Notorious e-mail scam takes a lower priority

Question: I have been using a government e-mail address to report the infamous Nigerian scam. Now, for about a week or more, the mail bounces. Do you have any idea what this is about?

Answer: At one time the Secret Service publicized an e-mail address for reports by victims of what they called "Advance Fee Fraud," one form of which was called the Nigerian 419 scam, in which scammers offer a windfall of cash for some advance fee. The fees go on and on, of course, and the big money never comes. The Secret Service even opened an office in Nigeria and tried to seek out scammers in their home base.

The e-mail address is no longer publicized on the Secret Service site, and instead victims of the scam are encouraged to call the local Secret Service office.

The site also mentions that senders of e-mail are difficult to track, and that sending such an e-mail is not in itself a crime. So it sounds like they're not interested in seeing e-mails. For details, go to

Q: My new laptop has Windows Vista, and the touchpad is driving me crazy! Whenever I try to move the cursor horizontally or vertically it begins to scroll the page and I don't want it to do that.

A: The newest touchpads have gotten trickier at the same time they've gotten more versatile, with sometimes a drag in one part of the pad producing a different result.

Usually this "virtual scroll" feature will assume you want to scroll if you drag near the edges of the pad, but the feature doesn't work in all programs.

For those who can't stand it and want the touchpad to behave like it did before, try going to Start, Control Panel, Hardware and Sound and change the options for scrolling. You might find Touchpad options in an icon near the clock on the Task Bar, too.

Q: My Caps Lock toggles every few seconds in all software, so creating documents is almost impossible. Any ideas?

A: I would say you need a new keyboard. They're not terribly expensive, but try shaking it a little and maybe blowing under the keys to see if you can dislodge any crumbs or bits of paper that could have gotten lodged in there.


John Kopf of Cupertino, Calif., wrote about the letter from a reader "trapped" by Web sites that would not let her use the back button. I suggested using the arrow next to the back button to return back several steps; as Kopf notes though, the site might have opened a new window. "A new window has no history, so there's no going 'back' from it," he notes. In that case you'd want to close the window to see where you were earlier. Also, in Firefox and the latest Internet Explorer, you might be in a new "tab," so to return you'd have to click on the previous page's "tab" near the top of the window.

Tim Henderson is database editor for the Miami Herald's computer-assisted reporting team. Send questions to