Even by broken-English standards, this one I got today is a real mess:
Subject: The cheapest way to buy new car, once a year
Hi Regional Federal Credit Union, this is an Incredible Opportunity for You to get Brandnew Car at Super-Saving Price
Last Chance to get up to $7000 off on all Vehicles Model 2011 Blowout Sales.This happens only Once a year.
Register now for Free and get your price quote for all possible saving brandnew autos.
Hurry up, only few days left to win those crazy deals.
Start Saving up to $7000 by spending 2 minutes to fill out the registration form here
Rule #1 of dealing with spam: if they’re using the name of the place you work as if it’s your name, there is no logical reason to click on anything within the message or to respond in any way other than to delete the message.
Note: for maximum atmosphere, first scroll to the bottom of this post and play the YouTube video, and listen to the music while you read.
The night meowed at the window of the dingy third-floor office on the wrong side of town like a housecat left out in the rain, trying to draw my gaze from the hand of solitaire laid out on the desk between half-empty cups of cold coffee, old newspapers and an ashtray spilling over with stale butts. I glanced at the window and shuddered for some reason, then wondered who left all the spent Chesterfields there, seeing as how I don’t smoke. They made a good prop, though, so I returned to my cards. If I could just find the other red queen, I was set.
It was the kind of night that slithers through the gutters and alleyways, around garbage cans and dumpsters, up fire escapes and into the ventilation. It always finds a way in, always creeps up behind you, always gets you in the end. There was a knock at the door, and a woman entered.
She was one sad-luck dame by the look of her, all switchblade sadness and razor gloom, whatever that means. She was carrying a laptop computer (which seemed anachronistic given the setting, but this was the Fraud Prevention Unit, and these newfangled bean-counters were the rule these days).
She just stood there for a minute and looked unsure. “Are…are you the one they call ‘Sledge?'”
“That’s me,” I said. “Hank Sledge, Private Fraud Investigator.”
“Oh. I…oh.” She swayed on the spot, as if trying to decide something.
“C’mon, spill it, sister,” I spat.
“Well, it’s just…I got this email the other day and I don’t know what to do.”
I looked at the gray computer tucked under her arm. “And you figure some mug’s got you pegged as an easy mark? Toss that mill up here on the table. Let’s see what we got.”
She placed the laptop on the desk and hit the power button. It took a minute to start up, and the awkwardness hung in the air like burnt toast. “So…um…read any good books lately?” I started to say, but the machine was ready.
“This one right here,” she said, and I read the email.
The message said it was from Facebook, and if it was a ringer it was a darn good one. It went like this:
From: Facebook <email@example.com> Subject: You have 3 lost messages on Facebook…
Facebook sent you a notification
You have 3 lost messages on Facebook, to recover a messages please follow the link below: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?recover.messages=563f03b5d6f9
How to get back your lost messages on Facebook
At the bottom was a green button that said “Frequently Asked Questions.”
“Did you click on anything in this mess?” I said.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“You can’t think so. You either clicked or you didn’t. Think hard.”
“No, I didn’t. Jeez. Jerk.”
“Sorry ma’am. Hardboiled crime fiction. I have to talk to everybody that way.”
“Anyway,” I continued, “it’s good you didn’t click. This is a swindle through and through. See this?” I showed her the message header. “If it was from Facebook, it wouldn’t be coming from some ‘notifierfacebook.com’ domain.”
“And check this out.” I moused over the link. “It says ‘facebook.com,’ but it’s disguised. Every link in the message takes you to this weird ‘winesofworld.org’ website. Classic phishing message. These punks either want to infect your computer with malware or steal your password. There’s also the crummy English; see where it says, ‘to recover a messages?’ Makes no sense. Finally, there’s no such thing as ‘lost’ messages on Facebook.”
Her eyes were dinner plates. “So what do I do with it?”
“If I was you, lady, I’d drill it with my heater,” I spat.
“Just delete it.”
“Oh,” she said, and snapped the laptop shut. “Okay, cool. Thanks. Nice hat, by the way.”
I nodded thanks as she disappeared out the door and went back to my game. Black eight to red nine. The card underneath was the queen of diamonds. “There’s my lady,” I murmured over the lonesome wail of a siren echoing across the night.
Here’s a message I got just the other day. It’s pretty goofy.
From: Tom Lavigne To: [blank] Date: Wednesday, June 08, 2011 9:27:37 AM Subject: Deactivation of Your Email Address
THIS MESSAGE IS FROM OUR TECHNICAL SUPPORT TEAM This message is sent automatically by the computer. If you are receiving this message it means that your email address has been queued for deactivation; this was as a result of a continuous error script (code:505)receiving from this email address. Click here and fill out the required field to resolve this problem Note: Failure to reset your email by ignoring this message or inputting wrong information will result to instant deactivation of this email address
Normally I include the email address when I paste these, but apparently Tom is a real person whose email address has been used without his authorization. I don’t want to make it look like some YMCA in Massachusetts is running a phishing scheme.
Anyway, let’s poke holes in it!
Execrable grammar and usage. It used to be that tech people weren’t always the best writers (see also: any software manual written between 1980 and 1995 or so), but “will result to instant deactivation?” No.
“Click here” links to a TinyURL site. Yeah, no.
“This message is sent automatically by the computer.” Yeah. THE COMPUTER. Really? Really? No technical support team would ever use that sentence, because it makes zero sense.
“Reset your email” also makes no sense. How do you reset an email? (You can, however, declare email bankruptcy).
It’s asking you to click a hidden link and provide personal information. It might as well said, “Hi. This is a phishing attack. Can we have your password?”
I haven’t posted any goofy spam word-for-word in a while, so when I got this, I thought it would be a good one to share:
To: Kristi Lee <my email address>
Subject: Kristi biographical confirmation
CONTINENTAL BROADCASTING NETWORK INC.
If you do not wish to be notified Unsubscribe me from this list
It is my honor to notify you of your candidacy as decided upon by the CWW Editorial Division on January 21st 2011. The Editorial Division eagerly awaits your biographical finalization and submission.
Through our CWW forum, outstanding professionals and executives are showcased for their many talents, accomplishments, and knowledge.
On behalf of our staff we wish you much continued success.
Member Services Director
Twenty Three Briaroot Drive Smithtown, New York 11787
This is an advertisement
I have so many things to say about this. So many questions.
For example, from the custom URL what is an “ezecutive?” Is it some new kind of executive that has attained such a level of awesomeness that they spell it with a Z? Or is it a way to slip past spam filters that might flag any URL with “executive” in it?
Why does Christopher Malone own “about 120 other domains” (according to the whois information for this site)? Why are there eight other domain names pointing to this site’s IP address?
Is that his real name?
Why do people report their spyware filters going ape when they try to visit one of these sites?
To many people, this time of year is synonymous with “giving.”
It’s a season that brings out the best in us; we give thanks, we give gifts, and we give to those who are less fortunate than we.
However, it’s also a season that brings out the worst in others. They know a lot of people are in a giving sort of mood, and they take advantage of it. It seems like for every charity providing money and services to those in need, there is at least one organization whose primary mission is to line its own pockets. So how do you avoid charity scams during the holidays and throughout the year?
One of the best ways to give is to simply decide ahead of time which organizations you’re donating to this year, and make your contribution by contacting them directly. When a representative of another charity approaches or calls, simply explain that you’ve already made your contributions for the year. Many people give in this way, so they should be polite and accept your answer. A rude or hostile response is a sign of a charity that isn’t on the up-and-up.
You can also donate something other than money. Clothing and food are always popular items, or you can choose to help out where it is needed. Ask around—I can guarantee somebody needs you somewhere. Plus, donations of time and effort can be more rewarding than monetary giving, as they can bring new experiences and face-to-face contact with the people you’re helping.
Be wary of charities that contact you by email, unless you’ve given in the past and provided this information. Unsolicited email is always pretty sketchy to begin with; clicking on a link and providing credit card or other information can lead you straight into identity theft. However, if you gave to an organization before and provided your email, they may use it to contact you in the future, since it saves money on postage.
If someone approaches you in person or calls, be sure to ask what percentage of funds goes to the people the charity serves. A legitimate charity should expect this question and equip its callers, whether volunteers or paid employees, to answer it truthfully. The question is almost a litmus test in itself—every organization has operating expenses, so an answer like “100%” probably isn’t true, and as always a hostile or evasive response is a sign of a crooked charity. Ask for information to be sent to you, or ask for a website address, because you’re not going to give your credit card information to someone over the phone no matter who they claim to be, are you?
Donating by check is better than cash, because it gives you a way to track your donation. However, writing a check also puts your checking account number into someone else’s hands. If you trust the organization, that’s your call to make, but for an extra level of safety a cashier’s check is even better—even a legitimate charity can misplace a check or have its office burglarized. Finally, when it comes to checks, always make the check out to the charity, not an individual, and never trust anyone who tries to get you to make a check out to “CAS,” no matter what the initials supposedly stand for. All a thief has to do is add an “H” and they’ve got a check, from you, made out to “CASH.”
Do your homework before you give a single dime to anyone. Check out charities with the Better Business Bureau or Charity Navigator. Don’t assume that nonprofit status means anything, since crooked charities hide behind this designation. Finally, pay attention to the name of the charity—the difference between “Foundation” and “Fund” can be the difference between helping those in need and helping a thief buy a spare Jaguar.
How’s that for timing? The thirteenth installment of Ridiculous Spam Friday falls on an actual Friday the 13th. I love it when a plan comes together.
Let’s get to the garbage…
From: Dick Glock <[removed]@amadorcoe.k12.ca.us> Date: Sunday, August 01, 2010 11:30 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Final Notification!!!?
Dear e-MAIL Winner,
Your email address won £850,000.00 GBP in this month NATIONAL LOTTERY E-mail online drew.
To file for your claim, contact our agent Mr.Albert Nelson. with
the details below(Full Names, Contact Address, Country, Age, Sex, Occupation &
Telephone numbers) to this Email: email@example.com Phone Number: Tel:+44 7024027755
MODE OF PAYMENT !!!
Option (1) Via Courier Delivery
Option (2) Via Bank Wire Transfer
Note: This is an automatic message do not click on your reply button send all details to the below Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I removed the email address under “From” because it is apparently the legitimate address of an administrator for a school district out in California. Where do spammers get the legit addresses from?
At any rate, since it’s just another lottery scam message, you don’t even have to wonder why a school admin would be telling you about a lottery, since you already know it’s a scam. The incredulous punctuation in the subject line (“!!!?”) is cute, though.
From: Zoosk Request Notification <email@example.com> Date: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 12:09 PM To: [correct address] Subject: Facebook Notification – Zoosk dating app
-Someone is searching for you on a Facebook application called Zoosk-
Press here to see who wants to make a connection with you:
To not receive this message again please visit this page:
or write to:
Zoosk Inc. 475 Sansome Street., 10th Floor,
San Francisco, CA 94111
To remove yourself from this list,
click here http://dipfishesnet.com/u/ejAvaGhF7140LFFvOEtFKA.html
or write to us at:
PO Box 85073
Richmond, VA 23285-5073
And how, pray tell, would an application on Facebook (I thought Zoosk was its own site) be trying to find me at my work email address? That’s not the one I use there.
This one serves as a good reminder: never click the “unsubscribe” link in a spam message. All you’re doing is confirming that your address is good. I wonder what happens if you write to the P.O. Box, though. I’d imagine putting your email address, full name and home address into the hands of these people could be even worse. Ten bucks says that P.O. Box is just a drop site that is set up to forward everything to Russia.
From: [removed] Date: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 10:29 AM To: [removed] Subject: Hello!
How are you recently?
I bought a laptop from a website: www.laosm.info/ Last week, i have got the product, its quality is very good and the price is competitive. They also sell phones, TV, psp, motor and so on, by the way, they import products from Korea and sell new and original products, they have good reputation and have many good feedbacks. If you need these products, look at this website will be a clever choice.
I am sure you will get many surprise and benefits.
Hello! This one came from a person I work with, although from their personal email address. Somehow it was used to forward this message to every one of her contacts. Greetings! She’s perfectly capable of using coherent English, so I could tell right away something was fishy.
I’m sure you’d get all kinds of “surprise” if you tried to follow that link and actually purchase electronics, and there’d be absolutely nowhere to give them any negative “feedbacks.” Hello! Greetings!
It is unwise to linger overlong on doorsteps in these troubled times, so let’s just get to the spam, already…
From: MICROSOFT CORPORATIONS <[removed]@ufl.edu> Date: Saturday, July 10, 2010 9:36 PM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject:
You have been awarded the sum of E1,625,000.00GBP in the MICROSOFT EMAIL PROMOTION AWARD 2010.Cont Mr Mark Anderson with your names,address,phone and Country to Email: email@example.com or call +4470-4573-9535 for moreinformation on this award.
If there really was a lottery of this type based in the United Kingdom (.uk), why would the email have been sent from the University of Florida (ufl.edu), and ask you to reply to a Chinese address (.cn)?
Of course, we both know this is a scam, you and me, so we’ll just move on, now, won’t we?
From: Mr. Albert Harry <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Monday, May 24, 2010 12:41 AM To: email@example.com Subject: I Need Your Corporate Business Assistance!
It’s my great pleasure to seek your help and genuine co-operation to our mutual benefit and I believe that you will not betray me with the trust and confidence i’m about to bestow on you. I am Mr.Albert Harry, procurement manager to SJCM Solid Minerals England (UK). My GM normally send me to Malaysia to purchase a product called Borax Oil Lq, which is use in the purification/cleansing of Gold and Precious Stones Borax Oil Lq is very cheap in Asia Malaysia compare to US and Europe,per carton of the product cost $6,500 USD to $7,000 USD. While in Asia Malaysia it only cost $2,000 USD. per carton and you will supply to my company at the rate of $3,500 USD Per carton.
Now,I am expecting a promotion to become a branch manager and my GM is mandating a person to represent the company. I do not want my colleague to know the source/actual cost prize of Borax Oil Lq in Malaysia which is $2,000 USD, this is why i am contacting you.I propose the percentage ratio sharing made i.e. $1,500 USD per cartons. 85% for you and 15% for me. Upon your devoted seriousness and willingness to handle this business without betraying me.
I will pass you the contact details of the Malaysian Supplier. You are to act as the main supplier of the Borax Oil Lq in Malaysia to my Company, and you will buy the product from the Malaysian supplier at $2,000 USD.per carton with your capital and re-sell to my Company representative at $3,500 USD.
If you wish to take up this offer, kindly mail me at your earliest time I will furnished you with the next level of proceedings/contact details of the Malaysian distributor as well as that of my company directors to give a quotation.
Please If this business proposition offends your moral and ethic values, do accept my sincere apology.
Mr. Albert Harry
You know what? It does offend me, Mr. Albert Harry, and I don’t accept your apology. Once again, the “9.cn” domain shows up.
From: Sr. Douglas Gregg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, July 26, 2010 11:35 AM
Subject: Your Advise Needed Urgently
I am Sr. Douglas Gregg,
I’m writing to inform you my desire for you to assist me contact a Cooperate Fiduciary Company in United-State, to assist me receive a shipment it contain funds ($31.9Million) in a shipment package.
It was shipped via a Shipping company based in Bern Switzerland to their affiliate vault in (US).
Please email me for more detail.
Awaiting your urgent response.
Sr. Douglas Gregg.
So now you’re trying to get me to believe a bog box o’ cash is waiting for me somewhere? I’m trying to figure out what the setup here is, but I have no doubt it would involve wiring money to Sr. Douglas.
What the heck does the “Sr.” mean when it comes before a name, anyway? Is it supposed to be “Sir?” I’ve never seen that before. I wasn’t aware of the need to abbreviate a three-letter word. I mean, it’s already pretty brief. I like how it’s part of the email address, too.
This concludes our latest batch of emails you should ignore. Not just these specific messages, but anything that looks even a little bit like them.
Today’s collection of ludicrous spam emails is one louder, innit?*
From: Kim Farah Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2010 5:58 AM To: none Subject: Your Email Has Been Chosen
I am Mr. Kelvin Barry, Director Of Operations, of Euro Million Lottery Company, United Kingdom. I am soliciting your sincere Co-operation for a swift transfer of £4,528,000 GBP which would be allocated to your E-mail address as the winner in our ballot draws. If you are willing to Co-operation with me in this project and you will be having 60% of the total funds while I would have 40%.All you need to do is that, you register online with Euro Million Lottery Company and as a result of my position in the company I would make it possible that your E-mail address would be drawn as the winner of the above stated amount.You would agree with me that naturally, everybody would like to play a lottery if they are assured of winning. Thus I am assuring you today that you would be a winner with my influence. Please do not take this for granted as this is a one in a life time opportunity, as we both stand to collectively gain from this at the success of the transaction. Should you be willing to Co-operation with me in this transaction please do get in contact me, so that I inform you on how to go about the registration process. Reply To this E-mail: email@example.com
Mr. Kelvin Barry,
Director Of Operations.
Euro Million Lottery, UK
NOTICE: This email message is for the sole use of the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, disclosure or distribution is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by reply email and destroy all copies of the original message.
This is one of the most typical spam messages I’ve ever seen. It has it all:
Disagreement between the name in the “from” line and the name given in the message? Check.
Disagreement between the email address in the “from” field (ldschurch.org domain) and the one given in the message? Check.
Lottery winners chosen by email address? Check.
The implication that you’re doing something not quite legal (so don’t tell anyone)? Check.
The offer to share the prize money? Check.
An email address with a Hong Kong country code? Check.
Bad English? Check.
A fake lottery based in the United Kingdom? Check.
It’s like an exhibit from the Antique Spam Museum, if there were such a thing. Let’s move on, shall we?
From: James Labonte <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Friday, June 18, 2010 6:50 AM To: none Subject: Business Proposal..
Sorry to bother you, I know we haven’t spoken before but I’m currently looking for someone trustworthy to work with me on a profitable project.
My name is James Labonte, I’m originally from South Africa but now living here in London. I moved here to work with WESTBRIDGE FINANCE & LOGISTICS as a Senior Account Manager in the audit department. Note, WESTBRIDGE FINANCE & LOGISTICS is a Finance and Security Company, they are incharge of funds of individual and co-operate bodies who do not want to disclose there wealth.And they are also a security firm as well.
The reason for my email is that myself and a colleague recently discovered an Offshore account which was opened with a large sum of money in 2004, since then there has been no activity on the account and all the contact details we have for the customer appear to be out of date, with the interest which has built up over the last few years, the balance of the account is now £17.9m.
Only me and a friend of mine, one of our audit managers know about this account and we decided to keep it to ourselves while we investigated it. It turns out that the account is in the name of a foreigner who has died. We have no details of heirs or next of kin so the money will just end up being sucked up by the security company .
As we are the only two people at the bank with access to this information and we have decided to keep it that way and claim the money for ourselves using a third party who will take the place of the deceased next of kin…. and that’s where you come in to it, of course if you are interested, We’ll do all the paper work for you and we’re pretty sure the process will be 100% risk free for the three of us. We’re able to produce any documents that will be required.
Obviously we’d be looking to take a cut of the funds ourselves, so we propose 70/30, I and my colleague will take 35% of the funds each leaving you with a very generous 30%.
Again, sorry for intruding in your email, if you are interested then get back to us with this email address email@example.com
More sender/reply-to email address discrepancies, although they did have the brilliant idea of making the sender’s name the same in both places.
This is a case of “Even If It Was Real, You Wouldn’t Want In On It.” These guys are going to embezzle millions of dollars? First, why would they choose you out of six billion people to share it with? Second, why would you want to be a part of a crime of this magnitude?
Of course, it’s not real, so you don’t have to worry about that. All you would have to worry about is how you’d replace the thousands of dollars you lost when you wired it to these clowns.
From: Jiang Jianmin <Jiang.Jianmin@ctcb.cn> Date: Saturday, May 01, 2010 2:02 AM To: none Subject: Very Important
I have a secured business proposal of $28,272,000.00.Contact me via my private email(firstname.lastname@example.org)if interested.
Mr Jiang Jianmin.
You’re not even trying, are you, Mr. Jiang?
I’ve noticed a pattern—spam and scam messages always seem to start off with “good day” or “dear friend.” I don’t think I’ve ever received a legitimate email message with either of those salutations, and I know for a fact I’ve never sent one.
* If you haven’t seen This is Spinal Tap, this is…you know what? Just go watch This is Spinal Tap. Today if possible.
From: Mr Robert Ehis <email@example.com> Date: Monday, May 17, 2010 5:13 AM To: undisclosed-recipients: Subject: Inheritance.
Please confirm if you are interseted in the Inheritance. If yes, contact me through email firstname.lastname@example.org by sending your Telephone number, full name, occupation, age, nationality and full address.
The phrase “if you are interested in the Inheritance” is sort of cute, though.
From: Octavio Orozco <email@example.com> Date: Sunday, May 16, 2010 11:25 AM To: [correct address] Subject: Look like your favorite actor. Purchase Swiss replica watches at our site. You will become rich fast if you will save you money with us.
The more original details your wear the better your look as a whole is. The cheapest prices for and Rolex, Gucci, Omega etc. watches are presented at our site.
Yes, that really was the subject line. Bit long, isn’t it?
For one thing, my favorite actors aren’t really people I’d want to look like. I’m sure they wouldn’t want to look like me, either. For another, how am I going to become rich by buying a fake Rolex? “Enter fast” was linked to a website based in Russia.
This one has to be from the same people. All-time best “cheap knock-off watch” spam I have ever seen:
From: Rodrigo Shannon <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 3:22 PM To: [correct address] Subject: Our watch will look great even on any loser.
Expensive clothing and expensive watch are the main accessories of any man. Get the original copy of the Swiss watch at our site and enjoy other’s people attention!
Click at the moment
Loser? Who you callin’ a loser, man? Is this really supposed to entice me?
And it’s not just any copy, folks, it’s the original copy. Very postmodern of them, isn’t it? “Click at the moment” linked to yet another site based in Russia.
Here’s a nice rule of thumb that applies to email:
If it contains the phrase “you’ve won,” it’s probably a scam.
I’ve never seen an email from a stranger with those words that wasn’t some goofball scheme.
Now, if you’ve actually entered a legitimate drawing and know that they might contact you via email, this doesn’t apply. But those out-of-the-blue messages informing you of the untold riches awaiting you?
It sort of reminds me of those old letters that said, “You may have already won some fabulous prizes.” The prizes were always listed as one of the following:
One million dollars
A brand new car
A “diamond-style” ring
Gee, I wonder which one of those I’ll actually have a shot at. A diamond-style ring? What exactly is a diamond-style ring? (I’m sort of lifting material from some guy I saw on Evening at the Improv 20 years ago, but at least I’m admitting it.)
However, those schemes were usually just ploys to get you to subscribe to a magazine you didn’t want. The “you’ve won” emails are usually the setup for an advance fee scam that could end up costing you thousands. Personally, I’d much rather end up with twelve unread issues of Cat Fancy.