Marketing by terror

I’ve mentioned Android webjacking before, but here’s another example. Things like this are not usually “viruses” on your handheld device, but rather malicious code embedded in a legitimate website by unscrupulous advertisers.

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-16

 

First, this exploit makes your phone buzz like a hornet that’s just been pinched in a vise, and locks your browser. No going back. Second, vulgar sites? No, actually this popped up when I was trying to leave a comment at retailcomic.com. I trust the site not to hide exploits like this on purpose.

 

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-35

The claims on these “warnings,” along with being written in questionable English, are absolute lies: “If the problem can not be resolved immediately , the viruses will spy your phone, and destroy your SIM card, delete all your contacts.”

Now I’m just following the trail to see who’s behind this.

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-04-49

Looks like someone is hawking an app (surprise, surprise):

screenshot_2017-02-16-11-05-09

A comment at the app’s site complained, and the developer responded; notice the salutation “Dear,” usually seen on Nigerian scam emails but certainly a red flag that the app developer is not a native English speaker.

 

Screenshot_2017-02-16-11-05-51.png

Despite the apology and denial of malicious intent, I would be very suspicious of apps that are advertised in this way.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Income by deception: they’re not even trying any more.

Have a look at a few screenshots from my Android a couple of days ago:

 

screenshot_2017-02-14-12-28-22

Hilarious joke collection. OK, I’m always up for a new laugh or two. But beware: popup ads like this are rarely honest or ethical, and often sleazy and deceptive. Let’s see:

screenshot_2017-02-14-12-30-26

Starting to smell a rat, but let’s just go down to the next level:

screenshot_2017-02-14-05-59-17

Well, the joke’s on me – and anyone who clicks these links. This transcends the concept of clickbait, which usually offers some kind of content in order to get people to the pages where ads are displayed. Now they’re eliminating the middleman altogether.

And people wonder why fake news gets such traction.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Beware of “Pet Care” texts or emails

Scam Alert-stamp

Over at a post about working over a Craigslist scammer, I got a few comments about a particular scammer that’s working the “pet care” angle. I thought I’d respond to his email address and see how it works.

I wrote to jamesbrenard1@gmail.com: “Someone said you were interested in pet care. Where are you located?”

Here how the drone responded:

Hello and how are you doing?

Glad to read from you and since you were refereed by CARE, I feel comfortable discussing this opening as it concerns the comfort of my fur babies who happens to be the only babies i have presently but hoping for that to change soon. My name is James and my wife’s name is Maha, I contacted Care i needed a Caregiver so am trusting their judgement. I am relocating to your neighborhood from Canada. I recently got a contract with a company on a private research job and i’ll be in charge. My wife is 6 months pregnant, she was in a little accident few weeks ago so am a little indisposed and this is going to be a big change in my family so we want everything to move smoothly and stress-free, so i am going to have a limited time for our fur babies and this is where i hope you come in and help.

I need someone to work 4 hours in a day for an 3 days in the week, someone that is mature whether young or old, loves pets, reliable, attentive, honest and punctual. You will be taking care of 2 Dogs, Billy a yr old Australian Terrier and Misty a 4 years old German
Shepard for any three days of your choice excluding Sundays and will have to take them on a walk at least once a week, give them a bath, brush their hair and make them comfortable while we are away. I can handle the feeding but the rest i wont be able to do, so you can work for us as long as you want. I plan on getting 2 fishes on the other hand; one is a Fancy Goldfish, while the other is an Auratus Cichlid, we’ve never had fishes but i wish to have the very best care for them so i’ll need advise on names that you think will befit them. I trust you can do this for us.

Our arrival date will be on the 28th of January and we’ll be having a face to face meet on the 29th the day after our arrival. I will be offering you $415 weekly,and also will be needing your services for 4 hours at any suitable time of yours. Bonus will be paid if there are any overtime, If you believe you are fit for this position in as much you will prove yourself to be a reliable and good person, I will instruct my financial clerk to pay for the first week before our arrival so as to secure your service in advance and to show our commitment on our part. 

My financial clerk will require this information to be able to make out a check to you;

Full Name:
Full address with Apt Number:
City, State and Zip code:
Phone number:

I await to read from you soon.

Warmest regards

Note a couple of things:

  1. This bozo has no idea where I live. Even if legitimate, he or she could be living in Fairbanks, Alaska, and I might be responding from Key West, Florida.
  2. The promise of advance payment. Anyone who “bites” would be sent a check of this nature: Secret Shopper Bogus Check
  3. The next thing that would happen is that the criminal would send too much money and ask the victim to wire a large part of it to someone else via Western Union. Of course, the check is bogus, your money is gone, and you’re on the hook to the bank for the full amount – including possibly facing criminal charges of your own for negotiating false documents. That doesn’t happen often, but some banks and police departments are anal-retentive enough that it has happened, and will probably happen more often in the future.

I sent the drone a fake name but a real address… and never heard back. I wrote back once saying “Hey, what happened? You were going to send me a check to get Pet Care started. Did you change your mind,? Should I still be looking?” but never had a response. Either he somehow twigged that he was being played for a fool, or simply had moved on to a new victim.

At any rate, watch out for this individual and any others using the same ploy.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

No, Virginia, “brain booster” pills don’t work.

I have inveighed many times against the deceptive nature of affiliate marketing. It’s getting worse all the time, and otherwise legitimate entities are promoting it by allowing anybody and their capybara to inject ads onto their websites. It’s all about the revenue.

Newser™ used to be one of my favorite news aggregator sites, but my enthusiam began waning when their site became jugged with deceptive advertising, and my patience finally snapped when they added code to create popup tabs and randomly switch me to unwanted articles.

Advertorial.jpg

This one, which I had mentioned before, popped up again. It infuriates me, because people are going to believe this camel ejecta, and waste their money on worthless garbage. Instead of “BrainStorm Elite” or “IQ+,” it’s now called “Intelleral” – and it’s not much more than what they flufferously designate as WGCP (whole green coffee powder), meaning NoDoz™ would be just as effective because it’s nothing more than caffeine.

Take note:

  • Stephen Hawking does not say anything about Intelleral or anything else doubling your IQ.
  • The advertisement server is smart enough to know that I’m browsing from Maine, and it injects that state into the headline.
  • Anderson Cooper’s interview has nothing to do with any products.
  • I believe that Intelleral is worthless garbage, and its manufacturers are – in my humble opinion – criminal scum.

So let’s say you’re curious and google something like “intelleral scam.”

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Take note that almost every one of these results is the result of an affiliate marketer’s campaign. The red WOT circles are also a good indication that these websites are deceptive and potentially dangerous.

An example: the last link on the list purports to warn you about the side effects and cost of Intelleral. And it’s nothing more than a page promoting the product:

intelleral-ad-1

How much more deceptive can you get than this? Why would you buy a product that’s so dishonestly promoted, even if it worked… which it doesn’t.

One customer wasn’t too happy… among countless:

This product is a scam
By [redacted], Canton, NC, Jan 6, 2017
I ordered Intelleral due to the wonderful advertisement and testimonies by several famous people. I have taken this for a couple of weeks with no noticeable positive effect.

I was checking my credit card this morning and noticed two different charges pending for the two trial items I ordered from the Intelleral website. I did not request future orders. I was billed $64.95 and then $69.95 (charges pending).I contacted my credit card company to dispute this.

Do not order from these people.

You notice her complaint about the extra charges? That’s standard operating procedure for these slimy bottom-feeders. Have a look at their “terms,” which you have to click through to read:

2.1 By placing your order you will be receiving a 14 day evaluation of for the price of $4.95! We stand by our satisfaction Guarantee and our friendly customer service. You will also be enrolling into our convenient auto ship program once your evaluation expires. You understand that you are subscribing to a monthly shipment program and you will be charged $89.99 per month starting 14 days from today and every 30 days thereafter unless cancelled. You also understand that you can cancel at any time, subject to the provisions of section 3, without further obligation by calling 888-298-0291, Monday – Friday between the hours of 9am-5pm MST. Your transaction will appear on your credit card statement as “”. You will recieve your package within 2-5 business days of each payment. Please allow 2-5 Business days for your initial Bottle.

There’s a lot more if you have the stomach to read it. You thought you were paying $4.95 for a trial, but you were actually obligating yourself to shell out $90 bucks a month for this snake oil, and good luck getting a refund from these weasels.

Best solution: TURN AROUND, RUN AWAY, DON’T LOOK BACK. Do not buy this or anything like it that sounds too good to be true, because it is.

Next of Kings

I haven’t got Nigerian spam for a long time. I changed email addresses, and Gmail is really good at filtering these things out. That said, I saw one today as I was cleaning out my spam box that made me grin.

Most of it is the same old recycled garbage; this one kindly includes a list of fraudsters that I must immediately stop dealing with if I am to “get my fund of 5 million dollar.”

It has been proposed that these scam letters are deliberately written in horrid English to trap only the most gullible, but I haven’t completely bought that theory. A lot of these scam letters are boilerplated and must be passed (or sold) from scammer to scammer. In my past experience, a lot of the Lads from Lagos don’t even speak English but are using templates and auto-responders, because even if I respond to their hook with a “sod off, mate” they come back with something like “thanking you for your esteeming response, your fund is ready! Just send the $299.00 US Dollars Only fee for processing…”

Oh well. This one’s out there, just in case anyone Googles for it.


Attention Inheritor,

I am Mrs.Melina Belak, a US citizen, I am one of those people that took part in receiving Inheritance funds and Lottery funds from European banks even from many lottery organizers, ATM card and Compensation funds etc few month’s ago and they refused to pay me, I had paid different fees paid out while in the United States trying to get my funds from those banks, ATM CARD And Compensation and lottery organizers but all to no avail. I decided to travel to West Afrian Nigeria, with all my compensation documents, and I was directed by the IMF Director to contact the reconciliatory Barrister Frank Daniel who is also an attorney, A USA citizen and a member of the UNITED NATIONS & IMF COMPENSATION AWARD COMMITTEE currently working with IMF in the WEST NIGERIA and I contacted him and he explained everything to me. He said whoever is contacting us through emails are fake. Barrister Frank Daniel personally directed me on how to claim my Inheritance or Lottery payment.

Right now I have received my compensation funds of $5 million dollars Moreover, Barrister Frank Daniel, showed me the full information of those that are yet to receive their Inheritance or Lottery payment and I saw your email address as one of the beneficiaries, that is why I am contacting you to stop dealing with those people, they are not with your fund, they are only making money out of you.

I will personally advise you to contact Barrister Frank Daniel, he will assist you as he is a very religious man with the fear of God.

Compensation Award Office.

Name: Barrister Frank Daniel
Private Email: barfrankdaniel12@gmail.com
Office Email Address: Compensationoffice@yeah.net
Phone Number: +1 (315) 294-0440

Listed below are the name of fraudsters and banks behind the non release of your funds that I managed to sneak out for your kind perusal which they are more with out your acknowledgment .

1) Mr. James B. Comey Jr
2) Ms. Carman L. Lapointe
3) Mr Ban Ki-moon
4) Mr. Dan Rochas (I.M.F)
5) Mrs. Tanner Williams
6) Robert S. Mueller, III
7) Mr Jim Ovia: Zenith Bank Plc In Nigeria
8) Dr Godwin Emefiele
9) Ibrahim Mustapha
10) Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde
11) Micheal Edward
12) Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
13) Mrs. Sherry Williams
14) Mr Wilson Norman
15) Dr. Patrick Aziza Deputy Governor – Policy / Board Member
16) Barrister Ucheuzo Williams
17) Miss Donna Gwen
18) Frank Edward (ATM DEPARTMENT)
18) John Rob
19) rita johnson
20) Ms Becky Donald
21) mr john will
22) ms.rita johnson
23) mr. walker dickson
24) Peter Michael
25) George Mankarious
26) Emile Mutambo
27) Dr. Robert Mooma
28) David Weyne Mutango
29) James Morgan
30) Larry Moore
31) Gloria Momoh
32) Col. John Muguh
33) Uiku Mavzer
34) Eng. John Momoh
35) Dr. Aaron Momodu
36) Barrister Michael Moss
37) Efcc Chairman. Ibrahim Musterfa Magu
38) Miss Esther Emmanuel

CONFIRM YOUR DETAIL BELOW TO AVOID WRONG DELIVERY OF YOUR FUND WORTH $5 MILLION DOLLAR.

1. Full Name…………………………….
2. Residential Address………………………..
3. Phone Number……………………….
4. Fax Number…………….
5. Next of Kings…………. Charles, William, and George, if I’m not mistaken
6. Sex………..
7. Age…………………..
8. Nationality………….
9. Country………………….
10.scan copy Id………..

Please reconfirm the above address to avoid any wrong delivery of your fund s far.

You really have to stop dealing with those people that are contacting you and telling you that your fund is with them, it is not in anyway with them, they are only taking advantage of you and they will take all from you until you have nothing to Give. The only money I paid after I met Barrister Frank Daniel was just $350 for the Endorsement Fee, take note of that if you are not in any way related to this funds do not reply.

Thank You and Be Blessed.
Mrs.Melina Belak
2507 Catalina Dr, Orlando,
Florida, 32805 United States  (Currently an empty home for sale)
SORRY FOR THIS MESSAGE in spam IF FOUND, PLEASE MOVE TO INBOX (right…)

Be careful out there. In case you hadn’t gotten the message yet, there is no money for you in Nigeria. There is no fund. Never send money via Western Union or Money Card or any other way to an unknown person, no matter how good it sounds. You will lose your money, and you will be giving your personal information to criminals.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Business Loan Scam

I apologize to my readers if this blog sounds like a broken record at times, but the dangers from scammers and fraudsters is real – and the more information available, the more likely that someone doing a web search will come across it and save their money or their information.

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I’ve talked often about robocalls; here’s a good article from Consumer Affairs.

“[Scammers] have raked in millions of dollars with schemes like the business loan pitch. The recorded greeting says something like “congratulations, your business has been approved for a $250,000 loan.” If you stay on the phone long enough to talk to a live person, that person will try to get information from you that can be used to steal your identity.”

Got one of these just now. I pressed “1” to find out how the scam worked, and got someone who was virtually incomprehensible; he sounded like a Dane with his mouth full of Knödel.¹ His first question, in rapid-fire Mongolian, was “What is the annual revenue of your company?” When I asked him who was offering me this loan, he hung up.

Be careful out there. If it’s a robocall, it’s almost certainly a scam.


¹ A Dane sounds like a Norwegian with his mouth full of Knödel (which is a very heavy, thick dumpling). So this gives you an idea of what I was hearing.

Protect yourself from ransomware

It’s still big business for crooks, most of whom have switched from the “Nigerian Prince” letters because it’s a far easier way of generating money.

your-money-or-your-data

An employee gets an official-looking email about an invoice or a spreadsheet. They click on the link. Boom: all your data is encrypted, and you have to pay 2 Bitcoin (about $1,500.00) to get it back (and sometimes you don’t.) You lose business, and the ultimate cost ends up being much higher.

There are two main lines of defense against ransomware: Backup and Education

1 – Backup

If you’re not backing up your files, you’re vulnerable to data loss, which can cost you big time.  Many people back up their files manually to an external drive. And that’s good, but there are problems with this system.

  • It’s hard to remember what files have been modified on any given day
  • It’s easy to forget to do your backup
  • A local disk is susceptible to theft or damage, or can fill up.
  • You can actually back up corrupted files if you’re not aware of when the infection took place. The nasty thing with many ransomware viruses is that they start to encrypt your files, and only give you the popup warning after the process is complete.

I recommend a cloud-based, dynamic backup system; I use Carbonite™ (and I’m not a paid shill for the company.) For the roughly 11¢ per day that the service costs me, I do whatever I need to on my computer and sleep well at night, knowing that if there’s a disaster of any sort – ransomware, hard drive crashes, fire, theft, you name it – I can get my critical data back. I once had a hard drive crash without backup, and it cost me over 3 grand to have a forensic data specialist retrieve my files (a ripoff, Seagate would have done it for half the price, but that’s another story.)

2 – Education

Educate yourself, and educate your friends, family, and employees. People click on things without thinking, and that’s never been good computing practice. It’s more important than ever to be careful about links contained in emails.

Have a look at this selection of emails that I received just this week:

Subject: Payment Information

Good afternoon. Thank you for sending the bill.
Unfortunately, you have forgotten to specify insurance payments.
So, we cannot accept the payment without them.
All details are in the attachment.


Subject: E-Mailed Invoices Invoice_6F839240

Please find attached your latest purchase invoice.
**************************************************
Any queries with either the quantity or price MUST
be notified immediately to the department below.
**************************************************
Yours sincerely, Sales Ledger Department
Tel: +44 (0) 4215 189 115


Subject: Urgent

Our accountant informed me that in the bill you processed, the invalid account number had been specified.
Please be guided by instructions in the attachment to fix it up.


Subject: Urgent Alert

We have detected a suspicious money ATM withdrawal from your card.
For your security, we have temporarily blocked the card.
All the details are in the attachment. Please open it when possible.


Subject: Delivery status

Dear Client! Our delivery department could not accept your operation due to a problem with your current account.
In order to avoid falling into arrears and getting charged, please fill out the document in the attachment as soon as possible and send it to us.


Subject: Invoice for 893547 21/11/2016

This email confirms that your goods have been dispatched. Please find attached your Invoice in PDF format. Please note this document will only be sent in electronic form.


Subject: Attention Required

Our HR Department told us they haven’t received the receipt you’d promised to send them.
Fines may apply from the third party. We are sending you the details in the attachment.

Please check it out when possible.


Subject: E-Mailed Invoices Invoice_CE576080

Please find attached your latest purchase invoice.
**************************************************
Any queries with either the quantity or price MUST
be notified immediately to the department below.
**************************************************
Yours sincerely, Sales Ledger Department
Tel: +44 (0) 5458 175 571


Subject: Please Pay Attention

Greetings! Informing you that the contractor requires including VAT in the service receipt.
Sending the new invoice and payment details in the attached file.
Please open and study it as soon as possible – we need your decision.


Subject: Insufficient funds

Dear info,
Your bill payment was rejected due to insufficient funds on your account.
Payment details are given in the attachment.


Subject: Important Information

Dear info, your payment was not processed due to the problem with credentials.
Payment details are in the attached document.
Please check it out as soon as possible.


Subject: Please Pay Attention
Dear info, we have received your payment but the amount was not full.
Probably, this occurred due to taxes we take from the amount.
All the details are in the attachment – please check it out.


Subject: Please note

Your tax bill debt due date is today. Please fulfill the debt.
All the information and payment instructions can be found in the attached document.


Subject: Urgent

Dear Client! We have to inform you that payments for contractors’ services were insufficient.
Thus, we are sending the report and the amount details in the attachment.


Subject: Order #9406386

Dear info, sending the receipt for the order #9406386.
You made it last week. Please check it out as soon as possible.
The receipt with all info is in the attached file.

Every single one of these came with zip file as an attachment. And every single one would have downloaded ransomware to the computer of anyone who was careless enough to open the file.

There are some red flags here:

  • My company address is “info@abc.com”, and most of these emails start out as “Dear info.”
  • The English in many of these emails is unnatural or grammatically wrong.

And yet people will still open these emails, and still click the attachments. If businesses take data security seriously, every employee will be given training on how to recognize data threats.

Please be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.