict: You'd Better Bloody Bookmark it. - SS
This is a harrowing account of one woman's constant battle with dodgy dealers to get an Internet business going. After being ripped off so many times, the only way she could purge her shame at feeling such a fool, was to create this site and try and reverse the horrifying trend. One website she went to for help actually turned out to be another shonky dealer pretending to be a scam help site! She had a domain name stolen and lost thousands, but on the upside, she has learned in her own attempts to run a successful web business how to do it ethically and fairly by not doing what was done to her. What a payback! Ah the lessons of business. She's no fool now.
Verdict: Learn from someone else's mistakes. - SS
Cyberthrill Administration Killer
I don't know if this actually works. Hacker "Munga Bunga" has created a Java script that signs on thousands of fake memberships, five at a time to Cyberthrill, alleged rip-off artists and casino operators. It is his own personal terrorist attack on the company he perceives to be unscrupulous and criminal, so he is overloading their server with garbage, in a juvenile act of revenge. This kinda seems appropriate, considering some companies seem to be using a "nya nya nya can't catch me I live in the Bahama's" approach to running their businesses. Whether it actually works or not, it feels good to be flooding a perceived scammer while you check your e-mails for more junk.
Verdict: The victims fight back. - SS.