Pssst! Want a doctorate?

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:

[photopress:diploma.gif,full,pp_empty]

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?

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Nicholas Gruen
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Nicholas Gruen(@nicholas-gruen)
15 years ago

You mean they’re not real doctorates?

I’ve been robbed.

Dr Nicholas Gruen

harry clarke
15 years ago

Some of them look realistic and some of the banking scam emails look half-sensible. Sometimes however they are very carefully designed but contain a basic spelling error.

The 5% figure sounds very high.

I’ve always sought a Doctor of Divinity from the University of the Beverley Hills because I am tired of people thinking I am a narrow economist.

Yobbo
Yobbo
15 years ago

“Feel free to apply. I’m sure it will be worth every cent you pay.”

Marginally less than an actual bachelor degree from an Australian University, I’d say.

To be honest, if you were applying for a job in something like TEFL or an entry-level office job, one of those degrees would actually be pretty useful, since those are the sorts of job that require degrees for the purposes of pure credentialism rather than any actual knowledge.

I know a few people who have presented fake degrees in order to get employment teaching English in asian countries. (I’m not sure they actually bought them so much as photoshopped them themself though).

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
15 years ago

“I’ve always sought a Doctor of Divinity from the University of the Beverley Hills because I am tired of people thinking I am a narrow economist.”

You think that qualification would change their view, Harry?