So Many Online Suckers, So Little Time

from the amazing dept

There really are a lot of gullible people out there. The SEC has shut down the latest online ponzi scam, which was one of these "auto-surf" deals. That's not so interesting, considering just how many such scams there are. What's both amazing and scary here is that the scam appears to have taken in over $50 million in $6 increments. Can someone please add "Skepticism 101" and "How Not To Be Gullible" to our elementary school curriculum?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Yonatron, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:11pm

    No Subject Given

    >> Can someone please add "Skepticism 101" and "How Not To Be Gullible" to our elementary school curriculum?

    If they did, the churches would complain..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Bruce, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:26pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Even though I'm fairly sure the original poster was kidding, I think this might be an excellent idea. A little critical thinking never hurt anyone.

    When you consider the amount of money lost and pain caused by a lack of such skills, it is not a wonder this class isn't taught, it is a wonder that it isn't compulsary.

    My dad used to call it "common sense". It was years before I realized that "common sense" was anything but.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Steve-o, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:45pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    The phrase "common sense" has lost its original meaning. Originally, it referred to the body of reasoning that was available to humans NOT as a result of focused training in a particular field. Something was said to be "obvious from the common sense" as opposed to "obvious from eight years of training in medical school".

    Over the years, the meaning has somehow changed into a politely impolite way of calling someone an idiot.

    I prefer "critical thinking" to "common sense" for this reason - most people who use the words do so incorrectly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:49pm

    Seriously, 1st time net surfers need to be require

    Seriously, 1st time net surfers need to be required to read through a centrally maintained document (I dunno who would host/maintain the document) explaining in *very* untechnical laymans terms (to the point that most of us on techdirt and slashdot would consider retarded) just what the usual scam involves, the obvious signs a site is scamming, the difference between organic search results and paid sponsor links, and which parts of a site is content and which part is ads...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:50pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I feel alot of people have said, "Ah heck, it's just $6. If I get something in return, GREAT!... If not, it's a skipped-trip to McD's for lunch"

    ...at least credit card theft wasn't involved in gathering these people's $$$.

    (whatever happened to those many companies who placed "$14.99" ads in the back of comic books, and never shipped the items?" - I betcha' their R$CH now...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:50pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    they're*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 7:53pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Skepticism 101: Two Classes We Wish We'd Taken
    http://www.twopercentco.com/rants/archives/popups/popup_107.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Chris, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:02pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Well, wouldn't common sense lead you to the realization that most people online just don't care, making your statement nothing more than an oxymoron?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    elaine, Feb 27th, 2006 @ 10:15pm

    money-filled brain

    I think that most people do have the common sense that they need to survive. The only problem here is how to use it. People could think clearly in most situations provided that it doesn't deal with money. Money-related situation could actually make a person go beyond their usual self up to the point of resorting to illegal dealings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Christopher, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 2:10am

    Hey

    I almost threw $6 into one of those just to see what would happen But for some reason I never did.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    JeroenW (profile), Feb 28th, 2006 @ 2:53am

    No Subject Given

    'Common sense'?"
    "Son, that phrase is self-contradictory. 'Sense' is never 'common.

    Time enough for love

    R.A.H. Heinlein

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    thecaptain, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 5:03am

    Re: No Subject Given

    If they did, the churches would complain..
    Actually, it would be more like the governement would legislate it out of existance due to intense lobbying by marketter-backed astroturf organization.
    Silly Mike...skepticism is what schools are actually working to stamp out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 7:15am

    Re: Seriously, 1st time net surfers need to be req

    Seriously, 1st time net surfers need to be required to read through a centrally maintained document (I dunno who would host/maintain the document) explaining in *very* untechnical laymans terms (to the point that most of us on techdirt and slashdot would consider retarded) just what the usual scam involves, the obvious signs a site is scamming, the difference between organic search results and paid sponsor links, and which parts of a site is content and which part is ads... Scams like this are not specific to the Internet. Before the Internet existed, these were done through word of mouth, telephone, or mass paper mailings. They sound much worse now becasue it is much easier to rope in more people, simply because they are easier to contact. You make the same mistake that most media outlets do when reporting these stories. The Internet is not to blame any more than the phone companies or the US Postal Service are. Who is to blame? The people who continue these scams, which in a lot of these cases are also the victims. Normally, I would avoid blaming the victim for the crime, but in this cas I think that stupidity warrants it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Brad L., Feb 28th, 2006 @ 7:36am

    Blakley decision - low dollar per offense fraud wi

    The Supreme Court decision of Blakley V. Washington radically restricted the notion of relevant conduct in mail and wire fraud at the federal level.
    In practice, agents used to be able to indict the small time scammers based on 5 or 6 counts in an indictment and list the other hundreds of victims losses as "relevant conduct".
    Now, indictments must either balloon to hundreds of counts (each of which would have to pe proven at trial) or a case would simply be about $6 taken from 5 or 6 victims - literally a $30 case.
    I have seen AUSA's turn down cases where 700 people were scammed out of $20 each because the logistics of potentially calling each of the 700 at trial - transportation and lodging - just isn't worth it.
    These types of low dollar / high volume scams are much harder to charge under federal law now and will really increase in prevalence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Brian, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 8:51am

    Re: No Subject Given

    This couldn't be more true!! haha!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Jeremy, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 10:27am

    suckers

    Whoever got nailed on this type of scam, should deserve to lose money.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Frank, Feb 28th, 2006 @ 1:51pm

    Re: your profile

    Did you know it is not possible to send you a message from your blog site? I can see your HOT pic but I would love to tell you what I think of your pic and what I would love to do with you, soon I hope Frank

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Wil, Mar 3rd, 2006 @ 4:38am

    Online Ponzi Scams

    Like Brad said, the internet's big contribution to ponzi scamming is the massive extension of reach. Instead of screwing 500 people out of $10,000 each, an online scam can rip off 500,000 people for $10 each. People are a lot less likely to go after somebody who ripped them off for $10.

    In this particular scam, there were a lot of people who knew it was a ponzi scam because they're serial promoters. They join one, recruit a lot of members, make a nice profit, and then bail before it falls apart. Then they move onto the next one. Another bunch of "investors" were people who were so desperate they'd try anything to make a bit of cash. And apparently this one ran through a number of congregations -- because everybody gets the best investment advice in church, right?

    The worst bit is that many of the victims still believe if the government wouldn't have interfered, they would've ended up making a fortune. It's like a freaking cult or something. Scary!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This