Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in the dictionary?
That is a shame, because it seems that the Internet community is filled
with people who seem to take everything at face value without question.
A good example of this surfaced on TV this morning when a Palmerston North
woman appeared on TV1's Breakfast programme and was interviewed about her
It seems the woman, Ruth Harris, has been awarded a prize by
The International Society of Poets and has been invited to Washington
to collect it.
Unfortunately, Ms Harris really ought to have done a quick
search on Google
to check out the bona fides of this wonderful award.
The consensus is that this is little more than a scam which is carefully
crafted to play on the pride of those individuals who are unwitting enough
to fall for it.
will give you some insight into the operation and
exposes the number and variety of similar scams that prey on those
who are keen to see their writing become famous.
The way the scam appears to work is that the "winners" are invited to attend
a conference where their award will be presented. Of course attendance involves
a very significant fee and the purchase of a book containing your poem -- along
with the poems of all the other victims (oops, I mean "winners").
"Winners" are lured to the conference (which carries an NZ$1,200 fee) with the
promise that they may be in line for a US$5,000 book contract.
Oh yes, the conference is a real event and a prize is handed out -- but
a look at this page
reveals exactly how the scam really works.
I feel very sorry for Ms Harris, not only because she appears to have fallen
victim to this scam but also because she seems to have done so in a very
One can't help wondering however, exactly why people who obviously use the
Net don't take just a few moments to do a quick search that includes the
word "scam" when confronted with offers or "awards" that appear in their
Like most other Net users, I'm still getting copies of the infamous Nigerian
email that promises me tens of millions of dollars for simply providing
a bank account through which funds can be cleared.
That these guys are still sending out their faxes and emails are further
proof that there must still be a small percentage of people who are just too gullible
for words and actually believe this rubbish.
A note to ISPs -- please, please, please -- consider writing (or having written)
a "Beginners' Guide" to life on the Net. This little document should be
a standard part of your sign-up kit and provided to every new customer.
It should contain basic information on dealing with spam, checking out
possible scams, the do's and don'ts of online security, basic rules for
avoiding viruses, trojans and the like; along with other important material
that many of us "experts" take for granted.
Such a guide should not only be published online, but also provided in print
form. A little booklet that can be stuck to the side of a user's PC monitor
would be ideal. People still value printed material far more than online
text which is easily ignored.
Maybe one of the Net-magazine publications might want to produce such a
booklet in conjunction with some ISPs (I see an advertising/branding
opportunity here ;-).
Oh, and if you actually got out your dictionary to check the veracity of
the claims made in the first sentence of today's column then you really
As predicted last week in this column, it is now confirmed that
The Internet Name Group has bitten
the dust. Hip hip, hooray!
IHUG (the sponsors of this column) have released
a new service that
converts email to speech for delivery to any phone (landline or mobile).
I've got to admit that the URL is really confusing (to me) and for more than
a moment or two I was wondering if TVNZ had given up one of its domain names.
Does the domain name www.t2v.co.nz look
stunningly similar to www.tv2.co.nz to you or am I just dyslexic?
Please remember -- it's the kind folks at IHUG who make this column possible
through their sponsorship. Don't just think about visiting their new site, go
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