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The Podium

Blog posts tagged with 'Online Scams'

Friday, February 24

Weird Story of the Day

By Brad

Via Australia’s Courier Mail comes the strange tale of online Nigerian scammers, a car sales racket, and the woman who scammed the scammers without realizing they were, in fact, scammers.

Thursday, June 02

Phishing From Behind the Great Firewall

By Brad

Yesterday, Google announced it has discovered a malware and phishing attack on its popular Gmail service. From the company’s official blog:

Through the strength of our cloud-based security and abuse detection systems, we recently uncovered a campaign to collect user passwords, likely through phishing. This campaign, which appears to originate from Jinan, China, affected what seem to be the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior U.S. government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists.

As Cecilia Kang and Ellen Nakashima of The Washington Post report, Google’s accusation didn’t sit well with Chinese officials:

[The accusation] drew angry denials from Chinese government officials on Thursday, with a foreign ministry spokesman calling the accusation “a fabrication out of thin air.”

Asked repeatedly at a news conference about the hacking, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the accusations against China are “unacceptable.”

Wednesday, June 30

Scam of the Day

By Brad

Computer World reports:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has disrupted a long-running online scam that allowed offshore fraudsters to steal millions of dollars from U.S. consumers—often by taking just pennies at a time.

The scam, which had been run for about four years years, according to the FTC, provides a case lesson in how many of the online services used to lubricate business in the 21st century can equally be misused for fraud.

“It was a very patient scam,” said Steve Wernikoff, a staff attorney with the FTC who is prosecuting the case. “The people who are behind this are very meticulous.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, these scammers managed to shave at least $9.5 million, most of it in 25¢ transactions.

(On a related note, this scam is known as “salami slicing” in criminal circles, and was used prominently in the movie Office Space, as well as Superman 3 — for those who remember that movie.)


Wednesday, June 16

Spam Across the Pond

By Brad

According to a new report from Britain’s CPP, people in the UK were forced to wade through 3.7 billion — yes, billion — spam and scam messages last year alone. That’s over 420,000 emails dispersed throughout Britain every single hour.

Tuesday, March 02

Today in Scams

By Brad

Via Ars Technica comes the story of some tech-savvy thieves, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and the $150 thousand bridal show scam.

Friday, January 29

Interview with a Scammer

By Brad

The UK site Scam Detectives has a fascinating interview with a convicted Nigerian email scammer:

Scam-Detective: How did you find victims for your scams?

John: First you need to understand how the gangs work. At the bottom are the “foot soldiers”, kids who spend all of their time online to find email addresses and send out the first emails to get people interested. When they receive a reply, the victim is passed up the chain, to someone who has better English to get copies of ID from them like copies of their passport and driving licenses and build up trust. Then when they are ready to ask for money, they are passed further up again to someone who will pretend to be a barrister or shipping agent who will tell the victim that they need to pay charges or even a bribe to get the big cash amount out of the country. When they pay up, the gang master will collect the money from the Western Union office, using fake ID that they have taken from other scam victims.

The full interview is worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 12

Scamming the Scammers

By Brad

Chances are you’ve at some point received a poorly worded email from a troubled Nigerian official promising you piles of money. And while most people smartly send such missives to their junk folder, some people continue to fall for the scam.

Now, Ars Technica reports, the problem has led to a new online game that’s rising in popularity: Nigerian Scammer Baiting:

Scam baiters are the vigilante enforcers who come together to waste hours, weeks, or months of 419 scammers’ lives for nothing more than the satisfaction of knowing that they are distracting them from real victims. Though the world of 419 scams has existed since long before the Internet, people continue to fall for scammers in droves—certainly, scammers are making millions of dollars every year by promising money, goods, and romance that they never deliver on. That’s part of why scam baiting has actually become a somewhat popular pastime online, with thousands of users flocking to scam baiting forums to share stories and ideas on how to string along more scammers. And hey, why not? Most of us end up spending too much time screwing around on the Internet anyway—these folks just use that time to make scammers miserable.



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