Rural Heritage Sale Barn

Horse Farmers and Phishing
by Pat Holscher

The other scam horse people are likely to run into is phishing. Where this name comes from isn't clear, but some people claim it stands for Password Harvesting Fishing. In this class of scam the email recipient is sent an official looking email that seeks a response. The email is often sent on a spoofed email address; that is, it looks like a bonafide business sent it, but the sender copies the format of some company's email and uses it as a trick. Sometimes the job is quite amateurish, but other times it looks exactly like a communication from the real company. The sender may appear to be a bank or other business, but often phishers spoof the internet auction site eBay, or the site Paypal popularly used to pay for items. The scam is so common an organization has sprung up to combat it, the Anti-Phishing Working Group (

The problem may sound relatively small, but a quick check of eBay will demonstrate the huge amounts of tack sold through that site, including numerous draft horse items, and some of the items are quite rare and valuable. Horse related items are bought and sold every day on eBay.

So how does this scam work? Typically the mark receives an email informing him that his account is expiring, or asking him to verify his information, or things of a similar nature. Eventually the mark's credit card information will be sought, which is what the con actually wants.

With all these frauds in circulation, some people are tempted to forego the internet entirely. In the modern world, however, that is rapidly becoming impossible. Besides, why let the con artists have the field, when a few simple measures will let you avoid these scams. Although some of the following measures are obvious, others are less so, and all are merely suggestions to help you avoid "the sting."


Pat Holscher is an attorney in Casper, Wyoming, who regularly uses email in his practice.

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02 June 2005