How to Spot Email Scams

A good column written by John Dvorak over at the PC Magazine site talking about email scams. He provides a list of things to do to determine if it is bogus or not. They are:

1) Does the information come from a shady source? Is there a reference to someone you do not know? Is the wording about the original source vague and breathless, such as, “This came to my attention after I was told that…”

2) Was the message cut and pasted from someplace else?

3) Did someone tell you to pass the message far and wide to everyone you know?

4) Is screwball stuff misspelled?

5) Within the post, is there a disclaimer? (The best one is: “This is not a hoax!”)

6) Does it seem plausible on the surface but your gut tells you it is bogus? (Your immediate BS meter is always correct! Fine tune it.)

7) Does it somehow encourage you to make a fool of yourself by either posting the hoax or passing it along to others? If you are asked to take action out of the blue by a casual acquaintance, then it’s likely a hoax.

8) At the end of the day, is the hoax idiotic when you really look at it closely?

The full article an be read here:,2817,2412537,00.asp

Email PayPal Scam

A PayPal scam this time. I received an email purporting to be from PayPal. It was sent to the correct address and looked exactly like emails I get from PayPal. It said the transfer of $13,438.62 was being held for security reasons and to click the “Accept” or “Decline” buttons.

Oddly the transfer was listed as being to I think I know what email addresses are valid at my own company. Also one sentence had incorrect English.

The buttons both went to the same non-PayPal address where I am sure they would either infect my computer with some sort of malware or would have tried to get my login information for PayPal.

Email Scam

These email scams seem to come in clumps. Received an email today from a hotmail account purporting to be sending me invoices for my end of August statement. It has an attachment that is an HTML file that will undoubtedly infect you with something if you open it. The body message is in poor English as well which is always a dead give away.

Email Scam

These guys are pretty clever. This scam involves a fake order from Amazon. I was notified just moments ago that the Samsung 40″ HD TV I ordered was shipped and will arrive on the 21st. Of course I didn’t order a TV from Amazon. Of course the email provides MANY links to click to get information. All of them lead to the same web site that is not Amazon. The email is pretty convincing looking exactly like an email one would get from Amazon. The email address it came from is not Amazon however. They made no attempt to fake the email address this came from so it’s pretty obvious it’s not from Amazon.

Quickbooks Scam

It’s been a couple of weeks since the last scam alert I posted. Got a new one today. A fake email from Intuit that states you need to get a security update or you won’t be able to access your Quickbooks data anymore. The link provided takes you to a web site not remotely connected to Intuit where you will undoubtedly be infected with something nasty.

Once again people, don’t ever click on links in emails.

Email Scam

This week’s scam. You receive an email saying <someone’s email address> has just sent you an ecard from (or some other ecard place). There is a link to click that looks like it will take you to said ecard but if you hover over the link and look at where it will actually take you you will see it goes to someplace completely different and most likely will infect you with malware. Once again, don’t click on links in emails people, no matter what they say or who they appear to be from. Ever.

FBI malware scam

Seems all I am doing these days is warning people about “Today’s scam”. Welcome to the Internet I guess.

So, today’s scam is a bogus FBI warning that, of course, asks for money. From the FBI:

THE UNITED STATES Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has alerted the public about a virus named Reveton that issues fake FBI warnings demanding infected victims pay to unlock their computers.

Reveton is described as “drive-by” malware due to its ability to activate and install itself when users visit a compromised web site. Unlike most viruses, it doesn’t need to install a file or attachment.

Once it has infected a victim’s PC, Reveton then locks their computer, saying the user is in violation of US federal law.

More information can be found here:

I have also been receiving emails this week thanking me for my order from some company I have never heard of with a link to check said order. Obviously when you click said link you are infected with some malware or virus. These emails all say the same thing but come from different people and companies.

I suppose we won’t see the end of these scams until people stop blindly clicking links. Yeah, that will happen.

New Internet Scam
“Drive-by” malware installs easily, locks computers, and demands payment.

Facebook Scam

Another Facebook related scam. If you receive an email claiming you have been tagged in a photo on Facebook don’t click any links. The link could take you to a site that infects you with malware. Some of the emails have “Faceboook” spelled with 3 o’s.

I personally received one of these emails last week. When I hovered over the link it was to some site not remotely connected to Facebook so I deleted the email.

Facebook scam

A new Facebook scam exploits your desire to get a free pair of Oakleys sunglasses. Don’t just blindly click on suspicious links. Remember: if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.