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So that is where the scammers are?

Have you, like everyone else with a computer, received spam and lots of scam emails? More importantly, have you wondered where the scammers got your email from? Think no longer, for all is revealed in this piece "Digital Dumping and the Global ‘E-Cycling’ Scam" on truthdig:

"The next time you get a scam mail from Nigeria, don’t ask me how the scammer got your information, especially if you don’t know where your old PC is. Yes, the one you gave to a recycler or dropped off with a charity for a tax deduction after “erasing” your data. It turns out that erasing data or reformatting your hard disk does not completely eliminate data.

The Basel Action Network (BAN), a group that monitors the movement of electronic waste around the world, gathered hard-drive memory devices from old computers exported to Nigeria and had them analyzed by forensic data recovery experts. What did it find? It found personal e-mail correspondence, country reports, business letters, banking information, databases, personal letters discussing private legal matters, resum├ęs, disciplinary letters and other cans of worms—all from computers that have been discarded by their owners.

BAN attests that “while many people assume that recyclers will clean their hard drives of data before sending them to reuse facilities, many of the hard drives recovered from computers in Lagos contained a great deal of confidential information.”

About 20 million computers are discarded in the United States annually. The federal government alone disposes of 10,000 computers weekly. The advent of flat-screen monitors and digital technology in televisions and advancements in practically every type of consumer electronics device certainly translates into an increase in e-waste generation.

And have you ever wondered where the discarded equipment goes? “We may think we are doing the right thing by giving our old electronics to a recycler or a free collection event,” says Sarah Westerville, BAN’s e-Stewardship program director. “But many of those businesses calling themselves recyclers are little more than international waste distributors. They take your electronic items for free, or pocket your recycling fee, and then simply load them onto a sea-going container, and ship them to China, India or Nigeria.”

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