The Complex World of Online Scams!
Posted on January 3, 2022
After something of a lull, Crypto companies have upped their game on me again recently. Mainly through emails but also via social media. I am guessing this may be because I have inadvertently clicked on something. Or maybe overheard talking about crypto currency by my sinister friend, Alexa. I guess I am not helping my own cause by sitting here writing a blog about it.
These emails are getting more subtle nowadays. There was a time when they would confirm they were genuine by attaching pictures of Martin Lewis (known as ‘the money man’) to them. On the emails, Lewis would claim crypto was the most incredible invention since Edison said, “let there be light”. There is a technical downside to this endorsement. Martin Lewis doesn’t endorse crypto currency.
I also used to get crypto emails endorsed by Australian comedian and actor, Paul Hogan. Back in the 1980’s, I laughed at Hogan in Fosters Lager ads (“mind if I borrow some of your bait?”). I can also remember watching ‘Crocodile Dundee’ in a Corfu bar, back in 1988. I think I laughed bit then as well but not enough to make me throw thousands of pounds at a Ponzi scheme over 30 years later.
The crypto logic works a bit like this. We don’t want banking and big corporations controlling our money anymore. We need an alternative. This alternative happens to be a complex and energy sapping software system that no one I have met, understands. It isn’t underwritten or regulated by any government. Even though we don’t know who owns these semi-dystopian crypto currencies, we are told we should trust them more than the big banks.
With that information in mind, what could go wrong? If it is good enough for someone claiming to be Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee, surely it’s good enough for the rest of us?
I mentioned earlier, a Ponzi scheme. I used to think Ponzi was another term for Pyramid schemes. There is, however, a subtle difference. Ponzi schemes offer you the chance to independently lose your money. Pyramid schemes offer you the chance to lose your money and recruit your friends, so they can lose their money as well . It’s a kind of double bonus, where you lose your money and your friends.
The Real Martin Lewis
I listened to the real Martin Lewis on Radio 5 the other week (at least I think it was the real one, who knows?). He was close to tears of rage that people had been mugged off by companies using his name. His big beef was that advertising standards authorities don’t stop these fraudsters. The water is so muddied, that it is near on impossible to define who are scammers and who are genuine. So, advertisers just take the money.
Lewis said that until something changes with standards, it is like living in The Matrix. We are not talking about someone with a poor grasp of English claiming to be representing the deceased King of Nigeria, who, it turns out, is your millionaire uncle. These fraudsters are so good, their websites often look better than the genuine ones. It is highly sophisticated stuff.
Maybe I have lost out on some fantastic crypto schemes, which, I guess, is my loss. However, I am a bit old fashioned in that I try to stick to old tried and tested philosophies. Ones like “there is no such thing as a free lunch”, or “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is”. This is pretty foolproof but it still doesn’t make you or me immune from everything.
Change of Address Scams
A couple of weeks ago, a letter from the TV License Authority instructed me to go online and change my address (I had just moved house). I typed the web address into the google address bar and it took me to an exact clone of the TV license website. It then screwed me for a fake admin fee of £16:00. I felt such a twat when I found out it was a con; it’s so humiliating.
I reported it and discovered that the TV License Authority know about the scam but can’t keep up. Google do delete them (I think) but the damage is done by then. It’s a brilliant scam as the amount of money is not outrageous and the website is perfection. The cheeky bastards even put ‘beware of fraudsters’ on it.
The scam has also operated on council tax, driving licenses, car tax and the HMRC. It’s all based on a change of address. It preys on people who have just moved house and want to quickly get their personal admin in order. What is really annoying is that they get your details to sell onto more sinister scammers. As a consolation, I can comfort myself that anyone reading this post won’t make the same schoolboy error.
Anyway, I must go. Fred Dineage can’t believe the returns he has made on his latest investment that has banks running scared. I need to get in there quick.
Happy New Year!