Cyber Crooks Go “Phishing”

“Phishing,” the latest craze among online evil-doers, has nothing to do with sitting at the end of a dock on a sunny afternoon dangling a worm to entice hungry catfish.

But, if you take their bait, this new breed of online con artist will hook you, reel you in, and take you for every dollar you have… or worse.

“Phishing” describes a combination of techniques used by cyber crooks to bait people into giving up sensitive personal data such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank account numbers, dates of birth and more.

Their techniques work so well that, according to FraudWatchInternational.com [http://FraudWatchInternational.com], “phishing” rates as the fastest growing scam on the Internet.

Here’s the basic pattern for a “phishing” scam…

You receive a very official email that appears to originate from a legitimate source, such as a bank, eBay, PayPal, a major retailer, or some other well known entity.

In the email it tells you that something bad is about to happen unless you act quickly.

Typically it tells you that your account is about to get closed, that someone appears to have stolen your identity, or even that someone opened a fraudulent account using your name.

In order to help straighten everything out, you need to click a link in the email and provide some basic account information so they can verify your identity and then give you additional details so you can help get everything cleared up.

Once you give up your information… it’s all over but the crying!

After getting your information, these cyber-bandits can empty your bank accounts, deplete your PayPal accounts, run up your credit card balances, open new credit accounts, assume your identity and much worse.

An especially disturbing new variation of this scam specifically targets online business owners and affiliate marketers.

In this con, the scammer’s email informs you that they’ve just sent $1,219.43 (or a similar big but believable amount) in affiliate commissions to you via PayPal.

They need you to log into your PayPal account to verify receipt of the money and then email them back to confirm you got it.

Since you’re so excited at the possibility of an unexpected pay day, you click the link to go to PayPal, log in, and BANG! They have your PayPal login information and can empty your account.

This new “phishing” style scam works extremely well for 2 basic reasons.

First, by exploiting your sense of urgency created by fear or greed, crooks get you to click the link and give them your information without thinking.

Second, the scammers use a variety of cloaking and spoofing techniques to make their emails and websites appear totally legitimate, making it extremely hard to spot a fake website, especially when they’ve first whipped you into an emotional frenzy.

The good news, however, is that you can protect yourself relatively easily against this type of cyber-crime with basic software and common sense.

Most of these scams get delivered to you via Spam (unsolicited email), so a good spam blocker will cut down on many of them even making it to your inbox.

If you receive an email that looks legitimate and you want to respond, Stop – Wait – Think!

Verify all phone numbers with a physical phone book or online phone directory like w

Look for spelling and grammatical errors that make it look like someone who doesn’t speak English or your native language very well wrote it.

Never click the link provided in the email, but go directly to the website by typing in the main address of the site yourself (paypall).

Forward the email to the main email address of the website or call the customer service number on the main website you typed in yourself and ask if it is in fact legitimate.

Above all remember this:

Your bank, credit card company, PayPal, eBay and anyone else you deal with online already knows your account number, username, password or any other account specific information.

They don’t need to email you for ANY reason to ask you to confirm your information — so NEVER respond to email requests for your account or personal details.

How To Spot an Online Dating Fraudster (Catfish)

I must admit I hadn’t heard of the term Online Dating ‘Catfish’ until I started to research modern methods of dating to offer women advice on the new rules of 21st century dating and relationships.

If you’ve never heard of a Catfish either then let me put you in the picture… and this is VERY important if you’re searching for love through online dating sites, or considering joining one.

Now, I don’t want to scare the living daylights out of you but I think it’s my duty as an educator and a coach to make you aware of these rotten, dishonest fraudsters so you can be on the look out. Forewarned is forearmed, right?

The majority of these predators are based in Africa, mainly in Nigeria and Ghana. But when they create profiles on online dating sites and social media sites they look like white Western-looking guys just looking for love.

They often go hunting around the Net and steal other people’s photos from their social media sites and invent a great profile and story that pulls their victims in.

They are VERY CLEVER and know the power of the emotional energy people put into online dating – sadly sometimes the rational part of the users brain is somehow overruled by the need to be loved, and this is where the vulnerability takes place.

Here are a few tips to help you spot the Catfish right away

Their photo seems too good to be true – almost like a model. Let’s face it, if they were that good looking would they need to be looking for love online?

One very clever way to catch them out is to do a search on the website TinEye to check and see if the photo has been uploaded somewhere else online. If the photo shows up in other places then they are not genuine

No photos on their profile – on some of the online dating sites you can’t register until you upload a photo – but on some you can. No photo usually means they have something so hide, so be warned.

They have a perfect life as a pilot, brain surgeon or industrialist – again use your common sense – would they be looking for love online? Maybe, but just be on your guard until you know more about them.

False social media accounts with very few friends or followers. Catfish are being very clever and set up false social media accounts so you think you’re actually checking out a genuine person – but the whole thing is a SCAM, especially if they have very few friends on Facebook.

Be especially wary if they try to get you off the dating site to communicate with you by email or phone.

Most of these fraudsters will invent a hard luck story to pull at your heart strings for example, a relative needs urgent medical treatment, or they’ve had a car accident – then they ask you to give them money to help them out.

Asking you for money – you should NEVER part with any money and if you have any suspicions then contact the National Crime Agency or the equivalent authority in your part of the world.

Don’t be drawn into their hard luck stories – they are playing on your emotional state of mind. Also pay attention if they never use your name and also call you ‘Darling’ or ‘Baby’, this is a sure sign they are also contacting other women with the same story.

By always addressing you by a pet name they’re making sure they don’t get mixed up, calling you by the wrong name could alert you something was amiss.

They are especially good at targeting the very vulnerable by looking for clues in their online dating profiles. Are you coming across as too desperate in your profile? Unfortunately, some women tend to pour out their heart felt pleas when looking for their soul-mate online.

You just have to take a look at some of your friends Facebook updates to get what I mean, right?If you think you’re coming across as a bit vulnerable then ask a friend to take a look at your online dating profile and make sure you are not sending out the wrong messages.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this rather long article, I don’t want to worry you unnecessary about online dating and I do want you to have fun… but just look out for these ‘red flags’ of the Catfish and enjoy the adventure!

Is Your Cougar Net Empty? How to Write a Winning Online Profile

One of the problems of trying to connect with people online is getting their attention. There is a lot of competition out there and Cougars are selective. They know what they want, which also means they know what they don’t want. If older men are no longer inspiring, then don’t fall in their footsteps. Cougars are looking for fun, excitement and someone who reflects that in his profile will get responses.

When I read the profiles here and on other dating sites, I start feeling like I am watching repetitive scenes from the movie Ground Hog Day; you know…the one with Bill Murray where every morning when he wakes up the day is exactly like the day before.

Every profile starts to look and sound the same. They all blur into each other. I read. I click to the next. I read. I click to the next. If there is nothing in the very first line that grabs me, I click DELETE and go to the next.

Did you read what I just said? IF THERE IS NOTHING IN THE VERY FIRST LINE THAT GETS A WOMAN’S ATTENTION, SHE WILL CLICK DELETE.

People are busy. We only have so much time to do so many things in any given day. If you are not having any luck getting responses from your online profile, then take some helpful tips and do a profile makeover. What have you got to lose? Oh, yeah… another lonely Saturday night…

Here we go:

1) Read a ton of profiles for both men and women.
Notice which ones grab your attention and why. Make some notes. Take a close look at the very first line. That is your “signature” line that tells people why they should bother to read the rest of your profile. When you read women’s profiles, you start to understand what they are looking for and what kind of language they speak.

2) Do not put yourself down.
Don’t say,”Well, I’m just me,” or “Wow. I never know what to write on these things,” or “Ask me if you want to know more.” It makes you look wishy washy, lame and like you have a lot of insecurity issues. It also makes you look like you don’t know who you are. If you don’t know who you are, why should anyone be interested? If you are online, you are already in a public venue. So don’t hide who you are and then expect someone to “recognize” how special you are by some magical telepathy and hit you up to know more.

Instead, write something that plays to a personal strength you have. “Dashing young dude with a penchant for sweeping you off your feet and onto the dance floor seeks fun loving, leading lady to star in everlasting relationship.”

Get my drift? Sparkle! Shine! Excite us! Give us the ‘wow’ factor!

3) Don’t make cliche’ statements.
Don’t start your profile with “I am…” statements. “I am beautiful, sexy, compassionate, honest, intelligent…” yeah, yeah…everybody says that. Did you ever read a profile that said, “I’m a loser, drug addict, unemployed bum sleeping on my mother’s sofa?”

Tell us something about you that makes you different from everyone else. “One of my passions is animal rescue and this summer our group is hosting the Basset Hound Olympics to raise money for their veterinary care.” Gee, doesn’t that tell someone how compassionate you are and how you like doing charity work? Be specific. Actions speak louder than words.

Avoid “I like to work hard and play hard,” or “I am as comfortable in a dress as I am in jeans and a T-shirt.” How many times do you see those statements? “I enjoy fine dining.” (Who doesn’t?) “I am independent.” (And that means…?) and for God’s sake aren’t we all sick of “I like to take long walks on the beach” and that nauseating term,”with that special someone.” (Pardon me while I skeeve.)

4) Be compelling
Take a stand. State an opinion. This way you will look defined as a person to someone and will attract people who share your same views and interests. “My idea of a great first date is microwaving crayons into shapes of famous historical figures and then discussing socialism over a fine glass of port,” is more definitive than “I like to do silly things and discuss events of the day.”

People like to meet people who know who they are. It shows you have something to bring to the table and that you can hold up your end of the date or relationship.

5) Post a good, clear picture of yourself.
Smile. Don’t post a serious shot because you think it makes you look cool. It makes us wonder if you just got out of prison. Don’t wear sunglasses. Don’t try to look or act cool. Look friendly, happy, approachable and fun! Don’t flash gang signs or peace signs or flip the bird. Leave your penis in your pants. We’ve seen them before and they ain’t all that and a bag of chips.

Put up several photos, especially of you doing fun things that we might enjoy doing with you. Do not put up a pic with you and your ex. Do not put up a pic with you and half of your ex cut out of the pic. Ladies, believe it or not, not every man likes to see us with our dogs. *sigh* So include a pic of you and Bonster, but put some other pics in as well. If a guy is not a pet owner or loves his 23 cats, he will probably pass on you and fido.

6) Your screen name says a lot about who you are and what you are looking for.
If your screen name is “Young and Hung” or “Licking My Eyebrows” we know you are looking for booty calls and not a serious contender for anything beyond a one night stand and you probably expect us to drive to you and pick up a pizza on the way over. We also know you probably have a different girl every night, a few diseases brewing and an axe in the hall closet. DELETE.

7) Be sincere and be honest in who you are and what you are looking for.
Be honest about your age, weight, height. Don’t post pictures more than a year old or with brown hair if you have just dyed it tomato red. When people see your picture and arrange to meet you they are expecting to meet who they see in the picture. Anything else is deceptive and disappointing. Don’t post a group photo. We can’t tell who you are and we are not interested in meeting the group. We are interested in meeting you.

Don’t say you are looking for a long term relationship if you are really seeking friends with benefits. One reason I have so many options to choose on profiles is so people can really connect with people who are looking for the same things. If you are married, separated, divorced and a bit fragile and just want to test the waters then say so. “I just got out of a long term situation and just want to meet new people for fun and conversation and see how it goes for a while before I start to think about anything serious again.” People appreciate honesty and transparency. It shows that you respect them and it also shows you have a level of integrity about yourself.

8) Tell us who you are.
If you want to capture someone’s attention, you need to put something on the hook before you cast your line. No fish on earth will bite a clean hook. Few people will respond to a profile that has nothing or very little on it. Why should they when the next one they click on has lots of info on it that they can read and connect with?

Talk about your hobbies and interests and convey your enthusiasm: “I like to skydive” is informative, but, “There is nothing like nude skydiving to really get the adrenalin flowing. There is just something so thrilling about plummeting down to earth at 100 miles an hour while grandma is tracking me with her telescope that is spiritually transcending,” really gives us a clear picture of your passion about it.

9) Tell us what you do professionally.
Why is this important? Because it helps us visualize you on the job doing what you do during the day and it helps us to connect with that image and with you. It further defines who you are and helps us figure out if we want to connect with you. If you are a butcher and the woman reading your profile is a member of PETA and a staunch vegetarian then why waste time emailing and chatting and then meeting if she knows in her heart of hearts that this will never work?

You can say, “I am a student” or you can say,”I am in my third year of college studying marine biology. You haven’t seen anything in life until you watch two starfish mating. It is the most life affirming thing on earth. When I finish school, my goal is to have a catfish farm in a small southern Delta town and export catfish to Dubai.”

Wow. I am so there…

10) Be open. Be friendly. Be approachable. Be fun.
Be someone that someone else would like to get to know better. And express who you are through writing. Profiles are written. Not every one is a good writer, but this is the medium that you are selling yourself in. It is a visual medium. If you don’t write well but can express yourself through speaking, then upload a 60 second video on yourself telling everyone who you are and what you are looking for. Keep the video short. Famed Canadian award winning film director Mack Sennet said never have a gag over 90 seconds. The audience loses interest.

Be respectful. Think about what you write before you write it. “I like women with big asses,” is not in any way flattering to any woman, even if she has a big ass. Don’t be crude. Crude is gross. Crude skeeves women.

A well thought out and prepared profile with good photos will get you noticed. If it is obvious that you spent no time on your profile, then whoever sees it assumes you are just a player and not seriously looking to meet anyone and will click off. If you take no time to fill out your profile, then why should anyone take time to respond? No one wants to respond to a void or a profile that says,”I’ll tell you later.” That’s like saying,”I have a secret and if I think you are worthy enough I will share it with you.” (Skeeving again.) NEXT.

Write complete sentences. If your language skills are not so good, then ask someone to help you express yourself in writing. If you can’t communicate who you are and what you are looking for then you won’t interest anyone.

You have to remember that there are millions of profiles on many dating sites. You are in competition with all the other profiles online. You have to see yourself as a product and wage an advertising campaign in order to get results. If you had to make a commercial for yourself and had to produce a 60 second spot, what would you say? What would your lead line be? You need an attention grabbing beginning, a well thought out, informative and exciting middle and a “close” to end.

The goal is to get responses. When you get responses then you can decide who you want to continue communicating with.

The bottom line is: If you are NOT getting responses online, it’s because your profile sucks. Even a profile with no picture will get a response if it is well written and compels someone to want to know more. Your profile is your calling card. It is your advertisement. It is your presentation of yourself to the online community. If it says nothing, offers nothing, then it will get nothing. And nothing is exactly what you can expect.