Category: Warning

Twitter Pay for Followers

On Twitter, there are lots of profiles that advertise they will get you thousands of extra Twitter followers for a fee.

There are also such ads on spam mail, websites etc.

This is quite legal of course, although disliked by Twitter.

e.g. CheapFollowersLikes.org – offers several packages including 100 Twitter followers for $15 or 2,500 followers for $50.

There are numerous other such people making similar offers.

It may seem a good idea to get more followers the quick way – more people will see your blog or website, may attract even more followers and if you’re selling something then you need to get followers.

BUT, people who find your Twitter feed, like it for whatever reason and decide to follow you are the people you need and are likely candidates to work with you, buy from you etc.

However, if you buy followers, then these are very likely to be

  1. Robot accounts i.e. no real person
  2. Fake accounts setup simply to get paid for following
  3. Entirely useless to you as there isn’t a person there interested in you
  4. A problem for Twitter who may regard you as a spammer or criminal causing this problem

Get More Followers

If you want more followers, then the obvious starting point is to create more and better content that people will want to see and tell their friends about.

Twitter adverts –Twitter shows your selected posts to more people.  These people may, if your content is appealing, choose to follow you and you only pay Twitter for each new follower. No money wasted.

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

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What is Pharming?

Pharming combines the words “phishing” and “farming” to indicate large scale phishing attempts.

Phishing is online fraud where a scammer tries to trick you into giving them your personal information e.g. login and password, bank details etc. The scammer does this by pretending to be someone you would trust – e.g. a government department or a high street brand or BT or British gas etc.

The scammer gets you to click a link, believing it is to a reputable organisation but it is the scammer’s website and will steal your confidential information.

Pharming is the large scale version of this and involves either downloading malicious code to your computer which then redirects your browser to the scammer’s website, unbeknownst to you. Or it can involve changes to your Internet router that again automatically redirect your browser without your knowledge.

The Panix Attack

On 15th January 2005, the domain name for a large New York ISP, Panix, was hijacked and redirected to a website in Australia. The domain was restored two days later and ICANN’s review blames Melbourne IT. It appears they received a  DNS change request and did not did not get express authorisation from the registrant in accordance with ICANN’s Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy.

Protection Against Pharming

Make sure you have strong passwords in place, anti-virus and anti-malware installed and staff are trained to avoid suspicious websites, links in emails, not to open unexpected attached files etc.

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How to Check a Financial Web Site is Genuine

Imagine you want to find the best place for your savings or the best place to invest a windfall or the best pension scheme available, for example.

You might go to a professional financial advisor or to your bank or other finance organisation you know.

But if you don’t have the money for an advisor then it might be a case of asking friends and relatives for their opinions or just using a search engine.

However, when you get to searching online, there is a huge number of finance organisations online and many criminals create fake websites that sometimes look exactly like the ones for genuine businesses.

Q. How do you tell which websites are genuine and which are fake?

The starting point is to ignore unsolicited emails, text messages, calls etc. – these are very likely to be fake and should be ignored.

Things to Look For

  1. Check the message and website looking for mistakes
    • Correct URL e.g. Barclays Bank rather than Baclays Bank
    • Use of broken English
    • Simple spelling mistakes or serious grammatical errors
    • The content on the website doesn’t make sense
    • Pictures, diagrams etc. that fit in with the rest of the site and haven’t just been added at random to fill space.

2. Open the Google Transparency Report webpage.

https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search?hl=en_GB

Click the “Search by URL” field in the middle of the page and type in the Internet address for the website you want to check. Google will tell you if it can find anything dodgy about the website.

  1. Check the company on the Companies House website at https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company
  2. Check for reviews online about the business and check anti-scam websites

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CLC World Free Holidays

We all remember the Timeshare explosion in the 70s with millions of phone calls, endless adverts and more to entice you into signing up for a Timeshare i.e. to buy a share of a holiday home, typically for one or two weeks per year.

The idea being that only paying for a couple of weeks must be a lot cheaper than buying your own holiday home and maybe cheaper than hotels and villas etc.

But, for whatever reason, Timeshare sellers went for the hard sell but combined it with getting people into a situation where they found it difficult to say no. They often gave people a free evening somewhere nice or even free holidays in sunshine resorts. However, the pressure to buy was relentless and many people ended up buying a timeshare just to stop the salesmen bothering them.

That all came to an end as the publicity over high pressure selling and the ability for people to cancel within 14 days according to law made it less profitable for the sellers.

But they didn’t go away completely and CLC (Club la Costa) are sending out mass emails and making phone calls to tell people they have won a free holiday. This is the Timeshare scam.

To claim your free holiday, you and your partner must agree to attend a 90 minute presentation (probably 2 hours or longer) at a CLC World Travel Centre in the UK.

You pay a £90 deposit up front to guarantee your attendance (which will be refunded when you have attended the full session). After attending, they offer you a free week of accommodation at one of their holiday sites, sometimes plus a voucher for Marks & Spencer or other high street chain, for about £50.

At the presentation they may offer a one to three year ‘trial’ but with destinations and dates. If you do commit to a long term membership, you’re likely to find that school holiday dates will have to be booked years in advance and the holidays you want simply aren’t available to be booked. Many people admit they felt bullied into signing up and then immediately cancel when they get home.

Is It a Free Holiday?

Yes. But you have to pay for your own flights, food, insurance etc. You will have to be very flexible – you may not get to travel on the dates, to the location or from the airport that is convenient for you.

During your free week’s holiday you must attend a resort tour and presentation (if you don’t, you will be charged for the accommodation. The presentation is again high pressure and they want everyone to sign up.

There are reviews of dealing with CLC and going on their ‘free’ holidays’ available on Money Saving Expert and TripAdvisor.

e.g. 1 I went on a CLC trip to Tenerife. Had to pay own flights and transfers. We had to go to the presentation for about 6 hours and it was very boring and wasted a day of the holiday. Other than that we got a nice apartment and weren’t given any hassle. If you can get cheap flights and don’t mind one very boring day then it’s ok for a cheap holiday.

e.g.2 If you’ve signed, got a few thousand on credit to pay, you go home. You then read every thing and find they never told you that you also pay £400 a year for fees.

Maybe a Timeshare suits you so why not take advantage of the free taster holiday. But for most people it’s too restrictive and too expensive when all costs are added up.

Plus, although they promise you that selling a Timeshare is easy – hundreds of thousands of people have found that it’s virtually impossible to do and that makes the Timeshare worthless.

If you have any experiences with Timeshare sellers – do let me know, by email.

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Increase in Scam Activity

All categories of scams have been increasing recently.

This may be due to better reporting but is also likely to be caused by increased scammer activity.

Category of Scam

2019 (first half)

% Increase

Impersonation £35 M 6%
Fake Bills £ 21 M 45%
Investments £43 M 108%
Invoices £56 m 7%
Fake Purchases £28 M 43%
Advance Fees £8 M 38%
Cheque Fraud £29 M 789%
Romance Scams £8 M 50%
Mobile Banking Fraud £5 M 33%
Telephone Banking Fraud £12 M 2%

 

Statistics are from UK Finance for the first half of 2019 compared to first hale of 2018.

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

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The Price of Fake Reviews

Getting good online reviews can be critical for product and service sellers and there are various ways to get these that are legal and acceptable.

But there are also the unacceptable and sometimes illegal methods.

A recent spam email describes a “top quality” service and prices start at $49 for a set of reviews.

Not just any old reviews, but reviews that are guaranteed to be –

  • 5 stars
  • Posted from local IP addresses
  • With 100% discretion
  • Posted from verified accounts
  • Sporadically posted to avoid auto detection

Can she provide this service?

That’s unknown but certainly there are people who can do and find their clients amongst the unscrupulous, desperate for good reviews that they haven’t earned.

When reading reviews online, do take the time to consider whether what you’re reading is from someone who has used the actual product or service or could they be talking about anything at all.

“Excellent service”. “Loved the quality of the product”. “Best value ever”. “Most delicious meal I’ve ever eaten”.

These are meaningless general comments as they don’t show the reviewer has actually used the product or service.

Do not ever pay for reviews and consider many reviews before making any decision to buy.

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