There is a new kind of scam called “phishing,” which has plagued the Internet. Phishing sounds the same as the
word “fishing,” and it implies a thief is trying to lure people into giving away valuable information. Like real fishermen,
phishers use bait in the form of fake emails and false websites to con people into revealing credit card numbers, account
usernames, and passwords. They imitate well-known banks, online sellers, and credit card companies. Successful
phishers may convince as many as 5 percent of the people they contact to respond and give away their personal financial
information. Because people who have access to the Internet (about 350 million) mostly live in wealthier countries, even
tricking only 5 percent of them can make a lot of money.
Since there is so much money to make through this kind of scam, it has caught the interest of more than just
small-time crooks. Recently, police tracked down an organized phishing group in Eastern Europe who had stolen millions
of dollars from people online. Further investigation revealed that this group had connections with a major crime gang in
How can innocent websurfers protect themselves? Above all, always be wary of any email with urgent requests
for personal financial information. Also, messages from phishers will not address recipients by name because they really
don’t know who the recipients are yet. On the other hand, valid messages from your bank or other companies you
normally deal with typically include your personal name.