Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Go ahead and look that gift horse in the mouth.

So I'm playing a little on-line poker after a long day at work, minding my own business, when something catches my eye in the chat window. No, it's not someone baiting a bet with profanity hidden in glyphs...well, it is, but in addition to that—it is FullTilt announcing a tremendous promotion! If I am one of the first 100 people to follow the link and enter my information, I win a bonus of $1,000 to my account!

Are your skeptical alarms sounding yet? They should be. I decide trust my antivirus software and see where they are going with this. I follow the link.

Turns out the page looks authentic, not surprising. From reading about bank scams I know how easy it is to fake a page by looking at source code and taking a screenshot. It also turns out that I'm a winner, despite my very slow response time accessing the page. The information it requires is my screenname and account information. Account information like finanical account information. It was unclear if they planned on paying out the bonus directly into my bank account or it was just to verify the screenname, but both scenarios make no sense for a legitimit promotion. They wouldn't pay anything out of the site, they want to keep the money in play, free or otherwise; and the screenname is all the verification they ever need.

I imagine that if the site got what it wanted, it would load a message about needing a week or so to process the payment so I wouldn't suddenly get wise when I wasn't $1,000 in the green. I emailed FullTilt about the ordeal. The response confirmed that no such promotion was offered and assured me that FullTilt would never ask for such finanical information. I was hoping to read something about their efforts to eliminate these scams, but I guess it's not their problem.

They say you can't con an honest man. Cons say that at least. I'll say that cons work best on people who want to take the easy route, which is just about everyone. The best rule of thumb I can give you to avoid scams, poker related or otherwise­—if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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