24 de Feb de 2020

Nacional

Panama a target for phishing

Like fire, computers are great servants but bad masters. When e-mailing first arrived, it was greeted with rapturous delight by business...

Like fire, computers are great servants but bad masters. When e-mailing first arrived, it was greeted with rapturous delight by businesses and individuals. Wow, a great opportunity to maintain contact with far flung relatives, friends, and the great art of letter writing could come back to life. Business would be speeded up, and the fax machine headed the way of the dodo. The world was at your fingertips But then came the downside.

Letter writers grew more verbose, like Charles Dickens’ padding out the death of Little Nell, to meet his quota of words for the month. In the great age of letter writing, the world moved at a more leisurely pace. No TV, more time to gather your thoughts, and the postman arrived only once or twice a day.

Now, with a speeded up world, messages appear instantaneously in the far corners of the world, but they all seem to want instant replies. We also have ever open doors for unsolicited mail. For many of us, cleaning out the daily mish mash, has become a time consuming chore and, in spite of the spam filters we are targets for the age old, begging letter.

Perhaps, because Panama has been getting world wide attention, as a “tax haven” and “money laundering” center, it the scammers of the world have united to launch multiple daily strikes. Rarely a day goes by without a message from, Hong Kong, Swaziland, England, Belgium, The Seychelles, Botswana, Canada, and more. The hooks range from illiterate to smoothly written epistles, all dedicated to extracting money from you and your credit cards.

If there are any local sharks at work, they probably direct their mailing efforts to other countries, or remain content to fleece people locally with some get-rich quick ponzi scheme. Gullible new arrivals have been caught by golden tongues speculators, alleged real estate agents, and the helpful “guide” to life in the tropical paradise.

They produce flam “magazines,” glossy brochures, that in their home countries with claims would probably get them thrown in jail. But in Panama, everything goes.

An example of a misleading claim: On-line publication Panama Magazine lists Mary Sloane as a publisher and managing editor and describes her as a lawyer, in spite of the fact that she resigned from her home country law society after being found guilty of fraudulent practices. She is currently in the midst of a dispute over a an investment plan gone wrong, costing ex-pats millions of dollars.

A lot of the gullible are motivated by greed. If anyone promises a 60 percent return on investment head for the door. < < < But it’s the letter writers that get the biscuit.

They have in common a relative who has died, leaving millions, which for various reasons they need to invest abroad. (What better place than the Panama laundry? ) One plea was repeated, word for word, in three letters from Africa, each with a different female signature. It had the added bonus of not only sharing in $29 million., but the sender also wanted to live with me. The letter went to dozen’s of others in Panama, sounding like a harem in reverse.

Other recent mailing included those from Canadian banks. For completing a brief survey, there would be a $50 gift, no doubt deposited to your credit card, once you passed over its number.

Others from Europe and Canada let you know that you have won million in a random lottery. A follow up on one of them asked me to fly to Brussels for the presentation, after first to sending a hefty check to a Belgian lawyer, who would process my claim.

Yep, there’s one born everyday. In the meantime the letters clog up my in-box, Give me a break guys.