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Be on the wave or under it™

The News – 05/13/03

In this Issue:

Recommended Reading

I realize this is the only newsletter you’ll ever need, but if you want more in-depth detail, check out:

Stan Hustad’s
The Coaching Connection

Management Signature's
The Express Read

The eBay Suspension Fraud

I recently became aware of yet another email fraud scam, although I don’t quite know the point, as the fraudster bolted and took down their Web site before I could go there.

Over the last few years, a popular method of separating Web users from their money has been to set up Web sites with names that look very similar to legitimate businesses’ and then get unsuspecting users to enter their passwords or credit card numbers. Apparently this ruse was used recently in conjunction with an email that informed an eBay user that his or her account has been suspended “due to concerns we have for the safety and integrity of the eBay community.”

The official-looking email, reported by John Audette, moderator of the I-Sales email list, ends by saying, “To update your member profile copy and paste the following link in your web browser, after you pass the account verification process, your account will be enabled for further use.” The link now turns up a not found error, but there’s no telling how many people gave up sensitive details before the miscreants moved on.

This fraud is somewhat similar to another eBay-related fraud I wrote about in SNS about a year ago. In that one, the user gets a “receipt” for an eBay purchase that they, of course, did not make. The email says, “If you feel that your credit card has been billed wrongly, please visit and fill out all the needed information to cancel the following order.” Of course, one of the bits of “needed information” is the user’s credit card number. Gotcha!

It’s important whenever you are entering sensitive information to not only check for the little lock symbol at the bottom of your browser window (which indicates a secure connection) but also to check the URL itself. If it looks even the least bit fishy ( or, for example) go to the real site and post a query or call the business for confirmation. I almost didn’t complete signing up for Sprint wireless because during the process, I got sent to a site called Turns out that site is OK and handled Sprint equipment sales.

But it’s not always OK. For example, can you tell which of the following Sprint-like domain names are owned by Sprint, and which are owned by others?   

These are just a few of the hundreds of domain names that begin with the word sprint. You’d think there’d be a law against this sort of thing, but apparently trademark owners need a bit of luck on their side to prevail against domain squatters.

I recently researched a domain name that was the name of a client prospect, but which the prospect did not own. The domain was registered to a company called Ultimate Search out of Hong Kong. These guys have been on the wrong side of domain disputes for a while. Their business model appears to be to register domains that would otherwise belong to legitimate businesses and then point them to porn sites.

Check out this bit of editorializing in an article about the company:

Ultimate Search's claimed business practice is the registration of short, generic or otherwise useful domain names for development in its searching service. Unsurprisingly, given this activity, Ultimate is no stranger to UDRP [Uniform

Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy] proceedings. It was involved in a famous case against PriceWaterhouseCoopers in which it successfully defended its registration of (see: PriceWaterhouseCoopers loses domain name challenge - 27th May, 2002) and also successfully managed to obtain a finding of reverse domain name hijacking against a Brazilian company who tried to claim its domain name

I remember that PWC fight and was astonished at the time that, a) PriceWaterhouse was too lame to have beaten anyone to the punch – after all they had to be the first to know that they were intending to merge with Coopers & Lybrand – and b) a judge actually sided with a shady company against a big, powerful, rich one.

All of this underscores the need for your business to do defensive registration – the registering of dozens or hundreds of domain names similar to your own to prevent confusion and fraud in the marketplace. This practice shouldn’t be limited to the registering of and the like. It should encompass sound-alike names and misspellings as well.

I-Sales Discussion List

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: My article, “Innovative Marketers Target Unwired Customers” was published in the NetSuds newsletter.

    Coming Soon: A new eBook, Be On the Wave Or Under It™ will collect the best of SNS’ insights over the last couple of years, along with additional material from CTOMentor white papers and new material. It will make a great gift (Father’s Day?) for associates and friends in need of a guide to the latest and greatest technology. Watch for more information in upcoming SNS issues.

    I was quoted extensively on eLearning in a recent issue of the
    Minneapolis magazine, Upsize, which is aimed at growing businesses.

    A couple issues ago I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation by tipping your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far: $43.48. Thanks, Dave!

    I’ve reworked the TrendSpot and Opinion sections, adding a Prediction Tracking page to track the various predictions I’ve made, and also added a Stuff I Said page with some quotes of things I said a decade or so ago on the Net.

    I repurposed and adapted an article about the wireless service known as Short Messaging Service (SMS) for the Reside newsletter. It’s entitled, Wherever they go, there you are and it points out how marketers can use – carefully – this new way to contact their customers.

    I’m featured in ManyworldsThought Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white papers I’ve done. I’ve also added their fancy icon to the StratVantage site.

  • Qurb Your Enthusiasm! If you want to wage war against the spam in your inbox, one way to do it is to install a filtering program on your computer. While no email filter is perfect – most either have problems with false positives (blocking mail you want) and false negatives (letting spam through) – Qurb stops 100 percent of spam, according to a review on C|Net. It does this by taking the whitelist approach: The software examines your contact list and email folders and permits only those email addresses it finds there to communicate with you. Naturally, anyone legitimate who emails you before you can scan their business card into your system (you do have a business card scanner, don’t you?) gets dumped into the spambox. If a spam message gets through, you can tag it so it is blocked the next time.

    One downside to the whitelist method comes into play if you ever send yourself a message. Qurb then adds your email address to the whitelist, and any spammer out there who is spoofing your email address (changing the From field to make it look like the email is coming from somewhere else) will make it into your Inbox. Qurb is only available for Outlook 2000 or 2002 so those of you with a real email client will have to look elsewhere. Qurb has a free download, or you can buy it for $24.95.

    Other PC-resident spam filters include McAfee’s SpamKiller, which I bought for my mom. I didn’t like it because it doesn’t work within the actual Outlook Express or Outlook programs. You review and approve/deny potential spam in a separate program. That seems a bit kludgy to me. YMMV.
    Thanks to Prospective SNS Reader Kyle Stotz for the pointer.

  • The Business Case for Wireless Access: Regular SNS Readers know I’m a bit ambivalent about whether there’s money to be made by providing Wi-Fi (wireless LAN) access points (see my NetSuds article for example). Well the Old Gray Lady – you know, the All the News That’s Fit to Print people – seems to agree that the value of Wi-Fi access may be in its ability to attract customers to unrelated businesses. Witness their interview with Joan Griffith, owner of the Wild Wood art café in Austin, Texas (the country’s most unwired city). Ms. Griffith “said she offered free Wi-Fi access because it was far more important to her to increase the number of customers than to make a little bit of money from an access surcharge. Besides, she said, free access breeds good will, which in turn breeds loyalty.”

    Bingo! The Times continues on to predict that “wireless carriers are perhaps taking in a nice sum now, but as competition increases, prices will fall, and the margins will narrow to the point where it makes little or no point to charge for the access.” Indeed, after an initial few-hundred-dollar cash outlay, Ms. Griffith is paying only an additional $40 a month for the extra bandwidth her customers use. That’s pretty cheap advertising if it brings in a few extra customers.

    But you have to ask yourself what will happen when every Tom, Dick & Starbucks is offering free Wi-Fi access. Wi-Fi at that point becomes the ante, and you offer it to retain customers, not attract new ones. That’s my prediction, and I think it will play out over the next couple of years, at most. Could this finally be the driver that revitalizes the telecom industry?
    New York Times (registration required)

  • Taking Hot Pix: Through a bit of serendipity while researching the lead article this issue I found a site hawking a “Precise Fever Screening Camera.” This device, seemingly rushed to market to capitalize on the SARS epidemic, triggers an alarm if the subject’s temperature is above 37.5°C (99.5 F, the rather bizarre threshold medical authorities are using to diagnose the disease). The device claims a resolution of less than 0.12°C and takes pictures at 30 frames per second. Sounds way too good to be true, and the site name, also sounds like a scam.

    Turns out, however, that this device may in fact be real, and is manufactured by the apparently reputable Land Instruments International. So what is this camera doing being shilled on a possibly-fraudulent Web site out of
    Singapore with the shady-sounding name Beats me.

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About The Author

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Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at Let me know what you think.

Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003