Security Tip

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2007-02-14 Print this article Print

Dont Get Sucked In

The following is based on a true story. A friend was trying to sell a sofa online. One interested party made some unusual requests which, it seems to me, were part of some weird money-laundering scheme.

Scrubbed of some of the personal information (but not of typos), here is the key message: I will be able to Use a private shipping company for the pickup of the item Okay? The Cahsiers Check / Payment will be issued today and will be mailed out asap but I would like to include an extra money on the cashiers check.The extra money is for my son to pay for his school fees at the [removed by editor] University in Netherland but I am not holding cash right now but cashiers check.I would appreciate your effort and concern if you could cash the check and send him money via Western Union after you have deducted the funds for the sales of your item + an extra $40 for your time and effort in sending him money Okay?...Kindly send your name and address for mailing the payment Okay? Upon recieving your response,I shall have the payment sent out.

Who buys a used sofa in New Jersey and ships it to the Netherlands? In all likelihood the cashiers check is a fake. My friend went with another offer, as should you if you get an odd request like this.

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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