Some real rats lurking out in cyberspace

We might be living in a brave new world, but there are some real rats lurking out there in Cyberland.

I’m not necessarily thinking of our president and the federal government here but if the shoe phone fits …

I’m constantly amazed at all of the business, entertainment and media that can be grasped through our computers, our cell phones and our iPads. I did a grant an interview via Skype video recently and I bought an element for my oven and a flap for my dog door, neither of which could be found in town.

I also took the bait on an online offer of a used car this week. Fortunately I didn’t allow myself to be completely reeled in by this phishing scam. That’s what they call it when someone sets traps to steal personal information, phishing (pronounced phishing).

The offer sounded great, an immaculate used vehicle for about a third the price it should have been. It was even the right color and had all the right equipment. I answered the Craigslist classified with an email. The reply came quickly that, yes, the car was still available because a buyer that had been lined up couldn’t get a loan. She needed to sell it quickly because a divorce was really putting the squeeze on the seller’s finances. Send my name address and phone and she would set up payment through eBay, where she had a contract, and would ship the car immediately. I could decide after the car arrived if I liked it.

I was psyched but why wouldn’t this person just pick up the phone and call me. I logged on to Craigslist again to look the ad over one more time but stopped briefly to read the intro page to the motors section of the website. There was an applicable item on the right, “How to recognize a vehicle scam on CL.”

As I read through the list of caveats I began to recognize my ad.

1. Almost 100 percent of sellers offering to ship a vehicle are scams.

2. Using an intermediary for payment like eBay Motors is nearly always fraud.

3. Price is unusually low. If the deal’s too good to be true it probably is.

4. Watch out for the old divorcee ruse.

Well that one finally hit me right between the eyes.

I answered “Karen’s” last email with an offer to set the deal up myself through eBay since I had an account myself. All she needed to do is send me her information. I even told her my police detective niece advised it would be safe to do the deal that way. I’m still waiting for reply.

Seriously folks, there are some mean people in this world that will tell you exactly what you want to hear if they think they can blind you or baffle you long enough to grab your personal information. Just this past week police were alerted to a scam being perpetrated by posing as a local utility.

Stay on your toes, you have more to worry about than the federal government looking over your shoulder.

Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at:

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