On Tuesday night, I put my bike up for sale on bikesales.com.au. Within an hour of it going live, I get an email from email@example.com;
Sweet. I was happy to have an early enquiry, so I replied that it was available and advised that they make an offer. I soon received an email from 'Adams Dixon'... Adams? Yes Adams;
Due to the nature of my job and my location i will not be able to come
for inspection am a very busy type as i work long hours everyday,i
don't really think i need to come for a look, because i have gone
through your advertisement and i am satisfied with it so i will call
you when am chanced from work but as of now we can be chatting online
or sending emails.
And can you please confirm to me again that the item is very good
with no fault?
Was Adams trying to sell me a Paypal account? Immediately my ears pricked up and my spider sense started tingling. At this point I was unsure of what the scam was, so I held off passing over my Paypal address;
I do have a Paypal account, yes. I'm happy to accept Paypal.
The bike is in fantastic condition, seriously, like brand new.
If you'd like to call me, that'd be great - 0000 000 000.
In hindsight, giving him my mobile number was probably not the greatest thing to do. I soon received another response;
At this point, I had done a fair bit of research into Adams' potential scam and was well aware of his intentions. The idea is, that they 'pay' you an additional $1000 (advised only through an email) and you are required to forward on the extra $1000 to their 'shipping agent'. I emailed him my Paypal address.
A day went by and no Adams.
This morning, Thursday, I check my mail when I get in and notice a couple of emails from 'Paypal'. The first is hilarious. Subject is 'IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM PAYPAL' and the email is written in comic sans (maybe? my font-fu is not great,) the greatest part is that at the top of the email, Gmail has advised that 'Images are not displayed' and would I like to display images from 'firstname.lastname@example.org' - A security feature with several benefits. I have screen shot it to give you the full effect.
I had also received another email too, an 'Instant Payment Notification' from 'Paypal'. This email was interesting as it advised;
This is to inform you that you are required to send a sum of $900.00 AUD to the address below via and get back to us with the relevant information which you will be provided with after the money has been sent, you are requested to email us the Mtcn (Money Transfer Control Number) , sender's name and address used to make the transfer and the and answer.As soon as we have received these information from you, we will credit a sum of $10,500.00 AUD to your PayPalaccount.Below is the address where the money is to be sent to using western union money transfer.
Agent's Info: David Williams,
7 Iship Yard Building,
There's the money shot, right there. There was more about the requirements on me to make this payment to David Williams in the email, but that was the killer.
There was also a couple of emails from my mate Adams;
And this one;
7 Iship Yard Building,
Please kindly email the necessary details to paypal :the mtcn which
you will be given at the western union after the $900 has been sent as
well as the sender's name and address used to send the money through
western union,so i can forward it to paypal or better still you can
email it to paypal directly.
When doing a WHOIS on the IP address from which the 'PayPal' emails were sent, I found that Adams lives in Mauritius and was sending through Yahoo servers. I sent an email to Adams;
officeemail.net ? Surely you can do better than that.
Not to mention using Yahoo servers.... Terrible. I expected more.
I was hoping I could send him something, so I could attempt to get him as well as the dudes from SomethingAwful.com got their scammer; The Powerbook Prank
The thing that concerns me about this is how many innocent people do get taken by these people.
Lessons to be learned;
- Dont trust anybody. Ever.
- Contact Paypal if you are ever unsure. Their support are hard to get hold of but take security very seriously and will advise you of any issues they can see.
- Dont send money to people in another country unless you are buying something from them.
- Dont trust anybody.
I received an email from 'PayPal' yesterday...
One of the benefits of using PayPal is that we make every effort to alert you to potentially problematic transactions. Our goal is to help you make sound business decisions.
A review of recent transactions indicates that you entered into an agreement with Adams Dixon by requesting money through PayPal, which shows that the PayPal account holder have authorized the payment you received.
We would like you to learn more about this transaction. It is important we know the status of the item bought concerning the information we requested from you, otherwise LEGAL ACTION may be taken against you since you have not replied to the confirmation of payment made to your account by her over time.
However the buyer has already contacted us in other to make report about your non response. We are ensuring to make PayPal a safer place, therefore we need to set confidence on our users. We use proprietary technology - and constantly innovation - to help ensure every transactions are safe.
We strongly advice you to send the money through western union money transfer and send the proof from WESTERN UNION by sending us the MTCN number and also a scanned copy of the paper receipt given to you at the post office or online to prove that the money has been sent in less than 24hours so that we can credit your account by releasing the PENDING payment or you face the consequences of LEGAL ACTION.
We have placed a temporary hold on the funds until the verification is complete.
Case Number : PP-304-718-247
Transaction ID : 0TR19308DU070732T
Response deadline : 18/04/2010
PayPal Email ID PP943
Again, the email was sent from 'email@example.com'. Things to note;
- Why, oh why, would Paypal be forcing me to use Western Union?
- "We strongly advice you to send the money" - Surely Paypal have english staff who can construct sentences better than this... ?
- Why would the response deadline be the same day that the email came through? Ooooh, seems Paypal doesn't get the 'timezone' thing (Sydney is +10, so ahead of almost all other countries.)
- "We have placed a temporary hold on the funds until the verification is complete." - Hold away, I sold the bike to somebody else.
Almost an hour ago (or maybe more) one of the worlds most popular blogs, mashable, posted about Google Ads for Terrorism. Basically, Googles automated ad server, which picks up on keywords and displays ads based on those words, seems to advertise a lot of bad stuff.
eBay had this problem for a long time. A Google search for 'live slaves' would bring up eBay ads for 'Cheap Live Slaves!'. Fortunately, they have now been removed and the only ads for 'Live Slaves' now are for women. Phew.
Anyway, so I was thinking to myself, that if one of the worlds largest, most popular blogs posts about something that is very offensive to a lot of people and being perpetrated by the worlds largest and most respected internet behemoth, they are likely to fix it quick smart, right? Wrong. The thing is, this has been happening for a while A quick search on Google reveals hundreds of thousands of results. Interestingly, the first link I clicked on that criticised Google was apparently a malware site.
I continued to the site anyway despite the multiple full page warnings. There were a bunch of great examples of this approach to automated ad campaigns;
Surely, in this extreme technological period. The worlds largest online company can come up with an algorithm that would stop this from happening. I personally, having never been directly affected by terrorism, dont find it very offensive, more surprising. Still, I find it very odd.
A judge has let a bunch of Greenpeace activists off the hook after they did 35,000 pounds damage to a coal plant. In their defence, they stated that the plant will do much more damage than that in the future and were all found not guilty.
Thats right folks. Breaking news! Ferrari's are greener than Prius' according to Ferrari's CEO Amedeo Felisa. He states;
"The combined emissions of all Ferraris sold in a year are less than those of all Toyota Prius sold in a year. So the net effect of Ferrari on global warming is less than a Prius."
That means that I can go and buy my GTR back and rest assured that because I don't drive it much, its better than the majority of Prius'.
Secret files, photos and plans have been found on a camera bought on eBay in the UK for £17. The files included profiles on al-Qaeda members, weapons plans and even Guantanamo Bay detainee’s. My only explanation can be that an MI6 operative put the wrong memory card in their camera before selling it. Obviously they don’t pay MI6 op’s enough or they wouldn’t need to sell the camera.
Now, this was in the news a week ago. I’ve been slack, I know.
In a story published today by the Sydney Morning Herald, they talk about an Australian bloke living in Africa and his contributions to the global society as a whole. He owns wikileaks, which, until now, was unheard of by myself. It is a site that allows confidential contributions by whistleblowers all over the world. There have been amazing documents submitted to the site, including many US military documents.
The truth is out there, no matter how covered up it may be.
Nice work Julian, you are now in my list of heroes.
A new KML file for Google Earth by David Tyrse allows you to visualise the deforestation occuring globally. He also has one for Oil Spills.
Good on her. If she gets sued, there'll be a mass of donations to pay for it. Mine included. Thumbs up from me, Nadia. I love the shirt.