Thursday, March 02, 2006

Internet scams, phishing & AOL suits

The Securities & Exchange Commission Monday has issued a warning to the public about “paid autosurf’ web sites. There are numerous such sites on the Internet. Some of them are legitimate, but others—especially those promising to pay “members” huge profits— can be scams, an article in the Wall Street Journal (subscription) said yesterday.

Paid “auto-surf” programs are an enormous industry on the Internet, but can also sometimes be used to set up scams. A “member” goes to the site, clicks on an automatic surfer which leads to a set or series of ads, and then receives some sort of monetary credit… maybe.

These types of scams, the article commented, “wouldn’t be possible without the help of legitimate, mainstream Internet businesses, raising the question of whether these companies are—wittingly or unwittingly—playing a role in the growing scourge of Internet-based frauds.”

The Security & Exchange Commission has an “auto-surfing” informational bulletin posted as well as one on “Avoiding Internet Investment Scams

Related, an article on recently reported research done by the Office of Fair Trading in England that said “nearly half of the UK population—or 20 million consumers over the age of 15—have been targeted by a scam,” and, contrary to expectations, the main focus of scammers is not necessarily the obviously more vulnerable groups of older people or those more isolated from social networks such as workplace environments.

Time Warner/America Online, Monday, filed lawsuits against “phishers” charging them with attempting to trick AOL subscribers with fake websites of legitimate companies in order to obtain personal information. The cases ( 1:06-cv-00206-CMH-BRP, 1:06-cv-00207-CMH-BRP, and 1:06-cv-00208-CMH-BRP), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia are seeking a combined judgment of $18 million. (Pacer)

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