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(A Grantee of US State Department, US Embassy, Abuja)


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Mr. Godwin C. Nwaogwugwu is a former World Bank Analyst/Consultant. He is a senior key resource person on Information systems, E-business Development, Youth Programs, and Africa Initiatives for many international agencies, and governments. He is the author of several best-selling publications. His writings in very simple language inspire many young readers around the world


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Smart Tips to Beat Internet Scammers

 Last year a scam artist sent me a ‘second offer’ on a laptop I didn’t win on EBay. His price was far cheaper than the winning bid on EBay. I fell for the scam thinking it was an offer from a genuine Ebayer giving me a second offer. I lost about $200 to the scam. I have since become smarter on internet scams. Therefore I am offering you below some smart tips on how to beat similar scams.

 1. If a scammer sent you a second chance offer directly to your email address on an item you didn’t win on EBay:

 What to Do: Do not accept any offer outside EBay. Ensure all your communications are through EBay’s ‘Contact Seller’ form. That way, EBay keeps track of your communications with the seller.

 2. An online seller provides you with a foreign phone number to call if you have any question:

What to Do: Foreign number is a red flag. Some scammers expect you may not call the number in order not to incur any long distance charges. Therefore, adopt a policy of “If I can’t reach you, I won’t do business with you”.  Try and limit online transactions to your country of residency unless you are experienced in international business.

3. The Seller requests payment through either Western Union money transfer or Money Order.

What to Do: Do not make payment by Credit Card, Western Union or Money Order to foreign sellers. PayPal is better and a more secured option, at least for now. Anyone who does business on the Internet knows that once a scammer in a foreign country receives your Western Union money transfer, or Money Order, you absolutely have no way to get your money back. Unfortunately, some of the scammers in some foreign countries work closely with local bank staff in those countries. Do no expect any help from either the foreign bank or local officials there. All a scammer needs to receive Western Union money transfer is the code and an ID.

4. The Seller forwards a UPS’ Cash on Delivery (COD) form to you containing instructions, where you will fill in a Western Union Money Transfer Number (MTN), and shipping information. Normally, the form will instruct you to fill and submit the form and it will be sent directly to UPS’ database and not to the seller. It may further explain that a UPS staff will review the form and keep the Western Union code. A UPS staff will first inspect the item from the seller and receive it on your behalf for shipping,  and finally release the Western Union code to the seller to receive his/ her payment. The form normally will look like an official UPS online form with logos, colors, trademarks. Everything will look genuine.

What to Do: According to UPS, they hardly do COD on international shipments. Therefore, this type of online UPS form is fake, and does not originate from UPS. If you receive a similar form by email do any of the following.

 Cross-check The Web address:

Look for underscores, hyphens, extra letters, or numbers added to the web address to mimic an official website.  For instance ‘www.ups.com’ is definitely not same as   ‘www.ups1.com’.  Also ‘www.westernunion.com’ is not same as ‘www.westernunionn.com’ (notice the extra ‘n’ added to ‘union’).  If you are suspicious of the web address call the toll-free number listed on official website the scammer is trying to mimic to confirm if the forwarded web address belongs to them.

 Find Out Where The Form Is Submitting:

 Every web-based form you fill out submits the information either to a database or email address. You can check where the information is submitting as follows:

  • Right-click on the form
  • Click on ‘View Source’ (the HTLM code will appear, don’t be intimidated)
  • If you are Techie look at the form header to see where the form is submitting. If the form is submitting to one of the free email clients like hotmail, yahoo, etc, treat as suspect. A reputable company cannot use free email addresses to receive customer orders and personal information.

 If the email address belongs to a private company,  say   ‘yoyo@blabla.com’  

  • Take out the ‘yoyo@’ and replace it with ‘www’.
  • Type the web address, example ‘www.blabla.com’ on your address bar, and pull up the website.
  • Write down the IP address of the website.
  • Go to www.dnsstuff.com and type in either the web or IP address. Dnsstuff.com is a free service that will give you detailed information on where a website is hosted.
  • If the seller claims to be from say Canada and the site is hosted in say South Africa, you have reasons to probe further.

The biggest misconception is that all Internet frauds originate from Nigeria. This misinformation has prepared the minds of a lot of people to only treat online transactions from Nigeria as suspect. The reality is that internet scam artists are just everywhere, in every country. It’s an easy way to make money fast, so many people from various countries and backgrounds are attracted to it.

The guys who scammed my money were based in one of the break-away USSR republics. When I blocked my phone number and called them, one of them mistakenly picked up the phone, and greeted me in a clear soviet’s accent, then hung up the phone when I spoke. Definitely he was not African.

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Publications By This Mentor

'Preparing For Life After School' by Mr. Godwin C. Nwaogwugwu is a very popular career counseling booklet for Nigerian  youths

 

'Guide To Micro, Small, & Medium Business Development' by Mr. Godwin C. Nwaogwugwu is an award-winning publication that teaches how to prepare business plans for  Micro, Small, & Medium Enterprises

 

'Microsoft Office, A Student Hands-on Manual' by Mr. Godwin C. Nwaogwugwu is a hand-on computer training manual for African schools

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

 

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