Social Darwinism is undeniably obnoxious. But it’s hard to feel sorry for some victims of Internet fraudsters. I certainly wouldn’t be wasting any sympathy, for example, on the greedy but moronic victims of the good old Nigerian email scam. They’re people who are perfectly happy to conspire with self-confessed crooks to defraud the citizens of the poorest countries on earth.
A marginally more amusing class of scam is emails which offer instant uni degrees. I’ve had three of these little rippers in my email inbox just today:
Feel free to apply. I’m sure it will be worth every cent you pay.
Strangely, it appears not to be just greed or dishonesty that causes people to be tricked by Internet scams. More often it’s just naivety. Astonishingly, recent academic research shows that 90% of people are unable to pick a spurious bank “phishing” site designed to harvest personal online banking logon details. And 5% of people who receive “phishing” emails purporting to be from banks actually respond to them and provide their account details! A fool and his money are soon parted, of course, but it’s hard to believe there are so many fools out there. How difficult is it to conclude that no reputable bank would ever send you an email asking you to “verify” your account details? And you’d imagine anyone who does Internet banking would have their bank’s site bookmarked. Wouldn’t you think they’d notice when the link in the scammer’s email took them to a different address?