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Some advice always holds true: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

On spam, scams and sealing wax

Posted: Friday, August 15, 2003

Welcome to life in the 21st century, where once-familiar terms take on different meanings.

For most of the 20th century, Spam was a trademarked canned meat product. It still is, but today as we go full bore into the 21st century, "spam" has come to mean something entirely different. We've all experienced it. We check our e-mail hoping to find messages from our friends and family; instead, we are bombarded with such subjects as:

Gain ________ inches!

Increase the size of your _________ !

You blocked my IM address!

See ______ naked!

There are ways to eliminate or at least decrease spam. E-mail programs can be set up with filters to at least set such junk mail aside for easier deletion.

The few that slip through can be taken care of by humming the William Tell overture using new words:

Delete delete delete delete

Delete delete delete delete

Delete delete delete delete

Delete! Delete delete!

Ahhhh, that's better.

Another method I use is to set up a separate SPAMSRUS@anyfreemail.com type account. Then, whenever I am signing up for some service or another that requires an e-mail address, I use that one. That way, when the spam starts (and it always does) it can come to that mailbox. A couple of times a week I go in and delete all of the junk e-mails.

There is one other method that is a sure bet to eliminate spam: Don't give out your e-mail address to anyone. Of course, that kind of defeats the purpose of having an e-mail account, now doesn't it?

Scams: These often come to you by way of spam, but they sometimes come by phone. A good friend it is always someone you consider a good friend calls to tell you about the latest and greatest method of getting money. "It's not a scam" is the surest phrase you'll hear that tells you exactly the opposite.

I received just such a call recently. A friend now lives in another state and she thought of me when she was offered this great opportunity. There are four levels earth, sky, moon and star. She's a star she can't invite me but she'll call me with a friend who can invite me. My friend has been gifted with X amount of money. It's a gift you know it is and sign a paper that tells you so. It can't be taxed because it "already has been taxed."

Are the hairs standing up on your neck? They did on mine. I had never heard of the Women's Gifting Circle before my friend's phone call. Whenever I am faced with something I don't know much about, I use my favorite Internet tool I "Google" it.

After entering those three words (women's gifting circle), I was bombarded with site after site after site all telling me what I already knew. It's a scam. You'll lose money. Run, don't walk, in the other direction.

I found myself faced with the task of telling my friend that I couldn't take advantage of an offer that someone is using to take advantage of her. I wanted to do it without hurting, without offending, without damaging a friendship. Only time will tell if I succeeded in that goal.

This all brings us to the sealing wax. They don't use that in the court system anymore. Attorneys and judges and notaries all use crimping tools these days. Nevertheless, the result is pretty much the same. Spam could, and scams most often do, end up in the legal system. That is often a good thing for the victim and a bad thing for the perpetrator.

Why write this? Well, it's a way of getting my thoughts together on what I need to do. I hope it also will serve as a warning or aid to you should you be approached by a friend with the same type of offer. You are your best first line of defense. The police are not equipped to handle scam complaints (yes, I checked). Their advice is simply to hang up.

Spam, scams, sealing wax aside from alliteration there, in the end it all boils down to one thing greed. Remember my mother's (and probably your mother's as well) adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably most often is.

Barbara Waters has lived in Kenai for nearly 25 years. She earns her living the old-fashioned way, by working 9 to 5. A good friendship rule of thumb is that good friends don't let their friends become victims of scams and Google rules! She further suggests staying away from spam that doesn't come in a can, run the other way from scams, and remember, a wad of sealing wax can tire your jaw if chewed like gum, but it's better there than on court documents.



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