Thursday, July 28, 2005

Spam Spam

Yesterday I got a Nigerian Scam letter from Daniel Kabila (or someone claiming to be he). Haven't actually gotten one from him for quite awhile.

And then, this morning, I had ten new emails, all spam. Three of them though were pushing small cap stocks. This type of spam seems to becoming more prevalent.

The problem with them is the assumption that I am brain dead. Why would I buy a small cap stock that someone whom I don't know is touting? Esp., when he is touting it to millions at the same time?

Yes, the stocks are probably getting ready for runs. But the runs would be almost entirely caused by the spam stock tips. So, the natural scam is that someone is into the stock already and is trying to drive the price up now. Duh. At least with advice from stock brokers, I know where they are making their money, and it is typically not directly on the stock they are hyping. Rather, it is either indirect, or, more likely, they just want me to churn my (nonexistent) stock account.

It took awhile to figure out how all those spammers hawking the same offshore drug sites were making their money. Turns out that in many cases, the URL they give you shoots you through Google or the like on the way to the drug sites, getting them credit for a hit along the way, which, ultimately, they get paid for.

Finally, my favorite. All the alerts I keep getting from financial institutions, most notably eBay and PayPal, that they have detected some unauthorized activity on my (nonexistent) account, and so I should sign on and verify all my information. Somehow though the sign-on page never matches the official domain names of the supposed financial institutions. Typically, instead, I see an IP address instead. Sometimes, though, a domain somewhere in Europe or Asia. Even occasionally, something local, which invariably turns out to have been hacked.

The obvious scam here is to get all that information from you that you are so kindly verifying for them, and then to use it to, for example, clean out your checking accounts. Other than that, of course, relatively harmless. Actually, in the long run, that is not that different from the Nigerian Scam that started this whole entry off - your bank account number (and the money that unlocks) is the goal of the whole Nigerian scam too.

What is great about these financial institution scams is that often there is a link on the sign-on page on their fake site to the fraud prevention page for the actual financial institution that they are pretending to be. Indeed, most of the links on their bogus page are the real links.

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