Internet - Scams and hoaxes

Internet is a fabulous arena for people who want to cheat and deceive others.
Here are a few of the most common scams.


Virus warnings!

Emails containing a warning about a new virus that is the world’s most dangerous are common. The message encourages you to spread it to all your friends and relatives to warn them too. Chances are good that this is a hoax. Google the virus and see what comes up.

The idea is to get as many people as possible to send the email and cause email servers to crash.

It is important that you do not send these types of emails. There’s no need to worry that it might be a genuine warning. Antivirus programs already have the information and will deal with it.
It takes time to spread a warning via email, so if it is a genuine warning, your antivirus program has already updated your system.
You can be 99.99% certain that this is a hoax intended to a create chain letter.

Do a Google search and see what hits you get on virus warnings.
Visit and see what information you find there. Symantec is a company that deals with antivirus solutions. This is from their site:

What is a virus hoax?

Virus hoaxes are messages, almost always sent by email, that amount to little more than chain letters. Following are some of the common phrases that are used in these hoaxes:

  • If you receive an email titled [email virus hoax name here], do not open it!
  • Delete it immediately!
  • It contains the [hoax name] virus.
  • It will delete everything on your hard drive and [extreme and improbable danger specified here].
  • This virus was announced today by [reputable organization name here].
  • Forward this warning to everyone you know!

Most virus hoax warnings do not deviate far from this pattern. If you are unsure if a virus warning is legitimate or a hoax, additional information is available at the
Symantecs Security Response online-databas.


Congratulations, you’ve won!

You receive an email or a blinking box appears when you visit a website announcing that you’re the winner of a bunch of money, or a car, or a trip...

Do not respond. They are scams. There is no lottery in which you automatically take part because you have an email address (or whatever reason they say you’ve won). They want specific details that they expect you to send them in order to collect your prize.

The same applies to emails saying you’ve inherited something from a distant relative.


We need your userid and password!

Someone claiming to be your bank or MSN administrator or whomever sends you an email. They want you to send them your login id and password so they can do something wonderful to your account. Sometimes they claim they are improving security or some such thing.


This is technique is called phishing. Read more about it on Wikipedia.

Your bank or MSN administrator or whomever has their own routines for solving system-related issues. They never need to ask for your password.


The most common ways of catching a computer virus

The most common way of infecting your computer is to look at popular PowerPoint presentations sent via email, or other entertaining files you have to open to see. Surfing erotic websites or gaming sites (like poker sites) is also very risky activity for your computer.

Make sure you antivirus software is updated and have a firewall for your computer. Avoid visiting dubious websites and never open "popular" files sent via email. This will keep your computer safe.

To read more, check out this Wikipedia page on computer virus.

This is another good page from Symantec

What is the difference between viruses, worms, and Trojans?