Internet Theft and Fraud
My friends in the web hosting business have recently informed me that the big problem this year (2004) is security and fraud. I have read that currently the F.B.I. receives over 9,000 complaints per month pertaining to bogus email and websites. Why is this happening? Are just a few 'bad apples' doing it, or is it the result of a lopsided world economy where the underprivileged are finally striking back like the infamous Robin Hood? Whatever your moral view, I've got the strange feeling it stems from a growing unconscious greed in the social consciousness of modern society. People worship money, not spirituality or love. Am I wrong?
Technically, the main problems at the moment are 'phishing' or 'spoofing' scams. This is where the use of Spam or junk-email is used to lure computer users to look-alike websites where they are deceived into giving out personal information and financial data. Often these emails are coming from trusted sources where hackers have altered links to send you straight into their 'pockets'. The Internet user is duped into thinking that they are visiting a trusted website page, when actually it is an excellent copy of the original. There might be only one tiny change in the web address that is often not easily recognizable.
Identity theft is where multiple tricks are employed to make you fill out fake forms on fake sites to get all sorts of information that can then be used by thieves to steal money or get free Internet access. Anything from credit card numbers to account information, passwords, billing data and personal phone numbers and addresses have been stolen and used for criminal purposes.
These tricksters, few or many, are wizards at finding loopholes in mail systems of legitimate sites. Just go to the site entitled www.crimesofpersuasion.com and read some articles about a few of the more famous scams that have been busted or that are still in circulation. There's a story about a 17-year-old boy who was arrested with over a million dollars in misappropriated funds hidden in a Costa Rican casino account! Smart kid, but how smart is he really if he got caught? On the site above there are also tips for consumers generally focusing on how not to give your information away to anyone at any time. Check them out.
It worries me a little, this huge amount of illegal activity. I know that a lot of people feel that currently the world is very imbalanced in terms of wealth and spirituality and that this new epidemic is just a karmic reaction of the oppressed masses. The United States earns 50 percent of the world's economy, of course some of the other 95% of Earth's population is going to be keen for a piece of the pie, right? Steal from the rich and feed the poor like that guy in the green tights.
The funny thing is I think that a lot of these thieves are living in America and unbeknownst to themselves be already part of the top 5% of wealthy humans. The problem is that they always want more. Money can become addictive in a consumerist society whose advertising and marketing schemes are constantly bombarding us with stimulus relating to the next new product that we 'need' in our lives. We are never satisfied with what we've got. The next purchase's momentary injection of adrenalin becomes more of an imperative than any concept of lasting spiritual happiness.
Feel sorry for these people that have to go through all the rigmarole of sorting all these frauds from the real sites out there. I doubt there is a religion on Earth that teaches that theft is a balanced respectful action. I do know that when the country of Australia was founded it was done so on the backs of convicts, many of who had only stolen bread to survive. That's a kind of theft that will question your moral value system. I'll leave you with one last question: If the 'first world' has nearly all the money on our planet, are we the biggest thieves of all?
Jesse S. Somer
Jesse S. Somer is a concerned human hoping to one-day witness humanity living in a peaceful and egalitarian world.