Photo of a PayPal Security Key being used to login (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today let’s look at the third main way to get scammed. It’s called:
Pharming is another term that is used in the internet con game world. Unlike the regular con games that are older than the hills and phishing, pharming is very sophisticated and not only takes a black heart, but also some technological skills.
Like most common internet scams, pharming starts with an email. The email is supposedly from a company that you know and trust. They send you a link for a special offer and you are directed to their “site.” Only it is not their site. It looks just like their site, but is a phony site that has been created to look like their site. Here you will enter your username and PIN number or password and fill out bogus information. It will seem fine, except you have just compromised your account. The phony site will have your information and use it accordingly. A friend one time had trouble online with this scam.
How A Friend Got Pharmed
A few years ago, my friend, Rick, was selling merchandise on eBay. He had a Paypal account and was doing pretty well with his little eBay home business. Then he got pharmed.
The scam preyed on his greed and desire to get something for nothing. He wanted very much to be a Power Seller at eBay, but he did not have enough sales to make this goal. The email he received seemed to come from eBay. It stated that he could, if he acted right away, become a Power Seller. They had a special promotion and he could earn this status.
Rick was not anywhere close to being a power seller. He had auctions that ended every few days and watched them a few times a week. He had not earned the number of sales to get this goal. But he wanted it, so he was excited to jump on the link that they provided and go to the eBay site.
Had he looked carefully, such as at the address bar, he would have seen that although where it looked just like the eBay site, it was not the eBay site, but a very clever duplicate of the site. He put in his username and his password and then filled out the request to be a Power Seller. Rick was pretty excited that he was going to be a Power Seller on eBay.
A day or so later, he went to look at his status and saw that he was not a Power Seller. He wondered and worried about this – after all, he had filled out the form. For some reason, he took a look at his auctions. None of them were close to ending, but he noticed that the address to where the money was to be sent was somewhere in Italy. This bothered him because he lives in the United States and has never been to Italy. Who wouldn’t be worried?
He called eBay and got in touch with someone there. They told him that he had been “phished” because the term “pharm” had not yet been coined. They promptly froze his account and stopped his auctions. Luckily, nothing bad happened. As none of his auctions ended, no money was exchanged and none of the customers who were bidding on his products were cheated. Had he been a real “Power Seller” he would have been in trouble. Rick had to close out his eBay account and start all over again on another account.
When he told the person at eBay what happened, they also advised him to check his Paypal account. As it happened, his Paypal account had been emptied. This was because he used the same password for his eBay account as he did for his Paypal account. There was not much money in that account (as Rick was not a Power Seller), but the little money that was in there was gone. He had to call Paypal, close the account, and fill out an affidavit. He did get his money back from Paypal.
Had he been more of a mover and shaker on eBay, he could have lost quite a bit more money, and those bidding on items would have lost money as well. He never knew that a false site could be created. He learned this lesson well and, although he gets pharming emails regularly, he has never fell prey to it again. Because now he knows the following:
Never click on a link that the site sends you. Go to the actual site.
Never use the same password for important things.
Never expect to get something for nothing.
People who are concerned about internet security need to be aware of the techniques that are used in the scams that run online. They prey on the greedy, the needy, and the easily frightened. If you get an email from any site that states something urgent, do not click on the link. Go to the site to find out what is what.
Pharming attempts for Paypal and eBay are very common. If, however, you get a pharming attempt from your bank, contact your bank and forward the email to them.
I hope this story and info has been helpful. Be careful and don’t get scammed ! Stay save.