This Page Is About Internet Scams. There are about a billion of them, and most of them are well within the range of the law; that is, it is legal to do the deceitful and downright immoral thing which the company is doing: it's just not right. It is also cleverly thought out, with the intention of tricking you into giving up your hard earned cash in a way you did not think you would be doing.
Many of these scams masquerade as contests or ways to make money: I check them out when they turn up because I, like you, could use a little cash. So far I have not found a single one that is in any way legitimate: they all promise something, and they all have an escape clause that leaves you with less in your pocket than you came in with. --If I ever find something honest I will let you know.
Our first item on this page is a perfect example of how it works. We are all subject to the lure of chance; that one chance in a million that we might be able to win a little more than we are ever likely to earn. Never mind that definition of a State Lottery as 'taxation for people who can't do math.' Sometimes it is worth a dollar to have hope.
How much better if all we have to pay is attention to an advertisement. (Make no mistake here folks, your attention in looking at an ad is a marketable commodity; that's how the free net stuff pays for itself. It sells your attention to the advertiser.) Well and good: I am willing to look at ads in order to play Free Lotto. I am willing to believe that the company is actually giving away the money it says it is giving away.
But today I got the following e-mail:
We are conducting our Pre-Election Polls once again (and we will continue to do so every so often up until the November Election)!
We wanted to take a moment to find out how FreeLotto players feel about the upcoming Presidential Election. Please read this email carefully and click on the appropriate link below. Once you have cast your vote, you will automatically receive details about how to claim your special gift.
Here's how it works:
If the Presidential elections were held today, for whom would you vote? Please select the link next to your choice!
Thank you for taking the time to cast your vote. We will be sure to share the results with you shortly!
I dutifully selected one of the addresses, went to it, and was immediately informated that I had been credited with 3,000 points, worth $60, toward the first year of a magazine subscription of my choice. I looked through the magazines and even found a couple that looked interesting. I clicked to redeem my "special gift."
The fine print (always read the fine print!) said that they would not send me annoying billings at the end of my 'free subscription,' but rather, just bill the continued subscription to my credit card. I could cancel at any time with just a letter or e-mail.
I went through the procedure, entered all the data, but when it came time to enter the credit card I entered: "none." The computer at their end said I had made a mistake, and sent me back. I entered "I do not have a credit card." Another mistake message. And, of coure, there was no feedback button. One cannot communicate with any human beings. In short, there is no "special gift," there is only the option of them getting hold of your credit card number.
Now as it happens, I have dealt with one of the magazines in question, way back before I got on the net. It's a good magazine. But the bean counters in charge are as ripe a pack of vultures as one can encounter. When you decline to continue a subscription, or try to terminate it, they bill you some more. They Will Not take you off the list. No matter how much you demand it. And then they put you 'into collection,' which leads to threatening letters about ruining your credit.
Does this remind you of the Mob? "Hey, you don't pay what we want, we breaka you arm!"
Only THESE folks blithly ask for your credit card! Just what chance do you think you have of ever getting off their list when they can bill you at will for anything they choose to bill you for, and the burden of getting your money back (or getting control of it at all!) is shuffled off on you?
I'll tell you: zip! You could spend months and months writing letters, making phone calls, working your tail off, and they could (and WOULD, let me assure you!) just keep sucking the money out of your account and abusing you with their letters.
So, you're sitting there saying "What do you expect for nothing?"
Well, the fact is, it isn't for nothing. These folks stated that they were providing, in exchange for my work (going to their website and filling in documents which were, as stated, to provide certain things) particular services and rewards which they stated to be commensurate with the work that I did for them. And then, when I had done the work (remember, when you perform services for them your work is just as valuable as that of the guy at the other end who is also clicking a mouse) they renigged on the deal and did not provide any way for me to get what they had promised without giving them the key to my bank account.
I did the work, but they did not make good on their end of the deal. THAT is what makes it a scam. Slight of hand, where they change the nature of the game just as you have got your hand of cards and after you have made your bet.
What do I expect you to do? Simple. Punish the bastards by the simple act of ignoring them: unless you want to pay for a magazine subscription (and a rate likely higher than the one you could get through the magazine itself) and unless you are stupid enough to believe you are getting something for free when in fact you are paying and being tricked into paying, and being told that it is a "Gift."
See, its real simple to make the world better. You just don't fall for the Dumbing Down that the crooks are working so hard to instill in you. You just don't buy it.
And if you don't buy it, and they want to sell you anything, eventually they will have to revert to honesty.
Meanwhile, go ahead and play Free Lotto, with the understanding that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and that you are WORKING for those chances when you read the ads.
30 August 2000
One Final Note: There are many fine people on the net who do provide things almost for free. They let you download stuff like the above graphic and all they ask is that you credit their work and provide a link to their site. That is a pretty small payment for their work, and they make the request without resorting to doubletalk and deception. Sometimes I don't manage to do it because I forget where I get things in the heat of creativity: but I do try, and so should you.
Here are the relevent links for this page, and yes, you can click on them to get to the sites.
The Background for this page is from
The Line of Fire is from