Sadly, the Internet provides a vehicle for infinite ways to prey on those day-brighteners. People who always see the best in others. Who always believe the sun will come out tomorrow. If you’re one of those, I’m going to drop some precipitation on your parade.
Often, no harm will come to you if you believe a scammer. Well, unless you count snickering from your friends and family. But some tricksters draw you in and then they go after your money or information.
- I saw the most heartwarming/scary/simply AMAZING video clip!
Some are true, but many are staged. Did you ever wonder how someone just happened to be there with a camera to capture it? (Especially if it’s shot inside a car?) Harmless, unless you’re invited to contribute to some “cause.” Clicking or sharing can place you on a targeted list for other scams.
- Statistics show that my new blog/music video/website has views from all over the world!
Most likely spiders, bots, and web crawlers used for indexing. Or cybercriminals after your identity or credit card information. Your web stats just record total hits, not necessarily instant worldwide fame. Do you honestly think Russia and Eastern Europe constitute your fan base?
- Congratulations! You’ve been named one of the Top Hundred Excellent [fill in the profession] in your state!
For $19.95, you can purchase a plaque with your name on it, and for $39.95 you can buy a book listing the Top Hundreds for every state in the country. Buy one for each of your children! Who nominated you? What is the “organization” conferring this honor?
If you point out that the emperor has no clothes, you risk being perceived as negative and pessimistic. But if you have any sort of Internet presence that tracks comments, you know how much spam and other deceptive communication is out there.
Most (spam) comments I receive involve cheap knock-off sunglasses, fake designer handbags, and SEO services. The subject line is eye-catching, but the message is gibberish. Some are unintentionally, but genuinely, hilarious. The goal is simply to get you to open the message.
So enjoy your parade, but take an umbrella. And remember that this message, like many others I deleted, appeared in the stats for this blog:
This system helps cat owners understand their cats better by discussing reasons why cats urinate outside their litter box.
I don’t even have a cat.
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ Dear readers ∗∗∗∗∗∗∗
The spirit of this blog is now captured in a book: From the Errors of Others, available online at these links:
Richard Nordquist, Grammar and Composition expert for About.com, says:
“From the Errors of Others is a refreshing alternative to those heavy handbooks we never opened in school…. Imagine that: a smart book about writing and speaking effectively that people will actually enjoy reading.”