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xDavid Knell

Concise Guide Series

Internet Con Trick
September 2001

There have been quite a few reported cases of charity scams recently. The con artists operating such scams prey on people's kind intentions by sending emails asking them to donate to a charitable cause but the link provided in the email actually takes them to a bogus site. The page on that site takes the visitor's donation but pays the money into the con artist's own account.

If a website or an email asked you to click a link to make a donation to a well known charity, you might well suspect a scam if you saw the link read

Even if the link was hidden like this
Red Cross

or this

your suspicions would be raised if you noticed a strange URL (the web address beginning "http://") in the status bar (at the bottom of your screen) when you moved your mouse over the link. And even if you missed that, the URL in the address bar (immediately above your browser window) after you went to the website would alert you.

If you think you're going to a well known charity website, you would naturally expect to see a familiar URL with the name of the charity in it. For instance, the URL for the American Red Cross is

But what if the link read

and it still reads the same in the status bar when you run your mouse over it? Would you trust it? The genuine URL for the American Red Cross really is so that link looks pretty convincing.

Go ahead and click on it. See what happens . . .

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