Rural Heritage Sale Barn

Horse Farmers and Email Scams
by Pat Holscher

A sad reflection on human nature, if sort of an odd tribute to our ingenuity, is that progressions in science and technology may be tracked not only by the changes they bring, but also by what is exploited by con artist and criminals. Trains had barely tied the East and West Coast of the country together when thieves began to rob them. Cattle had only barely shown up on the Northern Plains when some figured out they could repeatedly sell the same cattle to a greenhorn buyer by driving them around and around a hill. Branding irons have been used not only to mark stock, but to separate them from their rightful owners with a "long rope and running iron." The list goes on.

We find ourselves today in the midst of a technological revolution that will change things in this century as much as the internal combustion engine did in the last. Like that prior invention, which brought enormous change, both good and bad, the arrival of the internet brings real benefits to humankind and to those who have figured out how to use it run a con game. For those con artists the internet is a vehicle, and the rest of us are the marks.

To catalog all the internet scams and their variations would be difficult, and more appear every day. The most we can do is touch on the highlights and try to offer some small advice for self-protection. Two common and dangerous varieties are the Nigerian Scam and Phishing.

Pat Holscher is an attorney in Casper, Wyoming, who regularly uses email in his practice. He is a frequent contributor to Rural Heritage. This article appeared in The Evener 2005 issue.

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29 April 2012