Monday, March 27, 2006

The ongoing stupidity of phishers

I now have four email accounts: Yahoo (the oldest since 1999), RoadRunner (nee Bright House), Google Mail (GMail), and my work email address. They make for interesting comparisons, specifically what kind and how much spam gets sent to each.

The Yahoo account, being the oldest, receives the largest quantity. It's not unusual to get over 50 spam emails/day. I use the Yahoo account as my 'trash' account when I'm signing up for technical information and when I'm placing orders on-line. I use my other accounts for various levels of personal communications with family, friends, and co-workers. I get various levels of spam email on the other two public accounts, and none (so far) on my work email.

Not only does the quantity vary between accounts, but the type of spam varies as well. The Yahoo accounts get a little of everything, including pr0n. The RoadRunner accounts seems to get a large percentage of penny stock investment scams, while the GMail account seems to get a large percentage of phishing spams. That phishing spam consists of warnings from the Federal Credit Union, eBay (a real favorite), PayPal, various banks such as Washington Mutual, and recently, a lot of warnings from Chase or Chase Manhattan.

The most recent spate started showing up Sunday, March 26th, and they all start out like this:
Your online credit card account has high-risk activity status. We are contacting you to remind that on March 27 2006 our Account Review Team identified some unusual activity in your account. In accordance with Chase Bank User Agreement and to ensure that your account has not been compromised, access your account was limited. Your account access will remain limited until this issue has been resolved.
That's a wonderfully scary opening. There's just two problems with this opening, however. The first and biggest blunder is that I received this second warning a day before the first was supposedly sent. The second is I don't have an account with Chase Manhattan. Never had, as a matter of fact.

And of course, I've gotten multiple copies of the same email, all on the same date and all with the same message. I even got the same exact email from, where Chase Bank was replaced with PayPal.

The other peculiarity I've noted is that the number of phishing emails dropped quite a bit through most of March. They've been replaced with on-line pharmacy scams. There was even a spate of phishing emails from Chase Manhattan promising to pay me $20 if I took an on-line survey. Of course, you should (obviously) be able to take this survey only once.

The fact that these spam still show up are a good indication that there are still people falling for these type of phishing attacks. Sending out spam is still a no-cost way of casting for victims, and all it takes is a few in a large operation to make it worthwhile. And I'll bet that a 'few' victims actually numbers into the thousands. I just don't intend to be one of the many.


This came floating in today."Chase Bank Account is fraudulent and it will be suspended" screams the subject. It goes on to say:
You have received this E-mail because you or someone else had used your Account from different locations. For security purposes, we required to open an investigation on this matter.

Oh my! What am I going to do? The email ends with:
If we do not receive the appropriate Account Verification within 48 hours , we will assume this Chase Bank Account is fraudulent and it will be suspended.
Wow! Those guys are tough! Too bad I don't have an account with them. I'd feel so ... safe if I did. They also need to polish the grammar up a bit, especially in the opening sentences. It's tough writing well. I'm certainly no shining example, but I do know good grammar when I read it. Bad grammar blows their 'cover' every time. I'm especially driven to grind my teath when I read sentences that have improper tense or missing words. But their efforts are entertaining.

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