Tag Archives: scam

My Days Are Numbered – Someone Wants Me Dead!

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I sometimes wonder if it isn’t a prerequisite that Nigerian scammer wannabes are required to graduate “comedy school”, before they get their scammers license, and are set free to practice their newfound skills on the marginally intelligent.

In an updated twist on an old theme (the infamous 419 scam), Nigerian scammers have upped the ante in a variant of their usual email scam nonsense – the hitman, “I’m gonna kill you” email. These fear-provoking emails (at least they’re intended to be scary), contain a threat that the recipient will be murdered.

Hitman emails are not a new threat – they’ve  been circulating on the Internet since at least early in 2007. They come; they go, and come and go again.

There are many variations of this email, here’s one example received here yesterday. In this particular email, the scammer has bcc’d (blind carbon copied) any number of upcoming murder victims. Seems as if the murder/assassination business is a growth industry.   Smile

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You have been betrayed!!! It’s a pity that this how your life is going to come to an end as your death had already been paid for by someone who is very close to you from all investigations.

I have ordered 3 (three) of my men to monitor every move of you and make sure you are not out of sight till the date of your assassination. According to the report I gets, you seem to be innocent about what you have been accuse but I have no business with that, so that’s why am contacting you to know if truly you are innocent and how much you value your life.

Get back to me if you sure want to live on, ignore this mail only if you feel it’s a joke or just a threat. Don’t forget your days on earth are numbered, so you have the chance to live if only you will comply with me.

WARNING: Tell no one about this mail to you because he or she might just be the person who wants you dead, and if that happens, I will be aware and am going to make sure you DIE instantly.

I will give you every detail of where to be and how to take any actions be it legal or illegal, that’s only when I read from you. You need to stay calm and act unaware of this situation and follow instructions because any move you make that is suspicious; you will DIE as your days are numbered.

On a more serious note:

This scam illustrates the lengths to which these crooks will go to entrap the unwary and gullible. Unfortunately, the description “unwary and gullible”, is easily applied to substantial numbers of Internet users.

As an experienced and cautious Internet user, it’s safe to say that you will not be deceived by this type of clumsy attempt to defraud but, you might be surprised how often reasonably intelligent people are.

So, be kind to your friends, relatives, and associates, particularly those who are new Internet users, and let them know that there is an epidemic of 419 scams on the Internet. In doing so, you help raise the level of protection for all of us.

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Filed under 419 Scam, Cyber Crime, Email

Am I Dead? Investigation.org Wants to Know

imageI woke up this morning to find that I wasn’t dead. That’s kind of a bonus, since there have been mornings when I wasn’t entirely convinced –  if you know what I mean. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Assuming, one is still alive – I suspect that there might be a certain sense of urgency in refuting a rumor that one has passed on to bigger and better things (hopefully, bigger and better things, but……).

In the latest craziness on the spamming scene – Investigation.org (now there’s a catchy name), has crafted a phishing email – loaded with power words – in an effort to provoke the need to act.

First, to prove you’re not DEAD – and subconsciously, who doesn’t have a need to do that? Second, in the happy event you’re not DEAD – the good news is – you’re in line to “receive and confirm your funds without any more stress”. Good news – no?

In an attempt to show the proper degree of sincerity (just in case you’re DEAD, as you read the email), Investigation.org goes that extra mile – “MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE – YOUR JOY AND SUCCESS REMAINS OUR GOAL.”

Text of this unintentionally hilarious email –

URGENT CONFIRMATION NEEDED TODAY/CALL FOR DETAILS

Investigation Bureau office@investigation.org

8:48 AM (5 hours ago)

Attn: Sir/Madame (don’t know if I’m a man or a woman – what gives?)

We are writhing to know if it’s true that you are DEAD? Because we received a notification from one MR. GERSHON SHAPIRO of USA stating that you are DEAD and that you have giving him the right to claim your funds.

He stated you died in a CAR accident. He has been calling us regarding this issue, but we cannot proceed with him until we confirm this within after 7 days of no respond.

Be advised that we have made all arrangements for you to receive and confirm your funds without any more stress, and without any further delay.

All we need to confirm now is you been DEAD Or still Alive. Because this MAN’S message brought shock to our minds. And we just can’t proceed with him until we confirm if this is a reality OR not.

But if it happened we did not hear from you after 7 days, then we say: “MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE” YOUR JOY AND SUCCESS REMAINS OUR GOAL. May the peace of the Lord be with you wherever you may be now.

Your Faithfully,
Mrs. Vivian Martins
Tel: +123-806-731-6969

Email: investigation_departtt1@hotmail.com

OK, I will admit, that to be taken in by a scam email like this, or any scam email for that matter, one would have to be the type of person whose antenna doesn’t pick up all the channels.

Still, when you consider that 90% of all emails are spam – and scams are a big part of that percentage – it’s fair to say – more than a few unlucky souls who’ve lost contact with the mother ship, will fall for this type of scam email.

What a sad reflection on the state of the Internet.

24 Comments

Filed under Cyber Crime, Don't Get Scammed, email scams

Valentine’s “Love” In Your Inbox – Could Be Malware On Your Computer.

imageValentine’s Day will be on us before we know it – so, it’s not too early to get ready for the deluge of  “I love you”, “Wish you were mine”………………., and of course, the customary – “Happy Valentine’s Day” emails.

Hopefully, you will have a Happy Valentine’s Day – but, that happy feeling could be ruined, if you fall victim to the explosion of “spam and scam” that’s aimed at lovers, this time of year –  every year. Much of it designed to take a swing at unsuspecting users machines – leading to a malware infection.

In previous years, starting  just about this time, we saw abnormally high rates of this type of spam and, since cyber crooks are opportunity driven; we’ll see much more of this type of cybercriminal activity this year, I expect.

Perhaps you’re a very cool person who’s significant other is always sending you neat little packages in your email. MP3 files, screensavers, cartoons, YouTube videos, and the like. Could be – you get them so often, that you just automatically click on the email attachment without even thinking. If, you are this type of person, here’s a word of advice – start thinking.

The hook, as it always is in this type of socially engineered email scam, is crafted around exploiting emotions. We’re all pretty curious creatures and, let’s face it, who doesn’t like surprises. I think it’s safe to say, we all find it difficult, if not impossible, to not peek at love notes received via email.

The unfortunate truth is, these spam emails often contain links that deliver advertisements, or worse – redirect the victim to an unsafe site from which malware can be installed on the victim’s computer.

Here’s a tip – If you see something along the lines of – This email contains graphics, so if you don’t see them, view it in your browser – consider very carefully – before you click on the link.

A couple of years ago, a friend, who is an astute and aware computer user, fell for one of these carefully crafted teasing emails. On opening the email, he was taken to a site which had pictures of hearts and puppies, and was then asked to choose which one was for him. You’ll notice that “choosing” involved opening an executable filea cardinal sin.

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Fortunately, he got his geek on in time – common sense prevailed, and he backed out of this site. If he had clicked on this executable file, he would have begun the process of infecting his machine with a Trojan. A Trojan which, in this case, connected to a remote command and control site – (effectively, turning over control of his computer to a cybercriminal). Nasty – I think you’ll agree.

Experienced users are on guard year round for these, and other types of scam/spam email.

You know what to do; right?

Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.

Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.

Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar.

If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web site designed to download malware onto your computer.

Cyber crooks have moved on from using just emails, as a malware delivery vehicle. So, be on the lookout for fraudulent Valentine’s Day greetings in:

Instant Messenger applications.

Twitter.

Facebook.

Chat forums, and so on.

This just in @ 11:56

Uzbekistan Government Cancels Valentine’s Day

That settles it – I’m not giving any Uzbek women my love in protest. Sorry ladies.   🙂

11 Comments

Filed under bots, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Email, Malware Alert, Social Networks, spam

Online PC Care Tells Me–“Remove Onlinepccare Scam From Your Website”

imageThe funny think about the “truth” is – it’s a variable. There are countless versions of the truth (unfortunately), including – “your truth”“my truth” –  and, “the truth”. It seems Online PC Care is questioning “my truth”, and is disputing the contents of an article I wrote earlier this year – Is Online PC Care A Scam? – outlining my highly unsatisfactory personal experience with one of its cold call sales representatives.

In an email (full contents below), Online PC Care states – “the scam posted in your website is seriously hampering our image”.  Now, before I go any further into this, let me say – Yes!! I’m absolutely delighted to hear it!

Online PC Care’s email:

Sir,

It has come to our notice that your website is publishing illegitimate scams against us. This is resulting in a very bad reputation of our company. The concerned person or party who has posted this has no substantial proof in his/her claim. So this is causing a negative effect in the minds of the persons who are visiting your website.

First off let me inform you that our company has a very good reputation in the market, there are lots of satisfied customers who has recommended us to their friends and relatives. In our website, we have numerous testimonials from people all over the world.

In such a case, the scam posted in your website is seriously hampering our image. I suggest that you review our website thoroughly, study the way we operate, and then come to the conclusion whether the scam posted is a legitimate one.

So it is a request on our part to remove the scam, as it is appearing totally ill. It’s a good initiative you have taken to reveal the scams, but when the allegations are made against the company who is so well reputed in the market and very honest in their services, then it becomes troublesome for us to bear it. We are waiting for your reply soon in this matter.

Yours Faithfully,
Amit Roy
Onlinepccare Team

Response breakdown:

The concerned person or party who has posted this has no substantial proof in his/her claim.

The article is a virtual blow-by-blow description of a cold sales call from a Online PC Care representative, who lied throughout the conversation regarding fictitious issues affecting my PC – “the overall presentation was structured in such a way, as to attempt to fraudulently convince me I had serious computer problems, including a non-existing malware infection.”

In fact, the conversation referred to in the article, was the second such conversation I had with an Online PC Care representative in that particular week. I choose to report on the second call only, in order to give your company the benefit of the doubt – such as it was.

First off let me inform you that our company has a very good reputation in the market, there are lots of satisfied customers……

You need to step back for a moment and take a reality break. The reality is – your company’s reputation sucks – big time! It behooves you to do a simple Google search using the keywords “Online PC Care”. I’m sure you’ll not be surprised to see that “Scam”, is the keyword most often associated with your organization.

The following screen capture attachment will save you the effort. You’ll notice in the Google search returns, that the Microsoft Answers site addresses the issue as to whether your company is involved in scamming.

Question – What information could “online pc care” a India cold call extract from my computer? They said they were Microsoft, I allowed them remotely into my computer, to fix a so called problem.

Answer – As you’ve realized – it was a scam!. You now need to notify your bank, and anyone who you’ve had dealings with over the internet, shut down your PC, and do a reformat/reinstall – there is no telling what the scammer has installed on your PC without your knowledge.

I feel a certain sense of accomplishment in seeing that my article is included on the first page. It seems “my truth” has validity. BTW, I’m curious to know if you’ve requested that Microsoft take down this inflammatory reference to your company. If not, then why not?

Google search inquiry – first page.

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Let’s not stop there though. If you’re curious as to what your reputation is, as determined by the WOT (Web of Trust) online community, then you’ll be interested in the attached WOT reputation rating screen shot.

It couldn’t get much worse – could it?

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FYI, I’ve included in this response a few (a very few), article references which investigate Pecon Software (your umbrella company).

The Guardian newspaper – Police crack down on computer support phone scam: An article which reports that Indian authorities shut down 19 websites following complaints from the UK and elsewhere. Here’s an excerpt –

Among those shut was supportonclick.com, registered to Pecon Software, a firm based in Kolkata. The company has now opened another support website, called onlinepccare.com, which is the subject of numerous online complaints about cold calling, “bullying”, and claims that the caller is from Windows PC care.

The Guardian newspaper: PC virus’ phone scam: supportonclick company insists it is innocent. Here’s an excerpt –

After being told to download a program that handed over remote control of their computer so the caller could install “fixes”, the PC users were told of the £185 charge for subscription to “the preventative service”. But the “fixed” computers never had any problems, and the value of the service was dubious.

Unfortunately, typical computer users pay little attention to warnings, and alerts designed to warn then against sophisticated scams. On top of which, consumers are easily manipulated, by well trained and persistent cold callers (but you know that), into ignoring safety precautions.

I’m glad to have received your take-down request, since it provides me with another opportunity to shine a light on the dark spaces in which parasitic organizations, such as yours, thrive.

Just to be clear – the ship has sailed, and I have no intention of retracting anything I’ve written regarding Online PC Care, or honoring your request for a take-down.

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19 Comments

Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Opinion, Windows Tips and Tools

Kate Middleton Scam – Working Like A Charm!

imageIf you’re a regular reader here, I don’t have to belabor the point and remind you, that significant numbers of Internet users are often unaware of the very real dangers that search engine results hold for their safety, security and identity.    You’re well aware that many are blissfully unaware of the hidden dangers on the Internet, and seem to have a natural tendency to “just click”.

Here’s a perfect example.

Several days ago, I posted an article – Kate Middleton Nude – As If! – knowing full well, that the article would draw scores of careless users to it – all looking for a titillating experience. A perfect opportunity to teach an Internet safety lesson. I wasn’t disappointed, as the following screen shot of search engine stats from this site, illustrates.

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Hundreds of additional search terms (too many to show), included – catherine middleton nude, kate middleton revealing pictures, william and kate nude, kate middleton naked, kate middleton naughty photos, a picture of kate meddliston naked, kate middleton sextape ……..”kate middleton” nude or breast or bikini – I think you get the picture.

By the end of the day, yesterday – 2,000+ potential victims visited this post…

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and an additional 900+ so far, today.

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All of this reminds me of an article I wrote in July 2009 – Hey Sucker – Read This! Michael Jackson’s Not Dead! – which drew 1,000s of visitors. Most of whom were unaware that the events surrounding Jackson’s death were being leveraged by cyber crooks to drop malware on unsuspecting surfers machines.

A similar scenario is being played out here. Cyber crooks are using, as they always have, a provocative and tempting attention grabber as a hook to reel in the unwary and undereducated Internet surfer.

Since this site has a high Google Page Rank rating, the search string “kate middleton nude”, is in second place in Google search results out of 3 Million plus. I’d like to think, that those lucky few, who clicked on – Kate Middleton Nude – As If! – have a developed a heightened sense of awareness of cyber criminal manipulation of current events.

I’d like to think that – but, I doubt it. I’m convinced that the potential victims who clicked on this article, went on clicking elsewhere in their hunt for the non-existent. Without a doubt, some are now dealing with malware infections.

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Filed under Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Safety, internet scams, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Safe Surfing, Windows Tips and Tools

Is Online PC Care A Scam?

imageIt finally happened! I finally got an unsolicited phone call from Online PC Care, a company which advertises – “instant support for all your computer related technical problems is just a click away” and “Online PC Care is the right place to resolve all your technical problems.”

I was well aware that many consider this type of online service (Online PC Care is just one of many companies saturating this market), to be an outright scam. Nevertheless, accepting the phone call and working through the sales presentation (which is effectively what it’s all about), was an opportunity to engage with a self described “technical expert”, that I couldn’t pass up.

Based on errors in Windows Event Viewer (which Charlie, calling from India, walked me through), the diagnosis indicated my PC was “pretty sick” – infested with malware, and pretty much ready for the scrap heap.

But luckily, there was a solution to this sad state of affairs – the purchase of a plan from Online PC Care – ranging in price from $120 (6 month Bronze Plan), to $200 for the (12 month Ultimate Plan). Or, a more specific Incident Based (Malware) Plan.

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Click graphic to expand

Event Viewer system logs can look pretty scary to an average user despite the fact, that the event recorded is often insignificant. Here’s an example – the Event Viewer, in the following graphic, indicates that the Volume Shadow Copy Service on this machine failed to start on boot this morning.

This is not an unexpected event – given that I have disabled  this service. If the Event Viewer didn’t show this error, then, I’d have something to worry about.

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Charlie, who was extremely polite throughout the phone call, focused on a more specific error reported by the Event Viewer – a display driver crash (numerous crashes, in fact). Charlie, then laid out a convincing scenario in which he led me, step by step, into agreeing that the crashes were directly related to multiple malware infections.

Malware infections that could easily be removed – if I agreed to allow remote access to my machine, provided credit card details, and purchased either a Duration Based Plan, or an “Incident Based Plan at a cost of $35.

It took all the patience I could muster, as I was led through the process, not to inform Charlie that the crashes were caused by a hardware acceleration bug in Firefox 4. My tongue is still sore from the number of times I bit down.

Eventually, rather than have to listen to the sales presentation again and again (a continuing focus of the phone call), I let Charlie know that he was full of s*it, and referred him to this Blog. Strangely, Charlie took the subterfuge very well, and disconnected only after apologizing profusely.

It’s a fair assumption that the number of average computer users being taken advantage of by unscrupulous online organizations like Online PC Care, has to be considerable. The sales presentation is slick, the “proof” of computer malfunction is convincing since the “malfunctions” are readily apparent in the Event Viewer. What could be more convincing than a series of neatly packaged Warnings, and Errors?

To add credibility, many of these online technical problem solvers will misrepresent themselves as either being associated with Microsoft or, working directly for Microsoft.

In this particular case, Online PC Care did not misrepresent their position and readily supplied the name, web site address, and the location from which the phone call originated.

That’s little consolation though, since the overall presentation was structured in such a way, as to attempt to fraudulently convince me I had serious computer problems, including a non-existing malware infection.

It’s discouraging to think that legitimate online computer technicians, who provide a much needed and valuable service, could be easily tainted by the number of scam artists who are now active in this field.

As always, I ask that you as an experienced computer user, be kind to your friends, relatives, and associates, particularly those who are new computer users, and let them know that this type of scam has reached epidemic proportions.

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Filed under computer repair, Don't Get Scammed, Interconnectivity, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Remote Tech Support, Safe Online Shopping Tips, Windows Tips and Tools

Valentine’s Day = Cyber Crooks And Malware Love

Love in Your Inbox – Malware on Your Computer

imageIt’s only a few weeks until Valentine’s day, so it’s not to early to get ready for the deluge of  “I love you”, “Wish you were mine”, and of course the proverbial “Happy Valentine’s Day” emails.

Hopefully, you will have a Happy Valentine’s Day, but you won’t if you fall victim to the burst of spam that is aimed at lovers, at this time of year, every year. Much of it designed to drop malware on unsuspecting users machines.

Like clockwork, spammers and cyber crooks ramp up the volume of spam emails aimed at unsuspecting users, just prior to this day, culturally set aside as a “celebration of love”.

In previous years, starting just about this time, we saw abnormally high rates of this type of spam, and since cyber crooks are “opportunity driven”, we can expect much more of this type of cybercriminal activity this year.

Maybe you’re a very cool person who’s significant other is always sending you neat little packages in your email. Things like MP3 files, screensavers, cartoons, YouTube videos and the like. You get them so often, that you just automatically click on the email attachment without even thinking. If you are this type of person, here’s a word of advice – start thinking.

The hook, as it always is in this type of socially engineered email scam, is based on exploiting our emotions. The fact is, we are all pretty curious creatures and let’s face it, who doesn’t like surprises. I think it’s safe to say, we all find it difficult, if not irresistible, to peek at love notes received via email.

The unfortunate truth is, these spam emails often contain links that deliver advertisements, or worse redirect the victim to an unsafe site where malware can be installed on the victim’s computer.

Last year at this time, a friend, who is an astute and aware computer user, fell for one of these carefully crafted teasing emails. On opening the email, he was taken to a site which had pictures of hearts and puppies, and was then asked to choose which one was for him.

image

Fortunately, common sense prevailed and he backed out of this site. If he had clicked on this site, he would have begun the process of infecting his machine with a Trojan, which can connect to remote command and control sites.

Unfortunately, being smart is often NOT enough to protect yourself. Experienced users are on guard year round for these, and other types of scam/spam email.

You know what to do, right?

Don’t open emails that come from untrusted sources.

Don’t run files that you receive via email without making sure of their origin.

Don’t click links in emails. If they come from a known source, type them on the browser’s address bar.

If they come from an untrusted source, simply ignore them, as they could take you to a web site designed to download malware onto your computer.

Cyber crooks have moved on from using just emails as a malware delivery vehicle. So, be on the lookout for fraudulent Valentine’s Day greetings in:

Instant Messenger applications.

Twitter

Facebook

Chat forums, etc.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

7 Comments

Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, email scams, FaceBook, Instant Messenger Safety Tips, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, spam, Twitter, Windows Tips and Tools