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HTMLfixIT Archive for the ‘Phishing and Criminal Behavior’ Category

Monday, October 17th, 2005 by Don

Michigan officials have raided an alleged spam operation seizing computers and records. It will be interesting to see if there is a noticeable difference in spam received in the short run, or is this merely a drop in the bucket? The man who’s business has been closed by the seizure describes himself as a commercial mailer and claims through his attorney that he has spent a lot of money to keep his business in compliance with the federal can spam act. All I know is that every day I get hundreds and often thousands of emails for products like mortgages, viagra and natural enlargement remedies (by the way, does anyone know if those remedies can be used cumulatively?). I am happy for any break in the unwanted commercial email.


Thursday, October 6th, 2005 by Don

For once it might actually be true. The government is hot on the trail of spyware placement organizations according to this story in Oneida Dispatch, a Cleveland area news outlet. Ironically when you go to read this story they will jam you with a pop-up. The company the FTC is after says that the end users clicked to authorize the intrusion. Nobody would knowing agree to that stuff as it brings your computer to it’s knees.


Monday, September 19th, 2005 by Don

Last Winter/Spring there were a rash of thefts of laptops from colleges that contained students personal information. One at Berkley was solved, in part, recently when a man in possession of the laptop was arrested. Of course who knows how many copies of the data may have been made before it got to this chap. We also read about several other similiar thefts about that time including one at Grand Rapids Community College (see other news for this one). To our knowledge that one remains unsolved at the present time.

1 Comment »

Friday, August 26th, 2005 by Don

Domain names are a thing of much confusion. Microsoft has spent years chasing down people using similiar names to theirs to confuse people (supposedly). In the latest big case on domain name similarity, the owner of (two letter “l’s” in both places) is permitted to keep his website up and running to the displeasure of (one “l” in the first instance). The reason was simple according to the United State Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit panel: is clearly adverse to and not easily confused with because of the clear disclaimer of non-affiliation and because the content is actually critical of the latter’s site.

1 Comment »

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005 by Don

Microsoft has a very good article explaining phishing, a common scheme to defraud people of their personal and financial information. Unfortunately despite a clear explanation and some solid advice on what to look for and what to do if you think you have been a victim of such activity, they miss the most critical step for avoidance – use plain text for reviewing emails.

The phishing emails use a two very common techniques: first, they use graphics from a legitimate website such as a bank, ebay or paypal to appear to be the real website. Second, they use something called uniform resource locator (url) masking to make a link appear to go to the legitimate site, while actually redirecting elsewhere. Both of these techniques only work if you view your email in Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) format. If you disable HTML formatting and view the email as plain text, the mismatched url’s are immediately apparent and you will be much less likely to fall for the scam.

In Outlook Express for example, you can select to review your email in plain text mode by clicking on Tools, then Options and selecting the Read tab. Check the box next to “Read all messages in plain text.”

We highly recommend that you not use either Outlook or Outlook Express for email. You will do much better for many reasons with Thunderbird, a free email client available for download from Mozilla. Even in Thunderbird, you need to choose plain text by clicking on View, Message Body As and then selecting Plain Text. Note that Thunderbird also offers an intermediate option called simple html which will apply basic formatting, but avoid the display of images and other items such as counters embedded in the emails to detect if you are reading the emails.

Some commercial emailer’s insist on sending email in html format. We encourage the avoidance of these sources. Most however offer you the option of selecting plain text. Plain text is much more bandwidth intelligent and will help you avoid phishing and many other difficulties not discussed in this article.

Remember: plain text


Wednesday, August 10th, 2005 by Don

This image appears on a Chicago Website showing people accused of soliciting for prostitution. It should be noted that these are merely the accused and they are innocent until proven guilty. This information will be removed 30 days after posting from that site:
3000 W 47TH ST
720 ILCS 5.0/11-15-A-1

It is interesting that they only appear to go after the normal guys. Where are the white-collar businessmen?

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Wednesday, August 10th, 2005 by Don

Today I saw an item on Ebay that was listed for “buy it now” at a price about one-fifth of the true value. The key things I noted, besides the fact that the deal was too good to be true, was that the listing provided a email address and asked that all correspondence be directed there. In addition, it asked that no correspondence be directed through the ebay contact system and said the item would be delivered to the first person arranging payment of the $6550 purchase price. I bet more than one person allowed their greed to get the best of them and transfer the money for the item that I am convinced does not actually exist. In checking the user feedback for the seller, it is 100 percent positive. I am convinced that someone ripped off the users name and password to allow them post under that persons username. I immediately reported the likely scam to local law enforcement as well as the fraud site listed on ebay.

In discussing this with local police officers in the fraud team, they advised me that something called atm card skimming was of growing concern in the United States. I didn’t know of it prior to today, but it is very ingenious and nearly impossible to observe for even a well trained eye. See this site for more on this issue. Meanwhile, be careful and never act on something too good to be true!

Comments Off on Credit Card Skimming – a growing type of fraud

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