Word of the Week: Scam

Word of the Week: Scam

Phishing for a Place to Stay

Thinking back to my college days I remembered a funny event. Although this took place before computers came onto the scene it reminds me of some phishing scams, but with a different twist...

It had been a long day and back at our apartment my roommate Shelly and I were finishing our homework, as the clock approached 2AM. It was a week-night and since it was a very late hour, our city apartment was probably one of the few on the street with the lights shining.

We heard a knock at our door, and at first we were hesitant to respond, but as we glanced through our window we could see a woman standing there. We opened the door and the woman said, "I'm sorry to bother you, but I locked myself out and I don't have a spare key. Do you mind if I come in for a while?" The weather was cold and my roommate Shelly and I agreed as we told the woman, "Okay, for a while." The woman walked in, introduced herself, and sat down on our sofa. We offered her some tea and realized she smelled of alcohol and appeared to be drunk. We placed a call to our landlords pager. The woman sat quietly as we continued to work.

We lived in a studio apartment since it was all that we could afford, so the sofa also served as my bed. The next thing we knew, the woman had fallen asleep on our sofa - my bed! Shelly began to worry about the situation as it was getting very late, we had classes in the morning, and not to mention the fact that the woman was drunk.

Shelly whispered, "What did she say her name was?" I said, I don't quite remember how she pronounced it." Shelly then replied; "Well why don't we look outside our front door, and read the other tenants names?" We lived in an old Victorian house that had been converted into a four-plex, so reading the names outside would be a quick and easy task. I volunteered to go look.

It took only a moment to glance at the nameplates to realize we had been tricked! Now that it was nearly 3AM, and since I was tired and rummy I was unable to resist laughing! I returned laughing as I informed Shelly that the woman's name was nowhere to be seen on the name plates! We both realized she created a clever story to get inside our apartment! I continued to laugh, but Shelly didn't find it to be a humorous event. I told her to stay calm and we came up with a plan.

Several minutes later we woke the woman with a clever story of our own. We told her, "Sorry to wake you, but we called the landlord Hans, and he is on his way now." We walked her back to the door, and continued, "He'll be here shortly to meet you outside, and let you into your apartment. Good-bye!" We quickly then closed the door, and turned off our lights. We never heard from our landlord, and like her clever story, we created a high tale of our own to get her to leave our apartment!

Although it isn't a "phishing scam" per say, it certainly shares some common traits when people send phishing scams in an attempt to access our personal space or data. To this day I still laugh at how naive we had been to let her into our apartment, and that we didn't realize that she was really just phishing for a place to sleep!

I Won a Million Dollar Power Ball!

It really is quite amusing the bait one will use for their phishing line. The spam I received today had a very tempting lure as they announced that I won a million dollar power ball!

When reading the email announcing that I won a million dollar power ball, I knew it was not possible since I never entered the lottery they were referring to! I guess they think we are all ignorant!

If you are ever in doubt about an email you receive, one way to get a better understanding of where it came from is to select view source to see the message in html. However, if the email has an attachment, and you do not recognize the sender it is best to not open the email at all. In view source you are able to see the source of the email you received. In this case, following the source name it read: (untrusted sender).

Another dead-giveaway in most spoofs or spam is the use of misspelled words, or incorrect use of words. You would think if they wanted to be more successful in their crooked endeavor that they would at least spell check their letter before sending it!

The heading of their letter was proving their stupidity to begin with as it read, "Dear Consultation Prize Winner", which gave me my laugh for the day! First off, if they were legit they would have addressed it to my name, and secondly they incorrectly used the word; consultation! I'm sure they meant to use the word; consolation! But, they continue to prove their lack of intelligence! And, get real! A consolation prize is never a million dollars!

Stupid Criminals - Wrong Cashier

I read this stupid criminal story today and thought it was quite funny.

A woman broke into several cars at a Wallmart parking lot. She stole some money, credit cards and a checkbook. Several days later she decided to go on a shopping spree to spend the stolen money. With the value of the dollar challenged these days by high prices, free money was her temptation - as with all criminals, so most likely the woman probably thought she struck gold!

Being a stupid criminal she of course chose to go to Wallmart, at the same location where she broke into the cars! She selected her merchandise and proceeded to the check-out. Unaware of who the cashier was, she attempted to purchase the items with the stolen credit card and checkbook that actually belonged to the cashier! You guessed it, she was quickly arrested! Stupid criminals sure make it easy for law enforcement!

However, sometimes the owner of a vehicle can also make the job too easy for the stupid criminal. Even if you have cheap car insurance, never leave your valuables or other items of temptation visible inside your car. Insurance claims add up and can increase your cost of premiums. So the best advice is to protect your personal items within your vehicle, and it is best to never leave cash, credit cards or checks inside.

A credit card is a great way to enhance our daily lives. When used responsibly credit cards help consumers purchase goods and services, and to pay for them on an affordable budget. However, a bad credit card decision is sure to affect your specific financial or credit needs. As demonstrated in the stupid criminal story above, be sure to keep your credit cards out of the reach of criminals.

Phishing Trip Cancelled!

Yesterday we received a spoof email for a job offer. When we investigated the advertised website, it turned out to be a money laundering scam attempting to recruit people.

This morning we attempted to go back to visit the website used by the crooks as their front for their activity. We were surprised to see that their website is gone! It didn't take long for the authorities to catch up with their illegal activity! Justice was swiftly served, and their phishing trip has been canceled!

Phishing and Money Laundering Scam

Yet another scam is born to tempt and to lure! Today I received a spoof email phishing scam. Upon further investigation I discovered that the scam uses a website as a front to commit money laundering. The spoof email came posing as a well known Internet career site, complete with their logo.

I want to stress the fact that the email was a spoof - only purporting to be the career site, but was not. We reported the spoof email to the career site whose logo and trademark had been fraudulently used. Below, we've changed the company name that was offering the career, but essentially it read as follows: 

"The Laundering Group Inc., is a leading venture capital firm. With over 550 million in committed capital under management, the firms partners have invested in 150 companies that are leaders in their industry categories.

We are seeking self-motivated, goal-oriented individuals that wish to earn as much as their spare time permits. No experience necessary. We offer financial aid to help you create and manage your own business and will provide motivating opportunities.

General qualifications including owning and ability to use an Internet-ready PC; ability to work in a high-energy speedy team environment, and the dedication to create your own success in a fast-paced challenging career. Basic banking knowledge is a plus though not required.

In return for your commitment you'll receive unlimited commission, excellent benefits and growth potential.

For consideration please email resume to: blahblahblah....

Or view our website at blahblahblah...."

The first tell-tale sign that the email was a spoof was due to the fact that it came from a job seeker site that I've never provided my email address to. Secondly, I decided out of curiosity to take a look at their website. Please note, when you receive such spoof or phishing emails that you NEVER want to click on any links provided in their email. I instead typed the URL into my web browser to investigate their website.

Upon arriving to their site I promptly sought the so called "job opportunity" to read the details, which reveals the opportunity is a money laundering scam. The job description included the following:

"You will have the opportunity to increase your income substantially, working as an independent contractor. We will help you create and develop your own business, and you will receive a 9.5% commission from every processed payment.

To begin, you will be assigned to one of our agents that will guide you throughout the entire process. The agent will help you set up your own company to be able to deal with us, and our clients. You will receive both technical and financial aid required in order to open a business. Next, opening a business bank account is the first step to begin your activity. There will be an initial small deposit fee required by the bank, which will be made available to you by us before preparing the application.

Once you have properly accomplished these steps, all you have to do is to receive the payments from our clients, and to redirect them to us, using your new business bank account, following the instructions given by our assigned agent.

For each transaction you will earn 9.5% from each processing! For example: you may receive a $5,000 wire transfer to your bank account. You withdraw the money and keep $475.00 (9.5% of $5,000) for yourself. As you see, the operations are very easy to understand and complete, and we are here to guide you."

We encourage you to share your comments on your experience so we can help others protect themselves from these crooks.