Don’t reply to spam. Ever.

This should go without saying, but I just thought I’d point out one of many reasons why you should never respond to spam messages.

spam

(We wanted to let you know that we noticed that you still did not claim your $200 Amazon-shopping bonus that was gifted to you as a thank you for your business in past.
Please be sure to claim this before Aug 25
But Hurry! This Ends on Aug 25!
Please Go Here Now to Claim Your $200 Amazon-Shopping Bonus)

Click on the “Claim Your Bonus” link and your email program will generate a message to the following addresses:

  • info@delopment.net
  • sports@southeoffice.com,
  • mailtech@provintimate.net
  • reply@republck.com
  • info@templervices.net

Whatever message you send, such as “Ooh yes I want my bonus” or whatever, you have just given a live email address to five spammers/criminals/scammers or Mogg knows what, with a loud additional shout: “I am a sucker! Please Scam Me!”

Just don’t. Never respond to anything in your Spam box, and if you get email from people you have never done business with, delete it at once.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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WordPress users, please use strong passwords

Just got phishing spam from bad guys pretending to the Bank of Ireland. Here’s the email:

Bank of Ireland Phishing

If you are fooled into clicking the link, you are redirected to:

http://personalbanking.bankofireland.obfusticated.com/ie/ie/authentication.html?e1s1

The “obfusticated” prevents anyone from actually going to the bad site, and protects the wordpress user whose website (“obfusticated.com”) has been compromised. For what it’s worth, I’ve done my best to warn the individual involved that there is a problem at their website.

The gateway page is below. It looks very official, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a fake.

Bank of Ireland Phishing 2

Then you get to give the criminals your login PIN:

Bank of Ireland Phishing 3

The malicious code appears to fail the first time and makes you re-enter the data. It doesn’t matter what you put in the second time, you’ll advance to the next page:

Bank of Ireland Phishing 4

Please be aware: BANKS WILL NEVER DO THIS. NEVER GIVE OUT SENSITIVE INFORMATION BY EMAIL OR ON THE WEB.

Next you are asked to hand the criminals your credit card password.

Bank of Ireland Phishing 5

Once they have your data – or in my case, a whole raft of obscenities – you are redirected to the real Bank of Ireland website.

If you have a WordPress blog (or any other website) please make sure you are using strong passwords. If bad guys get in, they can park malicious code in your web space and direct their victims there, not to mention steal whatever valuable data is there.

Never give out sensitive financial information over the web. If you suspect your accounts have truly been compromised or locked, call your bank directly and ask for verification.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Dear Google News, what the hqiz is this?

I’m used to seeing all sorts of spam and junk ads on the internet – not so much since I have ad blockers at work for me, but a lot of the ads on pages are served up in ways that ad blockers don’t identify them as such.

But when I go to Google News, I expect news articles and not clickbait, bayesian-filtered camel ejecta.

Here’s my news feed this morning (click the image for a larger view):

health

Look at the last five items. Obviously computer-generated text with garbage descriptions designed to thwart bayesian filtering. These are not even tagged as obvious advertisements as they should be.

Even though the “sources” show “The Boyne City Gazette” and “The Inland Empire News,” each link takes you via multiple redirects to “topcanadiandrugs24rx,” a scummy outfit probably operating out of India or Eastern Europe.

canada

Click on the “Real Time Coverage” button for the “story” and this is what you get:

realtime

Come on, Google – you can do better than that.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.

Domain Registraton Scam – Bad Actors from China

Be careful out there. I just got this email the other day, and while it looked dodgy from the outset, I thought I’d follow it down the rabbit hole to see where it went.

Dear sir or madam,

We are a registrar for domain names authorized by Chinese government. Today, we received an application from Daoc International ltd applying to register [domain] as their brand name and some top-level domain names(.CN .HK etc). After our initail checking, We found the main body of domain names is same as yours.

We are handling the application and we need to confirm whether or not you authorize them to register them? Let me know your positon ASAP so as to solve it promptly. Looking forward to your reply.

Best regards,
Elvin Lee
Tel:+86-551- 6349 1191
Fax:+86-551- 6349 1192
Address:No.413,Changjiang Road,Hefei City,Anhui Province

OK. So I simply responded and said, “These domains are not authorized, thank you.”

Next up:

Notice: regarding this case, we did not receive any of your reply until now. Concerning the mentioned brand name please confirm whether you need to register by yourselves? If need, please let us know in time, we can send an application form to you. If you think the registration of that company or the use of the brand name will not bring any negative effect to your company, i suggest you can give up the brand name, then we will accept that company application unconditionally. Further questions please contact me in time.

Followed the same day by this:

Notice: hi, i am Elvin Lee. We had discussed the case about disputing your company’s brand name. You have never registered the brand name, the dispute period will come soon. If your company does not register the brand name, we will start aforesaid company registration within 2 workdays. That company will become the legal owner of the brand name in the world. We had notified you, so we are not responsible for any dispute question about your intellectual property right and trademark after they succeed in registration. If you have any questions, pls contact us within 2 workdays.

Basically telling me I’ll lose worldwide rights to my domain name if I don’t quickly take action, or alternatively, I should abandon my own domain so that they can legally register it with other companies.

Lastly, today:

Thanks for your confirmation. As soon as receiving the application of that company, we checked and found [domain] is your company’s using name. We are concerned that your name might be affected negatively by their applications, this is why we informed you. Following brand name and domain names are applied by that company:
Brand name:
[domain]
Domain names:
[domain].asia
[domain].cn
[domain].com.cn
[domain].com.hk
[domain].com.tw
[domain].hk
[domain].in
[domain].net.cn
[domain].org.cn
[domain].tw
[domain].co.in

You know that the domain names registration is open in the world, that company also has the right to apply for the available domain names. You only have the preferential rights to register them.

At present, we haven’t passed their application, we need your opinion. If your company consider these names of importance to your company’s business or interest, i suggest that your company register these names first so as to avoid confusion or speculation. Of course, If you don’t think their application will affect your company in the future, you can give up these names so that we can finish registering for them. Please give me your company’s decision as soon as possible.
Uh, no. While I have no doubt that there are many good and honest Chinese businesses, this is not one of them – in fact, falls under the rubric of “morals of a honey badger.”
Above and beyond the standard advice, “Never deal with spammers,” I’d add that you be extraordinarily careful when unsolicited business proposals come from China – in other words, be doubly vigilant.
The Old Wolf has spoken.

An especially convincing Phishing scam

Here’s the email that came to me yesterday:

Image1

  1. Notice that it appears to come from “Paypal.com,”  However, the original sender was 23.249.163.109 (if even that’s not spoofed) which is in Buffalo, NY rather than PayPal’s headquarters which is in California.
  2. Second, the message is an image rather than text. That’s a red flag right there. The images link back to:

These are definitely nothing linked to PayPal. So we know even without any further examination that we are dealing with a phishing scam.

The image itself, if you click on it, will lead you to a long URL which actually contains the email address that their phishing email was sent to. If you click on these links, they know who you are.

http://redirect.paypal.com.0.session…..=MyEmailAddress@comcast.net

Image2

So notice that when you get to the phishing website, they already have your email address. This is what makes the scam more credible – they’re not asking for your PayPal ID, because they are counting on the fact that you use your same email address as your PayPal address, and they already have that.

If you foolishly enter your password, the first thing you’ll see is this bit of misdirection:

Image3

But that’s just a clever bit of misdirection. So you try again, and this is what you get next:

Image4

Which soon passes to:

Image5

And off to the races we go.

REMEMBER: Banks or PayPal or other financial institutions will NEVER ask you to verify information like this via email. All such requests are SCAMS.

When I check out websites like this (don’t try this at home – you could also be picking up a lot of malware if you’re not properly protected), I usually enter really insulting phrases for names, cities, and so forth. It’s a small thing, but it’s really the only way I can get under the skins of these criminals.

Image6

That billing address is nothing I would ever want to repeat in polite company – but notice that the scammers are trying to make their victim think they already have a credit card on file, and you’re just supposed to verify it.

Image7

So again I give them some bogus information that could never be used as a real card or be used to hurt anyone else.

Image8

The last screen will redirect the victim, once they have handed over their sensitive information to thieves, to the real PayPal website. Notice however – nothing else on the page works. All the other links are non-existent.

This scam is well-contrived enough that I fear any number of people will be taken in.

The most important thing to remember is that, as I said before, PayPal will NEVER ask you to give up sensitive financial information like this through an email message.

Be careful out there, and protect your loved ones.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

If they’re willing to spam you, think twice. No, think three times.

Spam is one of the plagues of the 21st century. Despite feeble efforts of government regulatory bodies (think CAN-SPAM act, which resulted in an increase of spam), spammers continue their tactics. In the second quarter of 2013, per Kaspersky, spam comprised 70.7% of all email sent globally.

All you have to do is look at the kind of things caught by your spam filters to get an idea of the reputability of companies who are willing to spam you – porn, get-rich-quick offers, penis/breast enlargement, Canadian pharmacies (typically run by
Russian crime syndicates), diploma mills, real-estate swindles, wrinkle creams, hair-regrowers, insurance fraud, worthless supplements, cable/satellite/internet/TV scams, weight loss “miracle pills,”… the list goes on and on.

The trouble is – spam is profitable. People answer ads, buy products that they don’t need and that don’t work, and spammers make money.

Granny-Grandma-Internet-old-people

But there’s a reason that spam is also called “junk email” – and that’s because almost everything offered to you by spammers is just that – junk. It’s worthless, and probably worse than worthless – it could end up costing you lots of money and frustration. You would think this goes without saying, but obviously it doesn’t.

Let’s look at an example, arrived freshly steaming in my junk folder today:

CHW

First off, the mail consists of an image, which makes it hard for spam filters to tag it. Anyone who works hard to defeat built-in and ISP protections against spam probably has the ethics of a honey badger.

This particular ad touts a “home warranty service,” which is really nothing more than a pre-paid service contract on home appliances and infrastructure. But what does the Better Business Bureau have to say about CHW?

Government Actions

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Complaint
Date of Action: 7/28/2014
The following describes a pending government action that has been formally brought by a government agency but has not yet been resolved. We are providing a summary of the governments allegations, which have not yet been proven.

On July 28, 2014, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs filed a Complaint in Superior Court in Middlesex County against CHW Group, Inc., d/b/a “Choice Home Warranty,” an Edison-based company that allegedly induced consumers to buy “comprehensive” coverage for crucial home systems and appliances, and then denied consumers’ claims for repair or replacement through the use of deceptive tactics. As a result, consumers who paid hundreds of dollars for CHW’s “home warranties” – which are actually residential service contracts – were forced to pay out-of-pocket for air conditioning, refrigerator, or other repairs that allegedly should have been covered under their “warranties” with CHW.

As set forth in the State’s complaint, filed by the Division of Law on behalf of the Division of Consumer Affairs:

CHW and its principals often denied claims based on consumers’ supposed failure to properly maintain their covered home systems or appliances. The defendants also often denied claims based on supposed pre-existing defects. The company denied claims even when technicians declared that the covered home systems or appliances had been properly maintained, and/or had failed for reasons not related to poor maintenance or pre-existing problems.

As a way of denying claims, the defendants on many occasions demanded that the consumers provide years’ worth of records to prove they performed regular maintenance on the covered items. These denials were issued despite the fact that CHW’s residential service contract does not state that the company can demand maintenance records from consumers.

Additionally, when consumers requested specific explanations for their denial of claims in writing, CHW on many occasions failed or refused to provide written explanations.

CHW also promised consumers that if covered items could not be repaired, the company would replace them. However, when consumers needed to replace covered items, the company often required consumers to accept cash “buy-outs.” These “buy-outs” were hundreds of dollars less than the consumers’ cost to replace the items.

CHW also repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises for prompt service. In several cases this was because the company failed to pay its contracted technicians.

CHW’s residential service contract states that, upon receiving a request for service, the company will contact a local technician within two days during normal business hours and four days on weekends and holidays. However, CHW did not have contracted technicians in some areas. Consumers in those areas had to find their own technicians, then pay the technicians directly and seek reimbursement from CHW. On other occasions, contractors sent to consumers’ homes by CHW turned out to be unlicensed and/or uninsured.

The State’s Complaint ultimately requests that the Court, among other things, find that the defendants violated the Consumer Fraud Act and Advertising Regulations; order defendants to pay consumer restitution; declare CHW’s residential service contracts with consumers to be null and void; and impose civil penalties.

For more details go to:
http://nj.gov/oag/newsreleases14/pr20140728a.html

In response to these charges, the business provided the following statement:

“We are disappointed that the State has chosen to file this lawsuit. We unequivocally dispute the allegations, intend to vigorously defend against them, and are confident that we will ultimately prevail. Choice Home Warranty has fielded thousands of warranty claims from our customers, resulting in claims payments of tens of millions of dollars. In fact, many of the complaints referred to by the Attorney General’s office, were resolved long ago, to the satisfaction of the consumer.”

This particular suit is ongoing, and allegations have not been proven… but the number of complaints, roughly 300 per year, is probably a pretty good indication that not all is well. I return again to the simple fact that this company is willing to advertise via spam, always a huge red flag in my book.

Have a look at a gripe posted at complaintsboard.com on 3/20/15, yesterday as of this writing:

Every time I called, they sent someone out. I paid the $45, only to find out a repair wasn’t covered. Then, my washing machine was acting up. Replacing the mother boards was more than what the machine was worth. They opted to send me a check for $300. That was a month ago – currently, no check. I then had another claim, and again, it wasn’t covered. So I told them that since they don’t cover items for my home, I wanted to cancel. I received a call last week stating that since I cancelled, they wouldn’t send the $300 check. I told that person that I filed the Washing Machine claim over a month ago, and that check should have already been issued and mailed. He hung up on me. So, I have been emailing CHW about the status of my account and check and received nothing. Then, just now, I called CHW customer service and asked who the President and CEO is, and they put me on hold and never came back on the phone. I want to file a formal complaint. Make sure to have my account closed and have that $300 check which I am entitled to. Horrible, horrible bait and switch and God awful Customer Service.

Here’s one from Ripoff Report:

Our A/C compressor stopped working. It is 17 years old (we bought the home less than 6 months ago) and choice thinks it should last 18 years. They call it “premature failure” which is not due to normal wear and tear, so they denied the claim. They advertise that they will cover your appliances no matter how old. Don’t believe it! Their exclusions are general enough that they can deny any claim.

So you pay to sign up, you pay $45.00 for a service call, and often you are told that the repair isn’t covered… this echoes the kind of allegations leveled by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. And when you try to get a complaint resolved and get the kind of “customer service” related above, you know you are dealing with a company that doesn’t give a rat’s south-40.

Before you even consider dealing with a company that spams you, no matter how appealing the offer may look, do some research.

In the interest of full disclosure, and the Internet being what it is, the presence of a complaint anywhere does not guarantee that a company is malfeasant or dishonest. But as you are doing your research, look for patterns. If there seems to be an abundance of complaints across multiple sites, you might want to look elsewhere. Also, the BBB is in business to make money, and companies can purchase accreditation with them, so being accredited with the BBB is also not a guarantee of ethicality.

As always, please watch over your loved ones – especially the elderly and vulnerable. Educate them to stay away from spam offers if they have access to email.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Congratulation from Samsung. Uh, No.

In yesterday’s email:

SAMSUNG UK HQ

SAMSUNG Office (Paddington), London,

United Kingdom.
London, W6 9PE.
Company No: 4620511
FROM THE DESK OF SAMSUNG 2014 PROMOTIONAL AWARD.
Dear Email Owner,
This is to officially inform you that your E-mail have been verified and pronounced as the lucky winner of 500,000.00 GBP, in the 2014 Award By (SAMSUNG Draw Promotion UK) wishes to congratulate you over your Email Address success in this financial bailout plan. Your Email Address emerged as one of the ten final recipients of a Cash

Please Contact Us.  {samsung.claimoff_uk@outlook.com}

1. Full Name’s:
2. Sex:
3. Country:
4. State/City:
5. Contact Address:
6. Mobile/Tel Number:
7. Marital Status:
8. Occupation:
9. Date/Age:

The grammar and spelling is enough to make this a dead giveaway as a Nigerian scam. If you get this email, or one like it, throw it directly in the trash. If you respond, you’ll be hit up for as much money in fees and taxes and transfer agents and bribes as you are willing to shell out. As for what you’ll get?

n827576771_677258_6298

And that’s the sum total of the transaction. Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.