Let’s Play Spot the Scam

IMG_0235I just received an SMS message on my phone from +37240017000:

call for free your number has been selcted [sic] to win 50000$ call us 0037240017000 now this is your chance

Based on the country code that SMS originated from Estonia. I don’t know anybody from Lithuania and my phone is on the Vodafone network in Ghana. Occam’s Razor says this is most likely a scam rather than my newfound Estonian friends wanting to send me $50,000.

I don’t know exactly how this scam works. Is calling the number enough to somehow have charges placed on my phone? I don’t know. My bet is that it is a flavor of 419 scam where I have to give these nice people my bank wire details and then rather than wire transferring money into my account the wire money out.

Remember kids, if someone has your account number and routing code, they can initiate the transfer in either direction.

Also, you should always avoid replying to SMS messages for “contests”. These can be set up to charge you a fee for the SMS just like you can text the Red Cross or NPR to make a donation.

For people with more time than I have, there is a scam baiting community which aims to make the 419 scam unprofitable for the fraudsters. Its pretty entertaining to read.


Barack’s people are tracking clicks

Emails sent by Barack Obama’s people often have URLs in them.


That’s fine but Mr. Obama’s people use a phishing technique where the link displayed is not the real link. My mail reader converts the emails to plain text by default, so it is obvious.


The text “http://my.barackobama.com/Haiti” is actually linked to some obscure URL at my.barackobama.com. This URL probably encodes information about the page to display as well as my identity. It is almost certainly there so that the people running my.barackobama.com can track my behavior if I were to click this link.

This is nothing new. Mr. Obama’s people have been doing things this way since the campaign and it is a common technique for tracking the behavior of people in email marketing campaigns. It has always bugged me, though, that Barack Obama does this.

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