The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Death of bin Laden spurs new ‘creative’ attempts at scams


In the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, reports abound of scams seeking to take advantage of the occasion. Where suckers are easy pickings, it seems dollars are to be had for the unscrupulous.

For example, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a statement last week warning consumers of a variety of cyber-scams. Citing information from Kaspersky Labs, an internet security firm, malicious websites and links have been proliferating on Google Images searches, the ubiquitous Facebook, and other social media sites. On Facebook and other locations, there is a supposed link to video claiming to show the death of bin Laden, complete with advisories of intensely graphic images. Notwithstanding the fact that controversy has been stirred over the total dearth of bin Laden demise images from the U.S. government, people click on the link. The video is, of course, fake, and you don’t want to know what the video actually shows. But in clicking on the link to get to the fake video, users immediately download a malicious URL into their browsers, which commonly infect computers with viruses. “Kaspersky also reports that other Facebook scams lure victims to malicious Facebook pages with promises of free airplane tickets or other ‘free’ offers to ‘celebrate Osama’s death,’” the BBB statement says.

Then there’s the perennially popular “Nigerian letter” scam, which enjoys a resurgence lately with a bin Laden twist to it. This scam is commonly written as if from a wealthy Nigerian who, obviously recognizing a worthy citizen when he sees one, has chosen you to help him transfer a huge sum of money to an American bank; all you need to do is act as his intermediary. The scammer counts on you not realizing that someone actually that wealthy could pick up a phone and get such a transfer done in minutes. The bin Laden twist is that now the Nigerian has a soldier friend who was involved in the heroic raid on bin Laden’s compound.

In other cons, people with way too much time and misdirected creativity try to get money directly by just asking for it. If you think people are too dumb to fall for such a blatantly obvious tactic, recall that for years an ad ran in The National Enquirer that simply said, “Need money, send $5.” No one knows exactly how many multiple thousands of dollars that ad made for the enterprising writer.

For some reason, scammers tend to think older people are easier to con, and that can be true, though seniors in these parts are probably sharper than your average elder. Retirees around here didn’t get to their positions in life by being stupid. Still, a word of warning doesn’t hurt, especially when it’s known that telephone scammers have tried their luck in Klickitat County in the past. Let ’em try. If we can take down bin Laden, we can surely triumph over con artists.


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