Community As A Form

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2003-05-29 Print this article Print

Of Scam Art, Page 2">

Its worth pointing out that this site is not the same as, a discussion site for book readers.

So what would you think? Obviously youre supposed to be concerned at what whoever it was wrote about you and to go to the site to find out. At the site youll see that there are no actual reports online, but that you can contact the author of the report on you through an anonymous e-mail system on the site. Unfortunately, in order to use this system you must become a "Power User," which costs $19.97/year (or $29.97 for 2 years - "BEST VALUE").

My guess is that this is the main goal of this site: tricking people into paying for the chance of finding out what supposedly was said about them. The other point of the site is to collect e-mail addresses from these people. Of course the site already has the address without the user responding, but the people who respond get stuck in the "sucker" profile, so that list is probably quite valuable to other scammers on the net.

And according to posters on the newsgroup, if you actually contact the author you will be told that they cant seem to locate any of the reports they may have filed on you. Oops. Since its an anonymous system they can tell you whatever they want.

Finally, dont get the idea that clicking on the link at the top of the message will take your name out of the database. All it claims to do is to stop informing you that people have written reports on you.

Theres a general lesson in all this: Be skeptical. Dont believe everything you read. On the web this goes at least double. Many scams, such as web pages trying to coax your password out of you, can be unmasked with some common sense and some technical investigation, but this word-of-mouth business doesnt require any technical expertise. So be skeptical about what you read on the Internet, but dont stop being outraged at it.

Security Supersite Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

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