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Nasty New eBay Scam Message (From ‘cdaniel’)

Moments ago I received a nasty new eBay phishing scam message in my e-mail. I wanted to post this right away and try to get the information out there on this scam as soon as possible.

This one claims to be a message from a fellow eBay member called ‘cdaniel’ and makes claims about someone using your eBay account to make charges on his credit card. He talks about taking legal action in order to stir up a little panic in his victims.

The eBay member name he used in the message I received was ‘cdaniel’ and it is possible that he will use other phony eBay member names as well.

This is not a message from an eBay member, it is a scam designed to get victims to visit his web site and make them believe they are on the eBay web site so he can capture eBay username and password information.

To verify that you have no messages from other eBay members, simply log in to your eBay account (make sure you go the actual eBay site and not some phishing site!) and check for messages there.

To see the message I received, check the bottom of my Phishing Scam page.

Pookmail Service Is Worth A Look

I’m always admonishing my readers to set up a ‘throw-away’ e-mail address if they are planning to send any ‘friendly comments’ to spammers or sign up for newsletters or other services on the net that require an e-mail address.

With a throw-away e-mail address, that you can get free from many places like Yahoo! or Hotmail, you can discard the e-mail address when the volume of SPAM being sent to it exceeds your tolerance level. You can simply sign up again with a new throw-away e-mail address if you are subscribed to any newsletters or mailing lists that you actually want to continue receiving.

There is a service called PookMail that may make things even easier for you.

You can sign up free with PookMail, and create your own PookMail e-mail address, and use that as your throw-away e-mail address.

The only problem that comes to mind right away is that PookMail addresses will become well known as throw-away e-mail addresses, and a lot of places that require e-mail address registration will begin to reject PookMail addresses.

In that case, I suspect that the PookMail folks could simply register a bunch of other domain names to offer to their users until the e-mail collectors wise up to that, and then the cycle would probably repeat itself.

Using a more typical throw-away e-mail address (like Yahoo! or Hotmail) will probably help avoid that problem, although I have occasionally run into sites that do not accept e-mail addresses from domains that are well-known as free e-mail service providers.

However, many of the larger ISPs like Comcast are now offering multiple e-mail addresses for each customer that can easily be created and deleted via a web-based control panel.

Since there is no way anyone demanding your e-mail address could reject an e-mail address associated with a major ISP (like Comcast), without turning away many legitimate registrations, it is very unlikely that you will have trouble using a throw-away e-mail address like that.

At any rate, PookMail looks like it is offering a quick and simple solution to those seeking a throw-away e-mail address. It’s probably well worth a try.

Domain Registry of America

If you own any Internet domain names, chances are very good that you have seen one of these letters show up in your mailbox (your ‘real’ mailbox, not e-mail). I have received these letters for many of my domains over the past year or so.

I would not go as far as calling this a scam, but in my opinion, there are some deceptive tactics being employed here. I have no reason to believe that they won’t do what they say they will do, and re-new a domain registration as they claim. They’re also probably quite capable and happy to register new domains as well.

The problem I have with their campaign is this: Their letters and the envelopes used to send them appear to be designed to make them easily mistaken for some type of official government agency communication.

As you can see from all the legal stuff on the back of the letter, they make it a priority to make it known that they are not affiliated with the U.S. Government. And you will become aware of that fact just as soon as you turn the letter over and fetch your reading glasses so you can read the tiny print that was used.

I recall the first time I received one of these letters. It was probably close to a year ago, and I recall being somewhat alarmed to see a notice like this show up in the mail. At first glance, it is quite easy to assume that this is some kind of ‘official’ notice from a government agency or Internet regulatory agency. My first reaction was along the lines of ‘What’s the problem with my domains’?

Upon closer inspection, I realized it was just a private domain registry company that was doing their best to convince me that I should re-new my domain registrations through them. Considering their prices, the chances of that happening are approximately zero.

That’s the other big problem I have with these people. As you can see from the most recent letter I received from them, they are charging $25.00 a year for a domain name. That may not sound too terribly bad unless you don’t already know that you can get a domain name for around $7 a year, and probably even a bit cheaper in some cases. Which means these guys are charging almost 4 times more for a domain name than many other well-known and reputable companies.

I was recently talking with another webmaster on the phone who had received one of these letters. He’s a very busy guy, and does not have a lot of time to be reading through his mail. He was completely taken in by one of these letters, and had set it aside with the rest of his bills, intending to pay it later.

When he told me about the letter, I told him what the letter was really all about. He was not a very happy camper when he heard what I had to tell him. Now this is not some dope I am talking about here. This other webmaster is a very intelligent guy. The kind of guy that has been known to read books about quantum physics and actually find the subject interesting. For the record, I’m the kind of guy that would not make it beyond page 1!

I can only imagine the tremendous volume of letters these people are sending out, and since this has been going on for a while now, I think I can safely assume they are making a nice profit charging people way too much for domain names.

Much like the recent ‘SPAMIS’ spammer, these people are trolling through the domain registration records and sending these letters out to domain owners whose domains are scheduled to expire within the next few months. Mine showed up addressed to a ‘pen name’ I happened to use to register one of my other domains.

If you receive one of these letters, just keep in mind that you can get a much better deal on your domain registration renewal in many other places. Despite their encouragment to take advantage of their “best savings,” which is apparently to renew your domain name with them for 5 years and pay $85.00!

Hmmm, pay them $85.00 for the exact same thing I can get somewhere else for around $35.00? Does not sound like much of a deal to me. I’d have to say that the best deal you can get for yourself after reading their letter is a brisk walk to the shredder to put it where it belongs.

If you are in need of domain renewal or registration services, just do a quick search on Google or Yahoo! for ‘domain registration,’ and you’ll find many cheaper alternatives.

P.S. What a coincidence! Going to the Yahoo! page, I see that they are currently offering a domain registration for $4.98 a year. Helps put the “Domain Registry of America” offer in perspective, doesn’t it?

Some of Them Just Don’t Quit!

I can see that there is still at least one mentally disturbed spammer out there who continues to fool himself by believing that his pathetic attempts to attack me with e-mail viruses is going to have some effect.

Yesterday I received a fresh batch of e-mail messages with virus-infected attachments. I am also seeing some evidence that he is sending this stuff out to other people using my e-mail address as the return address.

Apparently, he wants me to be blamed for the crap he is sending out. So far, I have not heard from anyone complaining about receiving anything from me. In addition, I have been using the net a bit too long to be opening e-mail attachments sent from addresses that I do not recognize.

So, as I outlined in a recent post, be careful about what you say to a spammer because some of them are obviously a bit unbalanced.

In this case, there is no real harm done since I find this stuff interesting (from a psychological standpoint if nothing else!) and the e-mail account that is being affected is one that I no longer use.

To my spamming little friend out there if you happen to read my blog: You’re going to have to come up with something a lot better than your current bag of tricks to do any real harm . Keep it up. At least it gives me something to write about here!

Another Work-At-Home Scammer Revealed

Since I’ve been blabbing about work-at-home scams of late, I thought I’d touch on the subject again at least one more time.

I responded to another work-at-home ad on the craigslist.com web site. Again, this one was worded to sound like the person responsible for the ad was actually offering a job. And once again, this was, to put it simply, a lie.

To see the original ad, click here. I should point out that this scam stuff that is posted on craigslist.com should not be interpreted as a slam against craigslist.com, because I actually really like their site. It must be nearly impossible to keep the scammers from posting there since their system is so open and easy to use.

As I so often point out, there is always a minority of people waiting in the wings to come along and do their best to ruin a good thing for everyone else. One of the nice things about craigslist.com is that anyone who visits the site can essentially ‘vote’ on the listings there by flagging a particular listing as ‘Miscategorized,’ ‘Prohibited’ or ‘SPAM’. You can see that on the top right portion of the ad I linked to above.

I have just checked the craigslist.com site and I see that the ad in question has been removed. No doubt that is due to the number of people who have flagged it as ‘Prohibited’ or ‘SPAM,’ since that is obviously what it is.

This time the e-mail message I received in response to my inquiry was from someone claiming to be named ‘Ariel,’ but for all I know, it could be the same scammer I was in touch with a few days ago. The e-mail message was very basic and not worth posting since it was so brief, but for the record, it was from: priceprocessing@hotmail.com

The message included a link to a web site that had all the information I would need, or so I was told! I knew pretty much what to expect before I checked out the site, and sure enough, they are selling the usual ‘training’ materials, which are most likely quite useless.

If you’d like to check out this particular work-at-home scam web site, you can copy and paste this text into your browser: http://www.geocities.com/priceprocessing/

I did not make this a live link since I have no intention of providing them with a free link, which can help improve their ranking in the search engines.

I wouldn’t find these types of scams so offensive if their original advertisement was not so deceptive. As you can see, they include language like: ‘Must be serious about wanting to work from home.’ in order to lend a little credibility to the ad. Clearly, this ad was worded to make readers think it was an actual job offer.

And I must say, the free ‘GeoCities’ web site and free ‘HotMail’ e-mail address are a real professional touch. Come on, you can get your own domain and decent web hosting (with many e-mail addresses included) these days very cheaply. Perhaps they have not yet made enough money scamming people to afford their own domain and hosting package.

Seeing these free web sites and e-mail addresses is always a good indication that you are dealing with a typical work-at-home scam.

This one is very representative of the classic work-at-home scam, so it provides and excellent example of the kind of crap to avoid if you are seeking some kind of work-at-home job opportunity.

The World of Affiliate Marketing

To most Internet users, the word affiliate probably does not mean too terribly much. But whether you know it or not, you’ve been exposed to a lot of affiliate marketing if you spend any time surfing around various web sites.

Like most things in life, there are good things and bad things about affiliate marketing. Some of the good things are the informative and helpful sites that are built by honest, hard-working affiliates that make a lot of useful information available to online consumers.

The bad things are, as you might expect, the unscrupulous affiliates who will do or say almost anything in order to complete a sale. A lot of the SPAM you receive hyping various products from Viagra to cheap software, is sent by affiliates. Most affiliate programs forbid the use of SPAM, however, there are those that will allow just about any method that might result in a sale.

What is an affiliate program? Basically, it is a program that is set up by someone who wants to sell something, and use other people (affiliates) to help market the product. Some of the most well-known affiliate programs were started by companies like Amazon.com and eBay.

The most basic form of affiliate marketing involves web site owners who put advertising banners on their sites. For example, if I were involved with the Amazon.com affiliate program, you might see some advertising on my site for some real estate or consumer oriented books that are for sale at Amazon.com.

If you were interested in one of these ads and clicked on it, you would arrive at the Amazon.com web site with a special code embedded in the link that was used to bring you to the store, and identify my web site as the one that hosted the ad you clicked on.

If you decided to purchase one of the books, I would get a percentage of the profits that Amazon.com has earned from that sale. It’s an ingenious way for companies to use the vast expanse of the Internet and creativity of web site owners to market their products.

Some affiliate programs also make use of ‘cookies,’ which are small snippets of code stored on your computer that tells a particular web site that you have learned about their site from a advertisement on an affiliate marketer’s site. That way, the affiliate marketer gets credit for the sale if you decide to make a purchase.

Some Internet users are a bit paranoid about cookies, and although there is cause for some concern, the majority of cookies used on web sites are harmless, and are used for things like saving your login settings for web sites that require it, and for tracking affiliate links.

Cookies can, and surely are, abused by some web site operators and are used to track what other sites people are visiting and other questionable purposes. These are most likely in use by sites that try to infect your computer with adware or spyware.

I should also mention that anyone who is buying products through an affiliate link is not charged any more than any other customer. There is no additional cost involved to pay the affiliate marketer. The affiliate marketer just gets a percentage of the usual price if the customer arrives at a site by following a link on an affiliate marketer’s site.

In case you were wondering, yes, I do a little affiliate marketing myself. There are sections of this site that are primarily for affiliate marketing purposes. However, in both cases, the products I am marketing are products that I own and use myself, and have a very high opinion of.

I would not advertise products I do not believe in on my site. Sure, I could join up with a hundred different affiliate programs (it is not difficult to do) and plaster colorful, flashing banners all over this site, but I feel a lot better about advertising a product that I use and feel good about.

In case you were wondering, one the affiliate marketing programs I am involved with is for DISH Network.

More on “SPAMIS”

It appears that the character behind these strange “SPAMIS” spam messages that have been showing up recently is indeed trolling through domain registration records for e-mail addresses as I suspected.

I have received another one of these “SPAMIS” messages on another e-mail address I have used only to register domains, and for no other purpose. That makes two of these messages I have received at two separate e-mail addresses like this.

Since this guy is a well-known professional spammer, he is most likely using some kind of automated procedure to cull the e-mail addresses from domain registration records.

I’m sure this is not a brand-new tactic on the part of the spammers. If there is an effective way to gather e-mail addresses, yo can be sure that the spammers know about it.

It looks as if I may have to start changing the e-mail addresses perodically on my domain registrations. Since my hosting account allows for hundreds of e-mail addresses, it won’t be a major problem. It will just take a little time for me to log into my hosting account and make the changes.

If you have a hosting account that allows you to set up forwarding for e-mail addresses, it will make it a lot easier than setting up a full mailbox. I do this with the addresses I use for my domain registrations and just point the forwarding to one of my “real” e-mail addresses.

This Week’s Scams

This week saw the arrival of a run-of-the-mill Bank of America phishing scam and a rather unique eBay phishing scam that I had not seen before.

In addition, I received the expected ration of 419 scams, including unoriginal (and uninspiring) works from “Khalid Ali Hassan” and “Saleem Mohd Ahmed Mohd.”

These, and other fascinating works can be viewed on the 419 Scams and Phishing Scams pages.

Spammer Spotlight

Not long ago I started receiving what appears to be SPAM e-mail messages from someone claiming to be from an organization called ‘SPAMIS.’

They were not the typical SPAM messages I receive for penny stocks, Viagra or cheap software. These seemed to be geared more towards some kind of ’cause,’ which was not adequately explained, other than an apparent hatred for Microsoft.

These messages are also written in such a way that make me suspect that the author is not a shining example of mental and emotional stability. There is just something about them that seems a little ‘off,’ if you will.

You can read the latest version of this unusual SPAM here.

When I received this one, I decided to do a little digging and see if I could figure out what it was all about.

Apparently some mental defective by the name of Robert Soloway lost some kind of lawsuit involving Microsof,t and has taken it upon himself to dispense his own brand of revenge on the software Goliath.

Mr. Soloway, as it turns out, is uniquely qualified to spearhead this type of effort, since he is also well known as one of the world’s most prolific spammers. That, evidently, has something to do with the aforementioned lawsuit.

So why am I writing about this here? Well, just to give people on the Internet another place to read about a jackass named Robert Soloway. I figure he deserves all the fame that the Internet can provide, since he is responsible for invading the e-mail in-boxes of millions of people the world over.

By the way, the e-mail address he used to contact me was one that I set up specifically for the purpose of using as the contact address when I register a new domain. I do not use this e-mail address for any other purpose.

Be sure, when you register a new domain that you set up an alternate e-mail address to use if you want to avoid these low-life spammers like Soloway, who troll through the domain registration records for e-mail addresses.

If you are interested in reading more about this character, along with a few entertaining comments regarding the punishment he should receive in return for being a world-class spammer, take a look at this site.

My (Brief) Conversation With A Scammer

I decided to reply to the work-at-home scammer I talked about yesterday and tell her what I thought of her little scheme. I basically told her that no legitimate work-at-home job opening requires the applicant to pay, and that I wondered how she was able to sleep at night, knowing that she is taking advantage of people who are looking for work.

She replied a short time later. You can see her reply here.

Needless to say, I felt compelled to respond to her. The fact that she had the nerve to take the ‘excuse me’ approach with me for questioning her scam left me virtually no choice!

I responded and told her that she could call her scam anything she wanted, but it was still a scam. I also challenged her to tell me exactly what it was someone would get for her ‘one time fee’ of $9.95. I wanted to give her a chance to educate me about this ‘opportunity.’

I also told her that I could no longer locate her ad on the craigslist.com site, and that was probably due to the fact that too many people reported her advertisement as the scam that is obviously is. I asked her to let me know if I was mistaken, and let me know where on the site her ad currently resides, if it has not been removed.

Although she is no doubt just another scammer out to victimize people searching for work-at-home jobs, there is one thing she said that I actually believe. Towards the end of her message to me she says, ‘It might not be a real 9-5 job in an office but for me
it is a real 9-5 job at home.

I don’t doubt that at all, but unfortunately, her ‘job’ consists of scamming people out of their hard-earned money.

I have not yet heard back from her in response to my last e-mail message, and I would be surprised if I did. She’s obviously too busy regsistering new Yahoo! e-mail addresses and writing new versions of her scam ads to post on job-seeker sites to waste time arguing with someone who is obviously wise to her scam.