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June 27, 2008

Fraud Alert: Woman Gets Two Years for Aiding Nigerian Internet Check Scam

As hopefully all readers of this newsletter know, emails asking for help to cash checks are scams. Sadly, there are still a lot of folks out there who fall for these things every day. According to this article, at least one person in the United States was assisting in the Nigerian scam, and has been tried and convicted.

Please don't be taken in by such scams, and please pass this note along to all your friends, relatives, and business associates to remind them not to fall for them either.

Richard L. Kuper
The Kuper Report

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May 04, 2008

Updated: Privacy & Security Watch: Beware of fake emails appearing to be from the IRS

Richard Kuper
The Kuper Report

(Originally posted April 23, 2008)

I received the following email today. Beware! It is a fake!


"Internal Revenue Service"
(the associated email address was: easytref [at] tax.ref.co.us)

Subject: Tax return (Message ID IRS-9438-2825)

A Secure Way to Receive Your Tax Return

After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have
determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $620.50.
Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 3-9 days in order
to process it.

A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons.

For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.

To access the form for your tax refund, please click here

Note: For security reasons, we will record your ip-address, the date
and time. Deliberate wrong inputs are criminally pursued and indicated.


Internal Revenue Service

Copyright 2008, Internal Revenue Service U.S.A. All rights reserved.


Also note that the link (not included here) seems to point to a website for a boy scout troop in Virginia!

Due to the hacking of that boy scout website, the ISP shut the site down.
Also, there are other scam emails out there regarding the Stimulus Rebate checks being sent out, also appearing to be from the IRS.

If you get any such scam emails, the best way to help the IRS track down the perpetrators is to first, if your email program has the option, choose "show all headers" or something similar. Then forward the email to the following address (and substitute the "[at]" with "@"):

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May 01, 2007

Review: MSGTAG Status - Version 2

When you send a letter via regular mail, you never really know if the recipient has received it. If you want to know, you add a return receipt, and the post office notifies you that the letter has been delivered. It's a pretty dependable system, with only an occasional glitch, but it requires the recipient to acknowledge receipt.

Most email products (except for most online email services) provide a return receipt request feature. Unlike postal mail return receipts, email return receipts can be ignored.

MSGTAG (http://msgtag.com) has created a service that it claims will notify the sender of the following:

* The message that has been received;
* The time that it was received;
* The time it was sent;
* The time elapsed between sending and receiving.

The recipient has no action to take, and won't even know that you are tracking that they have received it.

The website says the product will work with almost any email program, including Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora, Pegasus, Netscape Mail and Incredimail. I do not use any of those. I use Mozilla Thunderbird for outgoing email. It took a little doing and guesswork, but I was able to get it to work.

You cannot use this product to track emails sent from any online email product, such as yahoo mail or hotmail or gmail. As stated on the MSGTAG website: "You need to be using an SMTP mail server, which almost every home computer uses." Also, MSGTAG will not work with an MS Exchange mail server.

Here, basically, are my findings:

MSGTAG will only report that an email has been received if the recipient is using an email client set to receive HTML mail. If the recipient has their email set to only accept text emails (the more secure option), or if they use text-only email clients, including some PDAs and mobile phones, then you will not receive any notice that the email has been received. It seems, however, that a significant number of computer users use HTML-rendering email clients and MSGTAG works for these recipients. The important note here, though, is that you cannot make the assumption that if you do not get a receipt, the email was not received.

There are three flavors of MSGTAG. The version tested is the full-featured version for $59.99, which includes:
* A handy dashboard for tracking receipts
* The ability to customize how the product tracks email receipts
* The ability to flag specific emails or domains to ignore if you send group mail and don't need all those receipts
* The ability to customize email footers
* An option to have recipients who are set up to receive text messages to have to acknowledge receipt - like the existing option in most emails.

There is a less featured version for $19.99 and there is also a free version that will send you an email every time a tagged message has been opened (subject to the limitations I described above).

Richard Kuper
The Kuper Report

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