An interview with Brett M. Christensen, founder of Hoax-Slayer.com4/05/2013
Did you remember I wrote a short article on Email Scams ? The following short interview was c...
Did you remember I wrote a short article on Email Scams? The following short interview was conducted via e-mail and I'm publishing the interview here. You can visit http://www.hoax-slayer.com for being updated on all types of hoaxes and scams. Here are those:
1: Why did you open Hoax-Slayer.com?
A: I became interested in online scams and hoaxes in 2003 after I was caught out by a virus hoax. The hoax claimed that downloading a Budweiser Frogs screensaver could give you a virus that could destroy your computer. I sent it on to all of my contacts as instructed, but was soon informed that the message was a hoax. I then started to research emails that came my way. Soon, people on my contact list started to send me messages for verification. I then started an email discussion group about hoaxes and scams and, soon after, I created the Hoax-Slayer website. The site has grown from these beginnings.
A: As noted above, I was once the victim of a hoax. However, thankfully, I have never been a victim of a scam. I have, however, been contacted by many people who have become scam victims and I have learned a lot about online scams from hearing their stories.
3: What kind of feedback do you get from readers?
A: Most of the feedback I receive is positive. I'm pleased to say that people often contact me to let me know that they have avoided a scam or hoax because of material they have read on Hoax-Slayer. Others contact me to let me know that the site has helped them educate others about scams or hoaxes. I also receive many submissions of scams and hoaxes from readers. These submissions are very important as they help me to ascertain what scams and hoaxes are circulating and write about them if necessary. Given that the site sometimes covers controversial or contentious topics, I do sometimes receive critical or abusive feedback from people who disagree with something I have written.
4: Do you have links with press organisations, newspaper editorial teams, and such?
A: I do not have official links with such organisations and operate independatly. However, during research for articles, I regularly contact journalists, company representatives, government departments and people that are known to be experts in a particular field.
5: How do you think we can stop scams from spreading? What are the other ways to stop scams, other than stopping to re-post scams without verifying the facts?
A: Internet users could do a great deal to help stop scams by taking the time to educate themselves about common types of scams and how to avoid them. Learning to recognize scams is not particularly difficult or time consuming. Also, more experienced computer users can help greatly by taking the time to help educate newer computer users about scams and how to avoid them. And computer users should also make sure that they keep their software and operating systems up-to-date and use reliable anti-virus and anti-malware scanners to protect themselves.
6: Do you encourage guest posts on your website?
A: I do not generally accept guest posts on the site. However, that would depend on who was writing the post and what the article was about. I would not rule out accepting guest posts if the content of the post was suitable.
7: Why do you think people start fraudulent activities? Is it simply for fun, or for making money?
A: Scams, such as phishing or advance fee scams, are definitely motivated by the desire to make money. The motivation for hoaxes is perhaps a little more complex. Some hoaxes are probably created just so their creators can see how far and for how long they will spread. In some cases, the pranksters who create a hoax might just be trying to draw attention to themselves or promote a a website, group, or product. Other hoaxes may be created to push a particular political or religious agenda or to discredit a particular group or individual.
All answers are replied by Brett himself. The copyright for the answers belongs to Brett, while the publication rights stay with me. We'll be going more out of the way to conduct further interviews and will bring you more cool stuff!