The Spanish Prisoner Scam

This a very old scam and is the origin of the modern Nigerian 419 scams (also called the Advance Fee scam) and shows that some scams have roots from a long time ago.

The Spanish Prisoner scam is a confidence trick originating in the late 19th century. The fraudster tells the victim that he is (or is in correspondence with) a wealthy person of high estate who has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity.

The fraudster offers to let the victim put up some of the funds, with a promise of a greater monetary reward upon release of the prisoner plus another incentive  such as gaining the hand of a beautiful woman who is the prisoner’s daughter.

After the victim has paid the ransom, he is told that further difficulties have arisen, and more money is needed. The fraudster continues to press for more money until the victim is cleaned out or refuses to pay any more.

A key element of the Spanish Prisoner scam is an emphasis on secrecy. The Police cannot be involved and identity of the prisoner cannot be revealed. The scammer will claim to have chosen the victim, based on his reputation for honesty and straight dealing.

This fraud came to be known as the “Spanish Prisoner” because, often, the letter-writer claimed to be trapped in a Spanish jail, for reasons arising from the Spanish-American War. The letter was written on thin, blue, cross-lined paper, such as is used for foreign letters, and is written as fairly well-educated foreigners write English, with a word misspelled here and there, and an occasional foreign idiom.

Modern Version

In the advance-fee fraud, a valuable item must be ransomed from customs or an impound or lost-baggage service before the authorities realise its value and block the repossession.

In the Nigerian 419 scam, a relative of a deposed African dictator or Libyan leader or Iraqi leader (or similar countries leaders) offers to transfer items (gold or diamonds or bearer bonds or just cash) worth millions of dollars to the victim in return for small initial payments to cover release fees and other expenses.

Another variation spreads via hijacked social media accounts, where a message is sent to all the social media contacts of the victim, claiming that the victim is in a foreign country, has been robbed, and needs money to be sent immediately to pay for hospital bills or airline tickets or to bribe the Police in order to escape the country etc. and paid by Western Union or similar money transfer agents.

This scam is very well know but large numbers of scammers still use it in some form and people still fall for it in and in total lose hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Trusteer Rapport

Trusteer Rapport is a free security tool that’s often promoted by banks for online banking.

It’s advertised as an additional layer of security over and above anti-virus software. It is designed to protect confidential data, such as account credentials, from being stolen by malicious software (malware) or by phishing.

The software includes anti-phishing measures to protect against misdirection and attempts to prevent malicious screen scraping; it attempts to protect users against the attacks know as:- man-in-the-browser, man-in-the-middle, session hijacking and screen capturing.

Trusteer Rapport is installed as a browser extension.

This all sounds very good, but there are reviews on the Internet suggesting that Trusteer can cause computers to run very slowly, cause conflicts with your already installed anti-virus software and cause browser crashes.

Various financial institutions have been distributing the software to their customers via internet banking services.

This has included:- Bank of America, Société Générale,Tangerine, INGDirect, HSBC,The Royal Bank of Scotland, CIBC, Ulster Bank, First Direct, Santander, Standard Bank of South Africa, Nedbank, Scotiabank and more.

It is usually good advice to follow your banks recommendations, but do be careful if you install Trusteer and report any problems immediately to your bank. .

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The New Breed of Computer Takeover Compensation Scam

A computer takeover scam has been doing the rounds for years now, where a scammer will call, claiming to be from Microsoft or Virgin or

BT or a similarly well-known company, saying that your computer has been hit with a virus and that they can remove it for you remotely. When you let them take over your computer, they then try to take as much personal information as possible (logins, password, card payment details etc.) in order to steal your identity or steal from your accounts.  

However, according to Financial Fraud Action (FFA) UK, scammers are branching out by impersonating other firms or organisations, and offering to help with a slow computer or internet connection, or even claiming your information has been hacked and you are due compensation.

The Scam

Once the victim has handed over remote control of their computer, the fraudster will tell the victim that they may be entitled to compensation, or put them through to a supervisor who will appear to make an offer of compensation.

The scammer will say that they are sending the money and ask the victim to log into their bank account to check that it has arrived.

But the fraudsters will put up a fake screen to make it appear that the money has arrived. Meanwhile they will be working away in the background to empty your bank account.

They may ask for a bank passcode to be sent by text, which they will claim is necessary in order to process the refund. In reality, they need this to set themselves up as a new payee from your bank account and take your money.

How to Protect Yourself

The FFA recommends following these steps to ensure you aren’t duped by this version of the scam:

  • be wary of any unsolicited approaches by phone offering compensation
  • do not let someone you do not know have access to your computer, especially remotely
  • do not log onto your bank account while someone else has control of your computer
  • do not share one-time passcodes or card reader codes with anyone
  • do not share your Pin or online banking password, even by tapping them into a telephone keypad.

If you are in doubt, then call the organisation back on a number you trust; if they are legitimate they will help.

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The eBAY Community

 

 

 

 

 

This is a website at https://community.ebay.co.uk/

“Welcome to the eBay Community … your community. It’s a meeting-point for eBay buyers and sellers to chat, ask questions, exchange advice and tips.”

“It is a discussion group for eBAY sellers and buyers to share useful information, ask each other questions, warn about scammers etc. and generally give feedback on anything eBAY that they wish to share..”

The site has:-

  • Answer Centre
  • Discussion Boards
  • Groups
  • Meet the Community Team
  • Community Content Policy
  • Board Usage Policy
  • eBay News
  • Safety Center
  • Feedback Forum
  • Buying Guides

The answer centre is filled with questions about everything to do with eBAY – and answers.

A check showed the most recent questions are to do with how do with:- can i block a specific address, refunds, Seller not replying about item guarantee, profile image,  VARIATIONS BUTTON MISSING, Relisting fees, item becomes faulty, Location etc.

The eBAY café is a group for people who want to chat about anything vaguely connected to eBAY such as how to look after plants they bought on eBAY.

The eBAY community website is well used so it can be a useful resource for some who would rather deal with human beings than eBAY automated answers.

Do enter your email address and click on the subscribe button on top right to keep up to date with new posts.

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