If, as P. T. Barnum said, a sucker is born every minute, let's hope they haven't hit the Internet yet. If so, the hucksters are waiting to take their money.
The second credit-card scam to hit the Net in as many weeks was mass E-mailed to users of the Internet on Thursday. The letter mimicked a contest from leading Internet search company Yahoo! Inc.
"We were very upset that someone was trying to impersonate our service," said Katie Burke, senior producer of Yahoo! Mail. "We are trying to alert the people who might have responded to the mail [with their credit card number]."
Yahoo! has so far been contacted by 100 people that sent credit card information in response to the hoax, said Burke. Because the scam used an Internet service provider with which Yahoo! is not affiliated, the company did not know how many people may have actually responded to the message.
With spelling and grammar errors, the latest E-mail scam is hardly convincing, but Burke thought users hoping for free goods -- in this case, a 56K-bps modem -- might be taken.
"The lesson here is clear," said Burke. "Don't send your credit card number to someone you don't trust."
Last week, a similar hoax mimicking a letter from Microsoft's Bill Gates also requested users' credit card numbers. According to the E-mail, Microsoft was willing to credit users' cards $1,000 because the company had place viruses on everyone's computers to test some new software.
Microsoft would not comment on the hoax.
The current scam is the second attack on Yahoo!'s name this week. Earlier in the week, hackers attacked the Yahoo! home page, replacing it with a digital ransom demand seeking the release of convicted cybercriminal Kevin Mitnick.
The posted demand was only up for 15 minutes before Yahoo! technicians removed it, and was only visible to users of text-only browsers.