Blurred Lines between Legitimate and Scam
We think it’s safe to assume that all of our readers know what to do when they see an email like this one that says it’s from “Western Union” and begins with “Dear Beneficiary.” It is so ridiculously obvious that it is a Nigerian 419 scam! The “Board of Directors of WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM, the FBI alongside with the Ministry of Finance” have not agreed to award you $250,000.00 from the U.S. Department of Treasury.
But what about this email that appears to have come from Tonya at mycareerfriend[.]com to inform you that a payment as much as $683.20 will be made to you for answering some questions? A person who pays very close attention to detail will see that the email was signed by “Allison” not Tonya and that there is some bizarre text at the bottom of the email about Keto Aisian stir fry. But nevermind those things that make no sense, we’re interested in making some money! The email points to the domain sailthru[.]com.
Sailthru[.]com appears to be a legitimate marketing firm, with lots of information on their website and several social media accounts. Their LinkedIn account says “Sailthru, part of CM Group's family of brands, helps modern marketers at leading retail and media companies build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers.” Crunchbase lists information about this company, including links to their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, as well as the company phone number. Apparently, the company was founded in 2008. Does this information make you feel differently about this offer to earn up to $683.20 by answering a few questions?
We believe it is important to broaden our perspective and see what others may be saying about Sailthru[.]com. We found information listed on the Better Business Bureau website about Sailthru[.]com and it wasn’t pretty. The BBB.org website gives Sailthru an “F” grade and the four complaints we found there are scathing. Here is a snapshot of two of them….
Given this rating and these complaints, how do you feel about clicking that link to provide them with your email address, answer some questions and, presumably, collect your payment?
What about this next email that was sent from another legitimate business called MyLife[.]com? The subject line reads “see new criminal and court records, reviews, scores & more for your network.” The woman who received this email was shown the names, addresses and ages of three of her neighbors. Each was given a “reputation score,” though there is no explanation in this email how a score was calculated. Apparently, you can visit their website and search reputation scores on all your relatives, neighbors, friends and classmates. Feels a bit intriguing, doesn’t it? (We’ve confirmed that all links in this email point back to web pages on MyLife[.]com.)
According to Wikipedia, MyLife[.]com was founded in 2002 (as Reunion[.]com) as an information broker, collecting and selling personal information about people. However, the company has been sued multiple times for a variety of reasons. Here is a link to a news article on ABCNews.com about one of these lawsuits in 2011. The article is called MyLife[.]com: People Searching Website Sued as ‘Scam’. On TrustPilot.com, 98% of the 54 reviews listed give MyLife[.]com a rating of 1 out of 5 stars. Similarly, 321 of 335 reviews on SiteJabber.com give MyLife[.]com 1 star out of 5 stars. Though BBB.org currently gives this business a “B” grade rating, there are more than 13,000 complaints listed against this company! The most favorable rating we could find about this company was 2.5 stars out of 5 on ConsumerAffairs.com. But the day before we visited ConsumerAffairs.com, “Edmund of Medway, MA.” posted this severely critical review…
“Stay away. STAY FAR AWAY. 1 dollar free trial subscription turned into 21 dollar charge and then without knowing sign you up for a search subscription and wack your credit card for searching. 41.85 dollars. They auto charge to start billing. You have to disable the auto renewal. But when you try to deactivate the account they require you to call a phone number. Really? I have contacted my bank about this charge. I will Never sign up for anything without taking a deeper look into the company. If I could I would give the[m] negative stars.
We found many more complaints against this company as well as articles about how to get your personal information removed from their databases. So, once again, it begs the question… How do you feel now about clicking any of those links to look into the reputation of friends, neighbors, relatives and classmates? We think it’s much more important to look into the reputation of the company that claims to possess and provide that information! We’ll leave you with one more news article about this company worth reading. It appeared on the Pittsburg CBS News website in May, 2019 and is called Concern Growing Over ‘Nefarious’ Website Offering Individuals’ Personal Information, Reputation Rating.
Let’s turn our attention to one more “legitimate” company… Cloudclickforriches[.]com. This email from CloudClickForRiches[.]com told one of our readers that they “found a check in your name.” They say that she might be missing out on “some serious cash.” To “Claim Your Missing Check” she’s asked to click a tracking link to icptrack.com that will redirect her to cloudclickforriches[.]com and then send her to Click4Riches[.]com.. According to DomainBigData.com, cloudclickforriches[.]com was registered in March, 2019 and belongs to “Brought to you by Click 4 riches.” This company owns about 70 domain names that are similar and related to “riches,” clicking, and sweepstakes.
What is exceptionally striking to us is the lack of information about this company, despite the fact that they have owned 70 domains since 2015. When we try to look up information about many of their domains, we either can’t find the domain online or find that Google knows nothing about it at all…
One of the few reviews we could find on the Internet was this very negative review on The Make Money Online Blog. They rated Click4Riches[.]com 10% out of 100 because of the personal information the blog claims that Click4Riches[.]com collects and sells to others, and the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any identifiable winners of their $50,000 sweepstakes since at least 2017.
Reflecting on what we’ve learned about these legitimate companies that have been around for years and have a history, but questionable practices and strategies for engaging with consumers, the message seems clear to us… Before you believe any email, offer or claim, due your due diligence to check on the reputation of the company behind the email and website! And if you can’t find anything about that company, that should also be a red flag to proceed with caution or not proceed at all! Here are links to a couple of useful tools in your effort to spotlight helpful information:
And remember to enter the name of the website into Google, followed by the word “review” and “scam!”
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