) ( ( ) Good Morning Family! ( \ .-.,--^--. ( Come on in. . . \* ) \\|`----'| - The coffee pot's on. . . .=|=. \| |// ...and we even have decaf, |~'~| | |/ tea, and hot chocolate! | | \ / _|___|_ ------ (_______) I had today's Coffee all set and ready to go when I realized I'd been contacted by a cousin regarding another new alias of our old nemesis, Family Discovery. Then, I received a second message from yet another cousin regarding scam/spam. In lieu of these new messages, I decided somebody must be telling me something! So, I've put the story aside I wrote for today, and this week I'll bring you all up to speed on the newest of the bad side of the Web to ensure you're all protected with the knowledge. Because of the nature of this Coffee, I will be sending it out to ALL my lists, including those city, county and state ones that I maintain. So, if you happen to be on one of them, this is the reason you find me joining you for coffee this morning. :) Today's topics: 1. Welcome to new cousins 2. Genealogyexperts.com ~ is it familydiscovery.com? 3. Scam/spam 4. Recommended sites TO OUR NEWEST COUSINS ~~ On behalf of the entire family, I'd like to extend a most hearty welcome to those cousins who came into the family fold this past week. We are very glad to have you with us and hope you'll stay and remain a part of our online family. As soon as you're comfortable with us and the list, please send in your list-surname lines so we can all see how we're related to you. We do not have a fancy format for sending in records or queries to the list. Post as many as you wish! If the data has anything to do with our list-surname ancestors that might help someone, please feel free to post it. Every scrap of information is appreciated. You're welcome to share this Coffee with your genealogy friends and relatives. If they are not members of our online family and would like to begin receiving the Coffee, they are now able to. Simply have them send a blank email to <[email protected]>. GENEALOGY EXPERTS ~ IS IT FAMILYDISCOVERY.COM? Most of us know all about these shysters. However, there are some of you who are new to the Web and don't know. This is for you: This is going to read just like my January warning! I'm sorry... but the words don't want to change... I guess it's always the same story with these people. :( "Genealogy Experts ~ it's a new commercial enterprise!" No, it isn't. This has the same trappings of Family Discovery using yet a another new alias; the same ploy as before ~ just with a new wrapping. Avoid them like you would any of Family Discovery's other "enterprises." Tender newbies, the subject of Family Discovery is NOT new and yes, they are rip-offs. This is an old subject among those of us who have been doing online genealogy for at least the last two years. The storyline changes a little, but the players are all the same, and you should be aware... Family Discovery and their alias sites (below) links their pages to free Rootsweb <http://www.rootsweb.com> sites and archive pages, USGenWeb sites, and privately owned sites by way of frames ... sites on which all the information is already free. Unless the attached site has some sort of identifier on each page, you the viewer, will not realize that you're viewing free pages and *paying* for the "privilege" of doing so! Family Discovery is doing this without permission and have been under investigation by at least two states' attorneys for the past two years. Now, while I'm at it, you need to know those other aliases so you're not taken in. Following is a list of sites associated with Family Discovery domain owners in one way or another: genealogydevelopments.com familydiscovery.com genealogyfinders.com genealogyfinders.net aboent.com genlocator.com genseeker.com genseekers.com genealogy-express.com Most of the above sites bill themselves as "the most comprehensive easy to use collection of online records ever compiled," or something close to it. Of course it is, if they link to every free website they can find! Save your money and do the search yourself! You DO NOT need to pay for a service that is already free if you know where to look. If you need assistance, send a message to the list and state in the top line of your message that you're a newbie needing help; you'll probably get more than you can handle! :) Census Diggins <http://www.censusdiggins.com/familydiscovery.html> has messages online from quite a few people who have stepped forward to tell you of their dealings with Family Discovery and some of their aliases. If you haven't done it already, it would be in your best interests to check it out, if only for a quick look. You newbies to online genealogy would be especially wise to go to this site and read what others are saying so you won't be ripped off. Jeff Scism has a lot of this in BIG, BLACK, BOLD lettering (really) on this page <http://blacksheep.rootsweb.com/shame/genealogyexperts.htm>. Between Census Diggins and Jeff's Blacksheep page, you'll certainly understand why I'm devoting half of this Coffee to a warning. Just please, remember the above list of aliases. These people will take your money, giving you little to nothing in return, and from their past history will not answer any of your messages. Hide your wallet, checkbook, credit card, and run! :) SPAM/SCAM This subject is one that, if not careful, could cost you your life savings. The second message I received said: "Larry Elder <KABC Talk Radio host> mentioned the Nigerian spam and how people ARE actually being taken in by it." If you receive this spam, the government wants you to send it to them at one of two addresses <[email protected]> or <[email protected]>. They are doing an investigation to get these people shut down. You'll need to forward the received message WITH THE FULL HEADERS. See the link to Gene Olson's site (below) where you can find instructions on how to open the full headers in a message. A site called Internet Scambusters <http://www.scambusters.org/Scambusters52.html> is dedicated to spreading the word about every scam they find out about. It's one you definitely want to visit. They have a newsletter that I receive that helps me stay ahead of these ripoffs; you might want to begin receiving it, yourself. EIGHT TIPS TO AVOID BEING TAKEN: 1.) Don't ever buy an item that you learn about via bulk email ("spam"). Your chances of receiving the item *at all* are only 45%, and the chance of your getting what you think at a reasonable price (so you're happy with the transaction) is less than 5%. In other words, "If it's spam, it's scam." 2. Always use a credit card to purchase online. This protects you. Your maximum exposure is $50, and often you won't even lose that amount if you get scammed. 3. If you are buying something at a reputable online auction site, always check out the references for the seller and only buy from sellers who have good references. Take advantage of online auction guarantees, such as those offered by amazon.com. 4. Don't conduct business with an anonymous user. Get the person's real name, business name (if applicable), address, and phone number. Verify this information before buying. And don't send your payment to a post office box. 5. Be more cautious if the seller uses a free email service, such as hotmail, yahoo, etc. Of course, most people who use these free services are honest. However, most problems occur when a free service is used. After all, with a free email service, it is very easy for the seller to keep his or her real identity and information hidden. 6. If the unsubscribe address is at a generic domain like Yahoo or Hotmail, chances are that your request will never be opened. On the other hand, if the site the spam mail is advertising has a quality domain, and the return address is within that domain, it's much more likely that the message will be read and may even be acted upon. 7. Save copies of all of the emails and other documents involved in the transaction. Then, if you discover that an item is counterfeit or not as advertised, you have documentation to help you deal with the problem. 8. Use common sense and trust your intuition. If you have a funny feeling about an item, don't buy it. You're very likely right that it is counterfeit. RECOMMENDED SITES Bad Business Web Site <http://www.compuright.net/EWOlson/badbusiness/> will give you instructions on how to forward an e-mail with the complete headers ~ something you need to know in order to forward spam/scam messages to the government and spam- or scam-reporting sites. Internet Fraud Complaint Center <http://www.ifccfbi.gov> is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center which addresses fraud committed over the Internet by providing an easy to use way of alerting the authorities. ScamWatch <http://www.scamwatch.com> provides complete fraud Protection services for the entire Web community. These services include investigation, tracking, recording and removal of fraudulent activities (scams) on the Internet. Most services are available 24 hours a day and are cost free. [NOTE: Due to inadequate funding for their sites, Web Police, InterGOV, and all related agencies curtailed "all non-essential" services to the Internet community on July 22nd. It appears though, that you can still report a scam.] Victim-Assistance Online <http://www.vaonline.org> is a non-profit organization serving the international community. They are an on-line reference and communications resource for victim assistance service and support organizations, the staff and volunteers of these organizations, professionals in related fields and the general public. Our ancestors didn't have to put up with shysters in the same way we do today. Today we are almost required for our own survival to be one step ahead of "them" and certainly to be aware. It's my hope that this Coffee, if you didn't already know, has done that for you. It's family ... and that's what we're all about. I so enjoyed spending this time with you today. Thank you for sharing it with me. I wish each of you a week filled with health, productivity, fun, and above all, filled with love and inner peace. ) ( ) _.-~~-. (@\'--'/. Colleen ('``.__.'`) `..____.'