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"I paid 180 US Dollars for this information on Ebay, yours free!!!"
an e-mail which makes outlandish claims
and then an open letter replying to warn other people about the scam


I received an e-mail from someone, claiming that they had paid 180 dollars for some information, and that they'd been cheated, because the information could be obtained without having to pay for it! They had paid for FREE information! But the plot thickens, as it turns out the information relates to one of the many places where you can buy a degree without having to pass any exams.

So, to sum it up so far, there's:

1. The scam of selling information which is supposed to be free.

2. The scam of the fake degrees. (I already have a page about this racket. See Qualifications on Qualifications).

But there is more! Please read the whole of this page before making your mind up. Don't jump to any conclusions! There may be a third issue of scammishness/cheating. And yes, I HAVE spotted it.

Here is the original message (phone numbers and names have been tactfully removed for good sense reasons!)...

----- Original Message -----
From:
ISTI / ISTI@USA.COM
To:
millennium dome at Zyra's website
Sent: Thursday, December 07, 2006 11:25 AM
Subject: I paid 180 US Dollars for this information on Ebay, yours free!!!

Hi!

I read on Ebay from a seller that I could get a legal University degree from an accredited University and all this based on my life experience. First I thought that it was not legal but after researching I came to know that not only it is legal but it is done worldwide (except in a few countries in Africa and Asia).

I was able to get the contact of the University (the seller sent me their fax number) for the amount of 180 dollars. I found out that I had been robbed by the seller of the information because the University does not charge any amount for this information. Other people do the same selling Gmail account when it is free!!!

The University's Fax number is +1 419 XXX XXXX (Main Campus USA). Send them a fax with your name, the Degree you need, your Email, Your date of Birth and a small text with your work experience and any relevant facts pertaining to the Degree (should be at least 5 years on the field you need the degree in). THAT IS ALL!!! They will contact you on your email and give you the necessary information.

I now got the job I should have had more than 5 years ago. I am in charge of a very important Security firm after 8 years of being just a security guard, the difference is that now I have a degree.

Pass this information to all your contacts in your Email and share this information with any friend that may need it like I did (please do not charge for the information). You can also sms me your email address on +231 X XXX XXX and i will send you more information.

Regards,

[Name Provided]
ISTI@USA.COM

Feel free to contact me on my Email also if you need more information, there are Universities with specialization in subjects like Security, Business Administration, International Relations, etc. I can get you their contacts.

Now let's think about this and apply some intelligence. You shouldn't automatically believe what you read, and if someone says something is available on eBay, it may or may not be true! eBay are quite cautious and they try to avoid dodgy things being put on there, but that doesn't stop people trying, and it doesn't stop people making claims that something is on there when it clearly isn't!

I also know that some people try to charge for information which is normally available free. Although this might be considered disreputable, it's legal in most countries, and it's up to you the customer to have some good sense. It's your responsibility!

Incidentally, a lot of information which is usually charged for at a lot of places is given away free at Zyra's website site index, so you should bookmark it and look things up for yourself.

I'd be especially wary of information being charged for in a sales pitch on eBay or any other online auction site! But my first concern was to warn the sender of the message "I paid 180 US Dollars for this information on Ebay, yours free!!!" to AVOID fake qualifications. So, I started writing this reply, and then I noticed something. Here's my first reply...

----- Original Message -----
From:
ZYRA
To:
ISTI
Sent: Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2006 13:27:05 -0000
Subject: Re: I paid 180 US Dollars for this information on Ebay, yours free!!!

Hi ISTI,

Thanks for writing in. Sorry to hear you have had a bad experience and lost money. I try to help people to avoid being fooled by scams, and the information I provide at
www.zyra.org.uk/rogues.htm helps!

I'll tell you more in a second e-mail, because I have just noticed you have written to an obsolete e-mail address and I want to check your sender address.

By the way, I advise AVOIDING fake qualifications!

Will be in touch!

Kind Regards,

Zyra

www.zyra.org.uk

I had my suspicions when I noticed the email message had been sent to one of the obsolete addresses at this site, and also I was starting to wonder about the sender's e-mail address. It looked as if it wasn't right, somehow! So, rather than writing a copious and informative reply, I just sent the message as seen there, and watched what happened. Very soon after that, I received this...

----- Original Message -----
From:
Mail Delivery System Mailer-Daemon at Vivostar
To:
Zyra
Sent: Friday, December 08, 2006 1:27 PM
Subject: Mail delivery failed: returning message to sender

This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.
A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:

ISTI@USA.COM
SMTP error from remote mail server after RCPT TO:
host usa-com.mr.outblaze.com [208.36.123.58]:
550 : No thank you rejected: Account Unavailable:
Possible Forgery

------ This is a copy of the message, including all the headers. ------

[and then all the usual stuff that comes back when someone has used a fake-up
spoofing address or no longer has the real address they sent from]

"Possible Forgery" indeed?! Well, that could mean any of a number of things. It can happen if someone's e-mail account is terminated or expires or is just "lost", or it can happen if the sender has faked up the "sender address" as with spam! See spoofing. Well I'm not going to accuse this person of sending a faked-up spoofed message, because they might be genuine! Best to give people the benefit of the doubt. Also, I felt that regardless of whether the sender was a scamster trying to slip in an advert for a fake-degree "university" by disguising it as a warning message, or whether the sender was an innocent naive person who'd been fooled into buying a fake degree and whose employers had been daft enough to be convinced by it, or whether there was some innocent and harmless explanation, I should REPLY, even if I couldn't get an e-mail to the sender. The opportunity to tell the world about this in an OPEN LETTER was too good to miss! So, here is my hypothetical online reply to the supposed sender. This message isn't a real e-mail, but is an informative message for you to see. As readers of the site you can consider yourselves BCC to this message as I address my non-receiving correspondent as if I'm an actor speaking to a non-present counterpart on stage while the audience listens intently...

----- Original Message -----
From:
ZYRA
To:
ISTI (not-present)
Sent: Date: Late at night on Fri, 8 Dec 2006
Subject: Furthermore Re: I paid 180 US Dollars for this information on Ebay, yours free!!!

Hi ISTI,

Now as I was saying, it is unfortunate that some people try to charge for information when it's publically available free, but you have to be careful. But as well as the problem of charging for information, there's also the question of whether the information is worth anything in the first place!

I would not consider the contact numbers of "universities" offering fake degrees to be much value at all! These things are more often available as spam messages, which people would probably pay to avoid receiving. There are plenty of places online who will be happy for people to pay them money to get a worthless piece of paper pretending to be a degree. I have pointed out in my page "Qualifications on Qualifications" that employers aren't fooled by bogus degrees and it's wise to avoid paying for a fake qualification. If all you have to do is to "Send them a fax with your name, the Degree you need, your Email, Your date of Birth and a small text with your work experience and any relevant facts pertaining to the Degree", then the "degree" you're going to get isn't exactly going to be worth much! You'd be much better off working for a few weeks and learning some stuff to pass a basic O-level! At least then employers would be much more impressed with the fact that you'd taken the initiative to study for it yourself!

Now I know you say in your message, that your employer has promoted you to a higher class of job and that you are getting more pay, and that you think this is "because you have a degree", I think it is more likely that as you have worked for eight years as a security guard and done a good job, your employer would have given you the promotion anyway! (In fact it might be that your employer doesn't know you have got a fake degree from one of those "pay your money and get your degree" places. It might be best to keep it quiet. After all, in the security business, perceived honesty is a key qualification of the job!). Alternatively it could be that your employer is well aware of the matter of the questionable paid-for degree and yet you are so good in the security business that this misdemeanour has been tactfully overlooked. You are probably so good at being in charge of the security firm that, degree or not, your experience is what matters in practice! By the way you didn't say what the name of the security firm was. It might be good to give it a plug on the Security category here at Zyra's site!

I wish you well in your career, and I hope you enjoy good health. But if you have at some time the misfortune to be taken ill, I hope the doctors treating you are properly medically qualified and have studied for their doctor's degrees and haven't just paid some questionable bogus "university" a few dollars and fooled their way into the job of medical doctor! You might wish to consider checking up on that when you see their MD certificated certificates on the wall!

Yes, thanks, I will share some of the information with people, although I will not forward the message to everyone as that would be irresponsible. You have to be careful, with things that look like "chain letters" etc. If anyone would like to investigate the supposedly accredited university, I'll be happy to forward them the complete message with the headers etc. As far as I know, universities who offer the type of "send us the money and we'll send you the degree" are demoted from the status of "accredited" if they are caught doing that!

As you were kind enough to tell me about your life, I'll tell you a bit about my life. I studied for years and passed my exams and got a REAL degree in Computer Science at Manchester University. I have a good memory and I can remember stuff, to an extent some people describe as "scary". Also, I do scarily well on IQ tests. However, I have never used my degree to get a job. I have used the computer know-how to achieve things, and I currently run my own business and I am emigrating as a tax exile as I have made so much money. My success is not because I have passed my degree, but because I am clever enough to have passed my degree, and I have put my ability to good effect.

Although I might feel free that I should be able to contact you on your e-mail, I have found this is not possible, as your e-mail account seems nonexistent! So, that's why I'm writing this open letter.

Good Luck in your career!

Kind Regards,

Zyra

www.zyra.org.uk
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PS. If you ever get a real e-mail address, you might like to sign up to my unorthodox newsletters. See Zyra's Circular Newsletters

So, there you go! A reply! An open letter warning about dodgy qualifications. There's no guarantee that whoever sent that original message will ever see this page and see the reply, but at least some of the points raised are of interest for everyone to see.