Why the word 'mango' might spell trouble online

There are certain words that online scammers use to suck the unsuspecting into their scams. "Acai" is one. "Mango" is another. A new study also suggests that Americans are generally more susceptible to scams than they'll admit.

This Mango is not a scam. This Mango has Kate Moss. Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

At some point in every one of our days, we are moved by particular words.

We hear the word "love" directed at us and we melt. We hear "downsizing" and we shiver. And when someone says "Idol," for many what appears (at least this week) is the image of a 63-year-old rock star's moobs.

But what does the word "mango" do when you see or hear it? How about "acai"?

A fascinating--no, wait--depressing new study from PC Tools and the Ponemon Institute offers data that depicts Americans as highly gullible to specific words they see online.

At the broadest--and most disheartening--level, more than half of respondents to this survey said that they would provide personal or credit card information when offered one of these mouth-watering possibilities: An online prize, free antivirus software, or a get-rich quick opportunity.

Almost half said they would also give of their information when confronted with the offer of a free movie or an online shopping registration.

But some might find the keywords that signal online scams to be especially tormenting. PC Tools-- which, you will be stunned to hear, exists to protect people from online scams--offered a certain insight into scamming vocabulary.

These are the sorts of words its software looks for when it seeks out evildoers: "home," "work," "subscribe," "bill," "charges."

"Weight," too, is a word that sets off PC Tools' red lights. As are "fast," "burn," and "fat." Yes, "burn fat fast" is a set of words behind which lurks almost-certain deception.

However, it seems that "acai" and, of all things, "mango" are also words that tend to signal illicit tendencies.

Both words are associated, apparently, with diets and, therefore, diet scams. Indeed, diet-based lures--together with temptations involving working from home and mobile phones--are among the most prevalent of online scams.

Clearly, America is full of people who don't want to go to an office, fear becoming obese, and are desperate to pay as little as possible for their cell phones.

However, these researchers seem to imagine that Americans are ridiculously vulnerable to the impossible online promise. In this research, 62 percent of respondents said their friends would, they felt, hand over credit card information when confronted with the idea of getting rich quick or, indeed, working from home.

But these researchers are no mean psychological inducers. For, Richard Clooke, PC Tools' Online Security Expert, offered in a press release: "We generally find that when people are answering for others they are more inclined to reveal their true behavior."

So this weekend if you happen to see a message online that says "Burn fat faster while working from home and consuming acai and mango and get a free mobile phone subscription," it is, quite possibly, a false promise.

However, please feel safe if you adore the highly affordable (and remarkably slimming) clothing at Mango. You know this is not a scam. Just look at the Mango home page. There's Kate Moss. A rolling scam gathers no Moss.

 

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