Grandpa Grump Brews Some More Hemlock:
And A Merry Scamming Christmas To You Too!
Wally Lee Parker
I’ve been finding email notices in my ‘junk email’ box saying I’ve new messages, comments, and friends requests posted on Facebook. Said emails invite me to click on one of several active links to enter Facebook directly from the email. When I — in a moment of distracted weakness — did so, my antiviral program screamed bloody blue murder (and in this alone the damn thing proved itself worth every penny). When I left my email program via the normal route and checked on Facebook, I found no such messages, comments, or new ‘friends’ requests. Uh-huh. That’s what you get for dropping your guard for just a second.
After its little tantrum, my antiviral software told me that the active links in this particular spurious notification wanted to redirect me to a “malicious URL” pasted on a hard-drive that booted-up somewhere in the Russian Federation. For quite some time I’ve had my primary domain filter blocking anything with a Russian suffix. Embedding the links to this malicious URL inside an otherwise legitimate appearing email is just a simple means of bypassing such “top-level domain” filters. Doubtless the several kindly offers this email made to links me directly to Facebook would have opened a page into which I would have had to type my Facebook password. After having done so the “malicious URL” would doubtless have sent me on to my Facebook page via the normal route. This appearance of normalcy would have given the unidentified Russian time to hijack my Facebook account, change my account number to keep me from locking him out, and then spam like the dickens until Facebook closed my/his/her page down.
Just to reinforce this little adventure, the next day I found a notice in my junk email folder stating “You Authorized a Payment of $102.90 USD.” The indicator below the email heading stated that the email was from “PayPal.” I opened the letter and found what did indeed appear to be the usual type of notice PayPal sends out after a charge is made to my account. Only two problems. First, PayPal is on my safe sender list, so anything from PayPal should automatically drop into my safe folder. And second, the sending email address did not clearly indicate that it came from PayPal (though this is not a sure thing either).
Not wanting to totally flummox my antiviral by stressing it two days in a row, I left my email provider and entered PayPal in the appropriate manner. I opened my account and found everything correct. No charge of $102.90 from “In Vogue Inc.” for wigs to be sent to “Janet Grist” of “Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.” In other words, when the notice suggested I open the handily provided link titled “log in to your account,” if I’d done so I likely would have ended up on another PayPal look-alike page were I would have been prompted to enter my password. And that would have pretty damn well been that.
It’s unlikely that the two above scams are related as far as perpetrators are concerned. But — Christmas fatigue aside — it’s a reminder to never trust any unsolicited emails that request you enter a password. To never enter a password through any links conveniently provided within an email. And to always enter websites you intend to do business with by a means you know is safe. If any received emails claim you have an important or urgent account message somewhere, enter the account in question by your customary route and check. If a copy of the urgent email isn’t there, it was a scam.
And then of course I received another one of those urgent messages from the “Windows Live Team.” And this notice — with an abundance of Christmas spirit — carried the source and return address of revbrown@XXX.XXXX. I’m assuming that was a sorry pass at felonious wit; referencing “Walking in a Winter Wonderland’s” Reverend Brown — who of course these nincompoops, though hearing the song five hundred times in the last thirty days, were too doped up to realize was referred to as a Parson Brown, not Reverend Brown.
Anyway, on the subject line of the usual not quite right facsimile of an actual email from Windows, they had written — all in uppercase to reinforce the urgency — “DGTFX VIRUS NOTIFICATION ON YOUR ACCOUNT……2011.”
The body of the message read …
A DGTFX Virus has been detected in your folders. Your email account has to be upgraded to our new Secured DGTFX anti-virus 2011 version to prevent damages to our web log and to your important files. Click your reply tab, Fill the columns below and send back to us or your email account will be terminated to avoid spread of the virus.
Full name ……………..
User name …………….
Reconfirm Password ….
Date of Birth ………….
Note that your password will be encrypted with 1024-bit RSA keys for your password safety.
All MSN and Hotmail Users Should Reply Now!!!
Failure to do this will immediately render your Web-email address deactivated from our database.
Thank you for your co-operation.
Warning code :ID67565434
MSN and Hotmail Account Support.
Though it’s not my habit to disregard copyright notices, in this case I’m afraid I have. If the copyright owner(s) of the above material would care to send my attorneys the following data — their email address, their mailing address, a copy of their lawyer’s business card, a copy of their banker’s business card, and a bank account number to which any royalty remittances for the reproduction of above said copyright material can be forwarded, my attorneys will take care of this matter. My attorneys have cautioned me that until the above information is provided and confirmed, I will not be able to legally communicate in a direct manner with the above claimed copyright owner(s) — meaning all such communication will need to be through my attorneys. If the above copyright owner(s) wish to submit a violation of copyright claim, or to talk directly with my attorneys, they will need to send a modest, fully refundable retainer — along with the above noted data — to the law offices of Swaker, Portacallus, and Malvoy. The law offices’ email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Their copyright owner’s or owners’ co-operation will be most appreciated.
And lastly, this appeal to do mucho good during this Christmas season — which is not to say, me being me, I don’t get similar appeals all year ‘round.
This appeal to my more altruistic instincts reads …
My Dearest One,
This is Miss Marina Sanzel from Trinidad & Tobago. I am writing from the hospital in Ivory Coast, therefore this mail is very urgent as you can see that I’m dying in the hospital which I don’t know what tomorrow will be. I was told by my doctor that I was poisoned and has got my liver damaged and can only live for some months.
I inherited some money ($2.5 Million) from my late father and I cannot think of anybody trying to kill me apart from my step mother in order to inherit the money, she is an Ivorian by nationality.
I want you to contact my servant with this information below:
Servant Augustine Maranatha.
Address: Rue De La Princess L/G XXX Cocody
Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.
Tel+225 663 XXX XX
He will give you the documents of the money and will direct you to a well known lawyer that I have appointed to him, the lawyer will assist you to change the documents of the money to your name to enable the bank transfer the money to you.
This is the favor I need when you have gotten the money:
(1) Give 20% of the money to my servant Augustine as he has been there for me through my illness and I have promised to support him in life. I want you to take him along with you to your country and establish him as your son.
(2) Give 30% of the money to handicap people and charity organizations, then the remaining one is yours. Note: This should be a code between you and my Servant Augustine in this transaction “Hospital” any mail from him, the barrister he will direct you to, without this code “Hospital” is not from the barrister, Augustine, the bank or myself as I don’t know what will happen to me in the next few hours.
(3) The lawyer’s name is Mc(sic) Lambert Adams. And Let Augustine send you his International passport to be sure of whom you are dealing with. Augustine is so little therefore guide him. And if I don’t hear from you, I will look for another person or an organization.
May Almighty God bless you and use you to accomplish my wish.
Pray for me always.
Miss Marina Sanzel
What on Earth can I say to such a heartfelt appeal to join this poor (well, maybe not so poor) woman in her last earthly effort to place her young servant in the guardianship of a total stranger while engaging with a lawyer to commit fraud — again with someone known to her only as “My Dearest One?” Let me think.
First off Marina, I’m a little confused since your writing from a hospital room in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire but the ‘top level domain’ name on your email address is ‘br’ — which stands for Brazil. (Which has now mysteriously become another of those blocked domain names on my computer.)
I understand that by doing all this for you I’d be raking in — as near as I can estimate — a mere 1.25 million dollars (which I’m assuming is U.S. dollars). Very conservatively invested that would only generate in the order of 60 to 70 thousand dollars a year while still maintaining my original investment — which makes it hardly worth my trouble. Now if your estate had been worth maybe twice that much I might have been tempted. As it is, your liver hasn’t left you the time to scrounge up the extra money, so I’m afraid we won’t be able to do business.
I do know of an organization that has proven an effective advocate for people who have more money than time to spend it, and are also adept at finding ways to transfer those funds to various out of the way places. I suggest you send your appeal to The Republican National Committee — email addresses for their various departments are readily available online. And they’re always looking for some new way to be charitable to the rich.
With that I intend to put myself to bed — and hope to dream of hemlock laced sugarplums being force fed to all the miscreant spammers, scammers, and other loathsome bad-list buggers as they’re being slowly lowered into scalding vats of boiling plum pudding. After all, tis the season everyone should get what they deserve.
P.S: My New Year’s resolution is to go through all my passwords and increase them to random strings of upper and lower case numbers, letters, and symbols at least 14 places long. It’s the least I can do to insure many a Merry Christmas to come.