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Stupidest Scam of the Week Salt Lamps

Create a unique stress-free room”.

“Your sleeping problems will soon disappear”.

“Purifies the air”.

“Improve your immune system”.

“Oxygenate the brain”.

These are typical claims of scam offers selling salt lamps and especially Himalayan salt lamps.

These do exist and are lumps of Himalayan pink salt with a light bulb in the centre.

They are decorative pieces and perfectly safe to use.

But the scammers keep sending out deluges of emails claiming endless health claims for them which cannot be verified.

If you want such a lamp because it looks nice then find a good supplier – do not reply to spam emails.

If you want the claimed health benefits – you would do better to look elsewhere than a lump of salt with a bulb in it.

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Scams Awareness Network

www.scamwatch.gov.au/about-scamwatch/scams-awareness-network

The Scams Awareness Network (SAN), is made up of government regulatory agencies and departments in Australia and New Zealand that work alongside private sector, community and non-government partners to raise awareness about scams and disrupt them.

The core purpose of the SAN is for members to regularly share information about scams and to deliver a coordinated awareness campaign for consumers, including the Scams Awareness Week in August each year.

Members and partners of the SAN include government departments, national agencies, state and territory agencies, charities, the Police, banks, technology companies, small business and many more.

Scamwatch is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and provides information to consumers and small businesses about how to recognise, avoid and report scams.

Targeting Scams Report

The ACCC produces Targeting Scams: Report On Scam Activity each year. The report explains key trends in scam activity and highlights the impact of scams on the community. It also illustrates the collaborative work of the ACCC, other regulators and law enforcement agencies to disrupt scams and educate consumers.

Criminal Offences

Some scams may also be criminal offences when someone who commits fraud has acted dishonestly or by omission to deliberately deceive someone. Fraud is regulated under various acts, including state and territory criminal legislation and under Australia’s common law.

Where an actual crime has been committed, it’s best to contact the local police, or report it to ReportCyber if the crime has taken place online. ReportCyber helps law enforcement to better combat the growing threat of cybercrime in Australia. Common types of cybercrime include hacking, scams, fraud, identity theft, attacks on computer systems and illegal or prohibited content.

A consumer may be able to bring a private action in the Federal Court or in a state or territory Supreme Court. If the action is successful, the remedies sought could include damages, injunctions and other orders.

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Doodle Poll Scam

Doodle is a well known online scheduling tool. It is professional and used by a lot of people and has nothing to do with scams and scammers.

But, scammers do like to take advantage of other people and turn good things to a bad use.

There are numerous scams involving crypto currencies and this latest one uses Doodle for their scam messages. It is a typical Bitcoin scam but presumably to bypass spam filters this loser has used a Doodle Poll to send out the messages.

The Poll is supposedly to help ‘Curt’ to find the best date for his meeting but of course there is no meeting – just the usual drivel about Bitcoin millionaires.

Yes! You can get a  free Bitcoin!”.

“Earn up to $1000 per hour or more, starting today!”

As with all scam messages – beware clicking anything and now you have to be wary of Doodle polls as once a scammer finds a new method for delivering their lies – others will copy.

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Negative SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of optimising your website to get more people to find your web site via search engines. This uses a wide variety of techniques, including:-

  • Choosing the best keywords
  • Using those keywords in many places on the site, even in URLs
  • Organising links from other good websites
  • Good website design conforming to Google design standards
  • Creating and regularly publishing good quality original content
  • Correct use of headers, paragraphs etc.
  • Use of social media to publicise the website etc.

Negative SEO means sabotaging a competitor’s rankings in search engines, by reversing some of the same techniques as listed above but also using other underhanded or even criminal methods.

It is a set of activities aimed at lowering a competitor’s rankings in search results and typically includes one or more of the following:-

  • Creating lots of links from bad web sites
  • Copying content from the website to bad web sites
  • Adding negative reviews of the business
  • Hacking the web site

Bad Links

Adding a few links from bad websites won’t have a big effect but there are ‘link farms’ where large numbers of computers and/or people will create a lot of bad links which can then downgrade the search engines ranking of the website. A link farm can also be part of a group of web sites that all hyperlink to every other site in the group and these can be spotted by the search engines and any members correspondingly downgraded.

Hacking

If a hacker can get into your website, they can cause a lot of damage but in the case of trying to sabotage a web sites ranking, it is more likely the hackers will be more subtle in their activities so as to not draw attention to what they have done.

They can for example add links to bad sites but make them hidden links so only the search engines see them.  They could add hidden content that makes the site look like it is copying other sites.

If they want to be more direct, they could redirect the site so that people trying to get to the site end up at a site of their choice instead.  This is done by changing the DNS server settings that point to the web site.

Another method is to change a file called robots.txt on the web site which tells search engines which sections of a web site to ignore and if set to disallow: / then the whole web site will be ignored.

Copying Content

If someone can copy your content onto other lower ranked web sites then that can affect your web site’s ranking. This takes some expertise to make the copied content look original and your site the copier.

How to Stay Safe

It is difficult to prevent a negative SEO attack, but make sure your web site security is fully implemented and up to date. Then you need to keep an eye on web site statistics and take notice if there is a noticeable drop off in visitors from search engines.

If there appears to be a problem then investigate the links to your website and rom your web site and invest in software tools that can identify what’s going on e.g. Spyglass.

If you have any experience with SEO turned against your business –  do let me know, by email.

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The US Esta Scam

UK residents make around 4.9 million visits to USA each year.  The vast majority of those visits just need an ESTA to be filled in and submitted. These give the visitor 90 days of access to the USA.

Some scammers target specific things such as people who need to travel to the USA and formulate a scam to try to catch those people.

They rely on sending out huge volumes of these scam messages in order to catch enough people to make the scam worthwhile.

The message is from mailer@applymyesta.com>

This e-mail is in regards to your Travel authorization to USA. The ESTA Visa which you need to travel to The United States of America has expired and needs to be renewed.

Kindly, visit the website https://www.applymyest a.com/usa/esta/apply# to renew your visa or to put in a fresh application.

THANKS AND REGARDS, APPLICATION TEAM

It is a scam website that will steal your confidential information which then gets sold to other scammers or to identity thieves.

If you need an ESTA for a visit to the USA then find the correct government we site – never truest the links in unsolicited emails.

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