Internet Scams and how to recognise them: Part 1 - Investment Scams

Internet Scams are stealing more money from people than practically any other crime in the world today.  You may think that scams work on only ignorant or UN-eductated people - you are wrong and you could be the target of the next sophisticated internet scam.  Very clever and astute people have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to sophisticated international criminals and most are too ashamed to admit it.  Quite often there is nothing that can be done to recover the money - its gone.  I have known people whose life has been destroyed by these criminals and it angers me so that the internet today allows for this kind of activity to go on.  These are some of the scams I know of and how to identify them.

INVESTMENT COLD CALLING SCAMS:

These people call and introduce themselves as overseas brokers with a great deal on offer.  They are very clever in how they present the information and it is done over a series of phone calls.  From the tiny snippets of information they profile your social media information and find out more about you.  They rarely have foreign accents infact and are usually very articulate and know the investment market well.  Over time they win trust by showing you their fancy website, present registered company information and even provide phone numbers for references.  They talk about meeting you face to face and try to befriend you.  Don't be fooled... these people are the lowest of the low and have no interest other than to steal your money.  If you were laying dead in the gutter they would take your money and leave you to die.

HOW TO IDENTIFY THE SCAM

THE PHONE CALL:  Scammers will call using an IP phone or a Skype account.  You will know because the call will often be delayed and the caller number will not show on your phone.  Ask for a call back number.  Again it will not be a cell phone number it will be a VoIP phone.    Quite often the calls have background noises which sound like a busy office environment.  If you listen for a while you will notice the same sounds playing over and over.  Try tracing the phone number through google - type in "who is calling me from Phone xxxxxxxxx" and it will identify the country and a bit of background information about the phone number

COMPANY WEBSITE - Quite often it will be hosted on a cheap ISP such as godaddy or host-gator.  Think about it... why would any reputable business place their trust in such an economy based provider? These providers will continue hosting scam sites even after they have been reported and identified as scam sites.  EG look at www.capitalallianceinternational.com or www.josephwang.com .  Both of these are reported scam sites.  Look at the contact numbers listed on the site.  Quite often the same numbers are used for all the employees.  Try and locate the building address using GOOGLE MAPS.  Find a phone number for the building and talk to the building manager. You can be sure their office does not exist at the address provided.

THE TACTIC - The initial calls will offer a low priced deal to start with.  This deal will often be an investment offered in the order of a few thousand dollars.  This account will usually be a Chinese based bank account.  If you ask about using pay pal for the transfer they will either refuse because they are concerned about the papal money retrieval system.    

After a couple of months, they will report back that your investment has grown to incredible proportions and offer you a new opportunity.  If you try to retrieve your money the scam will end there.  If you take the bait, quite often they will pass you onto their senior broker who will present you with this new exclusive deal.  They will try to extract the money from you by a certain deadline - otherwise the opportunity will be missed. 

Once they have your money, they will issue you fake certificates that look authentic.  They will still contact you for a period of time until the money is gone - the scam is complete. 

I hope the above helps to protect at least one person from having their money scammed.  I have known many people who have been tricked by these people and some are highly educated business owners.  I hope that one day the the internet makes it impossible for these scams to operate on such a scale.  Until then beware...   Please keep keep a look out for our next series on internet scams.... 

Building Your FIRST Website - Traps And Pitfalls

This is a guide that will help you or your company make informed decisions about the the different options available to you when designing your company site.  If you follow my guide you will have contemplated all the necessary steps to create a quality site.

1) Take time to detail your business and clearly identify what your major selling point is and your target market. If you don't have a company policy, its best to think about this and make one. Identify a range of corporate colors that you prefer - usually your logo or your feature product determines the colors you will use.

2) Document your business into logical separate contiguous blocks of information pages and assign headings to them.  Try to make the headings descriptive and encompassing.  At this stage you need to think "what would a person type in a search engine order to find this information". 

3) Again think about the colors and the images you will need to represent your company.  The images need to be selected so that they are attractive to your customer and represent your company properly.   I usually recommend people DO NOT use photos of themselves, rather use professional stock images which are edited and tailored specifically for your company.  If you cant edit the images yourself, get a professional graphics editor to perform the job for you.  The colors in the photo should match the site.

4) Pick a domain name for your company! Some search engine advantage can be harnessed by choosing the right domain name for your website.  It might not be your company name!  for example if you were selling mousetraps in the frankston area and your company name was quiktrap do you think people looking for mousetraps would type that name?  Oh no... Most likely they would type buy mousetraps Frankston.  So having a domain name like www.frankstonmousetraps.com.au would be advantageous.  Your capturing the demographic along with the items you sell.  Of course you should do some keyword analysis at this stage as well but that's another subject altogether

5) Pick a QUALITY web-host. You need a business quality web-host - stay away from cheap hosting.  Cheap hosting is usually very bad for many reasons.  A quality web host will provide backups, provide a guarantee of up time, provide support when you have issues and help protect you from viruses.  They also wont wipe your account without a moments notice.  An extra 10 dollars per month can make a huge difference to the service offered.  The reasons are too numerous to mention but you should be prepared to spend depending on what your site is offering.  Target VALUE hosting, not CHEAP hosting.

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