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Data Protection scamsters now get in on the act

webwatch

The good news is that the Netherlands has deported more 491 scamsters, 21 this time , reports last week's The Register. The bad news is that they seem to have moved to Belgium and Italy.

The most amusing variation on the advance-fee fraud, it reports at www. theregister. co. uk/2004/09/08/ university_of_nigeria, is the otherwise unknown University of Nigeria. One testimonial from a satisfied graduate reads: 'In less than a month, I was up and running in my own international online business. I made friends with people all around the world and convinced many of them to invest in my advanced-fee service.' I have warned about bogus demands for website registration; now the scamsters are ripping off companies by posing as agents of the Data Protection Act. The bogus letters demand up to £135 and threaten all sorts of things should you not comply. The statutory notification fee is actually £35 a year and should be paid to the Information Commissioner's Office, not the Data Protection Agency, DPR Services, the Data Protection Enforcement Agency or whatever bogus name has been dreamed up. As the commisssioner's site points out, 'correspondence that is really from the IC always bears his Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire address'.

Should you be uncertain about whether you should register in the first place, take a look at www.informationcommissioner. gov. uk .

This is a week for warnings. Resist the temptation to download hitherto unpublished paparazzi photos of David Beckham playing away: you will get the Hackarmy Trojan virus. Other recent lures include offers of Iraqi beheading images, Osama bin whatsit's suicide and a suicide note from Arnold 'Russian Tanks' Schwarzenegger. The technique is to start a rumour across the newsnet about the availability of hot, so-farunpublished material. Images of the new associate director and the postroom person are, however, probably just that.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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