Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Making Money with Your PC

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Making Money with Your PC

Article excerpt

Can you get rich quick on the lnternet? Sure you can, if you believe the flood of e-mail messages sent by "entrepreneurs" hoping you'll invest in their enterprises.

Don't believe them.

Those sending this growing torrent of comeons are almost always tricksters. They often lie from the get-go. "ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED FROM ROBERT ALLEN," shouted one message I received recently. I never requested any information in the first place.

Typically, the appeal is to greed. "Earn $50,000 in only 90 days!! It really works!"

Sometimes these misguided opportunists go for your emotions, such as guilt. "Why haven't you contacted me?" pleaded one. But soon greed dominated the message, which described a program where you can "earn millions of dollars." In scam-speak, the message righteously proclaimed, "This is NOT a get-rich-quick scam."

Here's one that tried appealing to a noble ideal. "The GOLDEN rule," it began. What's the golden rule it advocated? Making money by pitching the same con to millions of others.

Sometimes the cluelessness boggles the mind. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY," I was cheerfully greeted by one come-on, trying to entice me to read the message. Only the chances of my birthday falling that week were one in 52 -- terrible odds.

"It' someone e-mails solicitations indiscriminately, delete them without reading," says Paul Edwards, lawyer and lecturer, co-author of the book Working From Home, and perhaps the country's leading expert on home-based businesses.

The reason is that unsolicited, untargeted bulk e-mail, called spam, has long been a violation of Internet norms. Spam uses Internet resources paid for not by the sender but by the recipient. This is why it's illegal to send junk faxes and why legislation is pending to restrict unsolicited commercial e-mail as well.

Bona fide businesses don't send spam, or if they do, it only takes one time for them to realize their mistake. Scam artists, on the other hand, send spam over and over. Don't bother asking them to take you off their list. They typically just use your e-mail response as verification that you have a working e-mail address, often selling your address to other spammers.

Unfortunately, some companies make the mistaken assumption that if you buy a product from them, they have created a "relationship" with you and are therefore entitled to e-mail you unsolicited ads. Smart companies know this angers too many customers. …

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