2002/12/23
 
09:54

Sometimes Christmas Isn't About Giving

One of my hobbies is keeping up to date on the latest scams. Recently, I received a spam that didn't seem to fit one of the usual patterns. I decided to check out the web site (after ensuring that I wasn't transmitting anything more traceable than my IP address) and was introduced to something called "Gifting Programs".

Unlike most sites associated with pyramid (a.k.a. Ponzi) schemes, this one went to great lengths to state that you shouldn't expect to earn anything and that it was not about making money. However, this was in a huge block of text, with an "I Agree" button on the bottom. Most people who are following up on a "Make money!" spam will simply skip all those words ("Must be lawyer stuff") and click the button.

Poking a bit deeper, I eventually found a well-hidden FAQ. Sure enough, the second question was the one that all such scams answer somewhere in their promotional material, "Is this legal?"

How many legitimate business offers bring up that question?

I eventually found a link here that provides a quick overview of the "Gifting" scam. It's still relatively new – well, I hadn't heard of it before – so you might give it a look. Note in particular the part about how this fellow's friend ended up dragging his own buddies into the scam, quite possibly with the best of intentions. I'm sure he lost a lot of friends as a result. Like all pyramid scams, this one will leave plenty of emotional wreckage in its wake. As the scam's promo site said, it's not all about the money.

Note: I have not provided a link to the scam's site because I don't want to encourage anybody to visit it. If you're a legitimate scam researcher, though, you can drop me a line.

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