SPAM, Viruses, E-mail and the Nigerian Scam:

This is a rather long piece to read.   If you use e-mail then it is all very important for you to know.   In the least it may educate you. It may save you some aggravation or prevent you from aggregating others.   And it could possibly keep you from being scammed or getting involved in a Federal crime.

SPAM

SPAM is unsolicited junk e-mail.

SPAM is used by scammers, thieves, porn sites, chain mailers, forgers and others selling dubious products. The first lie is that "you signed up", or "opted in" to their list. The last lie is that they will take you off their list if you respond. Everything in between the first and last word is also probably lies.

Responding to the "remove me" link on SPAM that appears to be from legitimate companies produces more SPAM.

SPAMers use forged return e-mail address often including the numerical address. They are hiding and do not want to be found. They use forgery, lies and deceit to do so. These untraceable addresses are produced by special servers hosted by countries so desperate that they endorse SPAM and are willing to do business with liars, cheats and thieves of the worse sort. These are the rogue terrorist nations of the cyberworld.

THINK about the kind of person that hides in the dark using lies and deceit before responding to any SPAM offer.
The general rule has always been not to post your e-mail address in a public place if you didn't want to get spammed. Many of us ignored that rule. Others such as myself as a webmaster have my e-mail addresses publicly posted everywhere on the many web sites I manage. But often your Internet Service Provider or someone associated with them gives away your e-mail address. The result is that we ALL get a lot of SPAM.

When you post your e-mail address on public forums where it can be read by the public OR members of the group your address is deemed public property by spammers. Spammers use programs called "harvesters" to glean e-mail addresses by the thousands from public forums. These programs work like your browser downloading pages, but instead of displaying the page they sift through the page reading the e-mail addresses and putting them in a database. The database is usually indexed by the type of forum or web site (they KNOW what your interests are).

To keep OUR users (you) safe from SPAM we instituted a e-mail encryption system on our Virtual Hammer-In and Guru's Den forums in 2001. This system lets people contact you but it prevents SPAM harvesters from using our pages as SPAM farms. It is not perfect, it is a compromise. We will be expanding this proprietary system in the future.

We do not use our encryption system in the Slack-Tub Pub because the e-mail addresses there are transient and not kept in the logs.

Even forums that require a login and password are not safe. Spammers register for every new forum and add the login and password to their harvester engine. If you have ever registered for ANY of the public forums on places like Yahoo or eGroups you will be getting SPAM within hours.

Some forums SELL your information. If their terms of service (TOS) say, "only uses necessary to provide you service", that may mean turning user lists over to advertisers (in order to pay for the service).

Our policy is we NEVER give or sell your information, publicly submitted or otherwise to ANYONE. We are very sensitive about the issue of SPAM and do not mail our users except on rare occasions. Mails to both groups may also contain an announcement or solicitation. We send this mail with much trepidation lest we be accused of sending SPAM.

SPAM will continue to exist as long as it pays and it it legal globally. Currently there are enough people naive enough about SPAM that it does pay. If everyone stopped doing business with spammers it would stop.

SPAM is legal except in a few localities. We have tried to make it illegal in the U.S. (it is not, YET). Generally in the U.S. ISP's and service providers will pull the plug on anyone found to be spamming. This has forced spammers offshore. There are actually countries that are so desperate that they encourage the business. SPAM will not stop until the majority of countries agree to make it illegal AND agree to impose sanctions on countries that harbor spammers.

Sound like the war on terrorism? It IS related, keep reading.

Viruses

Internet e-mail viruses are spread primarily (99.9999%) through Microsoft Outlook Express and Internet Explorer. Without them, most of us would have never heard of Internet computer viruses much less been exposed to them. The security problems in MS products became apparent with Windows 3.1 and the earliest versions of IE. Microsoft was told of the problems and Bill Gates ignored the warnings claiming the problems were "features the public wanted".

Now, a half dozen operating systems and versions of IE later the problems still exist.

When a virus comes in on e-mail and you are using OE or IE, the default settings do not require any action by the user to launch the virus. At that point the virus can do anything the author told it to do. These are typical virus actions: Viruses can also install password capturing systems and mail YOUR passwords to other people. These are most often sent to a public forum where anyone can pick them up that knows the address of the forum.

Viruses can also broadcast your sensitive files to anyone and everyone. The virus SIRCAM attached itself to all kinds of files that contained business, tax and medical information. These infected files are still readable when they got where they were going.

Some viruses also kill anti-virus software and interrupt access to anti-virus software sites

The most recent virus ploy used by Klez forges return addresses on the mail it sends out. That means you cannot identify the source of the mail and warn the person that is infected. They stay infected much longer and the virus is much more successful in spreading itself.

Several new viruses represent themselves as mail from Microsoft, an IE patch (to prevent viruses), games to play, interesting web sites and a dozen others. All use human Psychology to trick people into opening attachments in the event that they were not automatically launched by IE/OE.

The Newest Viruses use all the ploys used by previous successful viruses. They often use them randomly or in combination. Virus authors trade source code openly on the Internet to learn from one and other. It is no surprise that many virus authors are located in the same countries that harbor SPAM servers.

Virus can do these things ONLY because of the way Microsoft software lets them. By default OE and IE automatically open attachments, display animations or background music. Any of these can and have harbored viruses. The simplest Microsoft virus is a "macro" virus. This is a simple set of instructions recorded in MS-Word that automatically run when the mail is opened. Then OE lets the virus spread itself at will. A 10 year old can write and distribute a MS macro virus using instructions found on the web.

The authors of viruses are NOT the only bad guy. Bill Gates and Microsoft are at the top of the list because they have been harboring and supporting this cyber terrorism by continuing to produce products with huge security problems for a decade. BUT, If YOU use these products without learning to prevent viruses from spreading via YOUR computer, then you are also part of the problem.

Cyber Terrorism

Viruses are a form of cyber terrorism. The fact is that terrorist organizations that want to do economic harm to the West, and the U.S. in particular, could not do better than to launch computer viruses like Klez. The more your economy relies on computer systems and e-mail the more computer viruses cost you. Even if your systems are never infected by a computer virus they are constantly under attack by them. I am currently receiving over 100 Klez virus mails OR bounced mail as a result of Klez a day. This slows down my mail system and forces me to waste time deleting hundreds of emails (on top of the SPAM). Time that is money and lost productivity. I end up writing articles like THIS instead of about the history of anvils. . .

SPAM and Viruses

Both are closely related and one helps the other.

The SIRCAM virus became the world's number one virus overnight when a large spammer's system became infected. In a few hours it pumped out virus mail to possibly hundreds of millions of e-mail addresses. It used a very subtle ploy. "Please look at this and give me your advise". The attached file carried the virus. Millions have fallen for this ploy.

Klez uses forged return e-mail addresses. For years spammers have been using forged return addresses so that they cannot be traced. I am sure that in the near future legitimate mail servers will not let mail out without proper headers. A few already do. The fact is that the Internet community (those that write the software that makes it work) all take these issues seriously, except for Microsoft.

Blueprint for Cyberterrorism

The world stage is set.

For a few dollars you can purchase lists of hundreds of millions of e-mail addresses on CD-ROM. These are courtesy of the SPAMers and their harvester programs. For a little more you can rent a SPAM server in any one of a dozen countries. Both can be done remotely via the Internet. Then, all you have to so is broadcast your virus as SPAM.

THEN, For every ONE computer that is infected it sends itself to a hundred more. Tens of millions of other addresses, many not on the original list will receive the viral SPAM within hours. Efficiency goes down in the target country (yes you can target SPAM) and you may even interrupt communications in a few places. The cost is billions of dollars lost.

This MAY be happening now and we don't know it.

Why Anti-Virus Software DOES NOT WORK:

Anti-virus software is pretty dumb. It does NOT look at particular actions and say, "That acts like a virus". It looks for signatures, a common piece of code in the virus file like a fingerprint. To do this it must check against a growing list of all known viruses. If the anti-virus software recognizes the virus it does its job alerting the user. If NOT, then YOU are your only defense against the virus.

But to make an existing virus unrecognizable all the author (or another person) must do is change a few lines of code. Its the same old virus but the anti-virus software doesn't recognize it.

After the launch of a new virus the anti-virus industry has to have reports of and samples of the virus. They must then identify a reliable signature for the virus and add it to their identity files. And then YOU the user of the anti-virus software must download the new identity file.

The time from when a virus is launched into "the wild" and when its identity file reaches your computer may be as long as two weeks to over a month. Meanwhile you have no protection against the new virus. New viruses are showing up almost daily. Anti-virus software only protects you against old recognized viruses. So how many viruses that were spawned in the past month are unrecognizable by your anti-virus software. . . ??? Probably dozens.

In the blueprint for cyberterrorism above it would only take a few hours to reach almost every computer in the United States. The famous "Melissa" macro virus only took 8 hours to spread globally and it was not distributed widely as SPAM. Everyone running older versions of OE and IE or even newer versions with the default settings would be infected automatically and continue the spread. And a large number of naive users that couldn't resist clicking on that attachment would also become infected and spread the virus.

Many ISP's are installing anti-virus filters on their mail servers. Ours recently did so and it reduced our mail by half. I have not gotten a single virus mail or Klez bounce mail in a week. However, I DO NOT expect it to work on the next new virus. Not until some time has passed so that the anti-virus folks can create a "cure". I must still be ever vigilant.

Anti-virus software is no defense against cyberterrorism.

What YOU can do.

Stop using Microsoft products for e-mail OR learn how to properly configure them not to automatically launch viruses.

Bill Gates says it can be done in minutes, but he is a known liar when it comes to his products. I once had someone walk me through the process step by step. It took about an hour and some of it was VERY technical. I don't use Microsoft products for mail so I cannot advise you. But I CAN tell you this, if you are not VERY computer savvy AND well advised you will have a difficult time and probably screw up your computer system. So you are back to not using Microsoft programs for mail.

That also means not using your Internet Explorer browser for mail. Be sure to disable the mail in IE and remove OE from your system if you can. In Win98 you can delete the files in the OE directory.

I use Eudor-Light by Qualcomm. Its free, it works and you can turn off the nag-ware features. The free version does not have an address book for viruses to take advantage of. In either the free or licensed versions very few viruses use Eudora to spread email. None use the light version that I know of. To use Eudora you must have a regular email account usually called a POP3 account (not Hotmail or one of the other free services).

Eudora does not automatically launch attachments and embedded HTML is generally ignored except for fonts and hot links.

Set "Delete attachments automatically from trash" to ON. This will automatically delete virus payloads from deleted mail when you empty the trash. "Empty the trash" can be automatic or manual.

Eudora Light has filters you can setup if there is a particular spammer you are tired of.

I've been using Eudora for 6 years and handle all of my anvilfire correspondence with it. It does not have some of the bells and whistles of Outlook Express, but then, THAT is what makes OE a virus spreading nightmare.

I prefer to use Netscape as my browser because I dislike Bill Gates. But as a web developer I must support and test my web pages in both IE and Netscape. There are other options to IE and Netscape. Opera is popular but I have never seen it. However, it is growing in popularity so I will probably need to start supporting it soon.

IE can safely be used as a browser but you MUST be sure not to use it for mail.

The Personal Information Scam

shareyourexperiences.com : I have recieved several mails from an outfit called shareyourexperiences.com. These guys claim to have users looking for information about you. The user is kept annonymous. There is always a random sampling of requests and replies ("Looking for information", "I have information"). The fact is there is no user. These bogus records are setup by the shareyourexperiences.com (well. . they DO want your information, your credit card information). A little research found the following:
These emails claim that someone made a posting about the recipient at their website. If you then visit the site you will not find any details about that supposed posting. If you want to find out more, you're asked to sign up as a premium member, with memberships starting at $14.85 for one month.

ShareYourExperiences seems to be a reincarnation of an older money-making scheme using the Word-Of-Mouth.org domain, where people curious about what someone might have written about them may get tricked into subscribing to a useless online service. Read more about it on the Urban Legends Reference Pages (follows).

The same principle is at work with Word-of-Mouth.Org, which attempts to lure the gullible into joining their "service" by spamming Internet users with ominous-sounding exhortations similar to the message quoted above: People are filing (anonymous) reports about you! Use our service to find out what they're saying! But only a sucker would pay to find out what anonymous people are saying about him, since anybody (including the people operating the service) could be generating the gossip.

And suckers is what they're counting on. The user who follows the link to "view all reports in our system . . .
Well. . not just suckers. Also the naive and paranoid or people with a public presense on the web.

The SCAM is running under dozens of domain names such as above or "shareyouropinions.us" and includes the highly exaulted "Verisign" logo to give you a warm and fuzzy. Just shows that even the crooks can get secure server certificates. . .

Like all SPAM, clicking the remove link (or view link) just verifies that you recieved and read the SPAM. . . This scam has been around a while but this is the first I have heard of it. I was naive enough to look (but not pay) . . .

The Nigerian Scam

This scam has been around since 1983 in regular mail. Back when we were advertising a product in Byte magazine we received a piece of mail VERY similar to the following. It had the same bad English and was typed on a crooked 10th generation xerox copy of government letterhead. The offer is always for free money if you give them access to YOUR bank account. The situation changes but the money always has something to do with the government, a revolution or someone's death. And they tell you that you can get rich! The result is an empty bank account.

Examples follow. These came in one day apart, somedays I get as many as ten.
Envelope-to: greedymark@anywhere.com
Date: Fri, 31 May 2002 16:34:10 -0700 (PDT)
From: abiola williams <abiola_williams@yahoo.com>
Subject: BUSINESS OFFER TO YOU URGENT
To: guru@anywhere.com


VERYURGENT/PRIVATE

ATTN:PRESIDENT/C.E.O.

I got your contact from my brother who was a diplomat
but now late.He was once residence in your country. He
told me it confidence of your capability and
trustworthiness He gave me your information when he
was still alive.

I am Mr.Abiola Williams the present officer in charge
of operations Central Bank oF Nigeria (C.B.N) I am
contacting you in view that we might be of immense
help to each other. I have within my reach the sum of
(120.000.000) U.S.D one hundred and twenty Million
Dollars of which I intend to make you the beneficiary
of the funds.

This money in question belongs to a deceased foreign
contractor in Nigeria of which I know 100% well that
the money is hanging loose and unclaimed within the
Central Bank of Nigeria Territory. Due to my current
position as a present worker in the bank and also a
Civil servant I cannot lay claim on this money.

I wish to contact you so that you will indicate your
interest as soon as you receie this message, so that I
will proceed and put your name as the rightful
beneficiary of the funds and move the money outside
Nigeria with your name. I intend to part you with 20%
of the total sum, for your assistance while 80% will
be my own cut of the deal. Every record concerning
this funds and all the legal contract documents
backing the funds are all in my possession.

please my good friend I want you to limit this matter
personally to your self, whatever your decision might
be, all correspondence must be through this mail box.
or my private phone number 234-42-255873.This deal is
100% risk free I look forward to hearing from you
soonest.

thanking you in anticipation.

Kindest Regards
Mr.Abiola Williams C.B.N

From: "PRINCE ARTHUR EZE" <princearthureze@email.com>
Date: Sun, 02 Jun 2002 06:20:08
To:greedymark@everywhere.com
Subject: respond promptly



From the Desk of:
REV FRANKLIN EGOBIA
SENIOR ACCOUNTANT
INTERCONTINENTAL BANK LIMITED
#98 ADENIRANB OGUNSAYO BRANCH

TO: THE MANAGING DIRECTOR/CEO

DEAR SIR,

RE:TRANSFER OF THE SUM OF US$52.1M DOLLARS INTO YOUR
ACCOUNT
FIRST,I MUST SOLICIT YOUR CONFIDENCE IN THIS
TRANSACTION.THIS IS BY VIRTUE OF IT'S NATURE AS BEING
UTTERLY CONFIDENTIAL AND TOP SECRET.THOUGH I KNOW THAT
A TRANSACTION OF THIS MAGNITUDE WILL MAKE ANYONE
APPREHENSIVE AND WORRIED.BUT I AM ASSURING YOU THAT
ALL
WILL BE WELL AT THE END OF THE DAY.WE HAVE DECIDED TO
CONTACT YOU THROUGH THIS MEDIUM DUE TO THE URGENCY OF
THIS TRANSACTION AS WE HAVE BEEN RELIABLY INFORMED OF
YOUR DISCRETENESS AND ABILITY.
LET ME START BY INTRODUCING MYSELF TO YOU. I AM REV FRANKLIN EGOBIA
SENIOR ACCOUNTANT OF INTERCONTINENTAL BANK
LIMITED ADENIRAN OGUNSAYO BRANCH OFFICE LAG0S NIGERIA

I CAME TO KNOW ABOUT YOU IN MY PRIVATE SEARCH FOR A
RELIABLE AND REPUTABLE PERSON TO HANDLE THIS
CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTION AS WE ARE STILL IN ACTIVE
SERVICE.
THE PROPOSITION,AN AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL,LATE ENGINEER
PETER A.WALKER,AN OIL MERCHANT/CONTRACTOR WITH THE
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA,UNTIL HIS DEATH THREE
YEARS AGO IN A GHASTY AIR CRASH IN AN EGYPTIAN
AIRLINE,BANKED WITH US HERE AT INTERCONTINENTAL BANK
LMITED ADENIRAN OGUNSAYO BRANCH LAGOS,AND HAD A
CLOSEING BALANCE OF US$52.1M(FIFTY TWO MILLION ONE
HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS)WHICH THE BANK
UNQUESTIONABLY EXPECTS IT TO BE CLAIMED BY ANY
AVAILABLE FOREIGN NEXT-OF-KIN TO THE LATE BENEFICIARY
OR ALTERNATIVELY BE DONATED TO A DISCREDITED TRUST
FUND FOR THE PURCHASE OF ARMS AND AMMUNITIONS AT THE
MILITARY WAR COLLEGE IN KADUNA STATE HERE IN NORTHERN
NIGERIA.SEQUEL TO THIS,FERVENT VALUABLE EFFORTS WERE
MADE BY INTERCONTINENTAL BANK LMITED.TO GET IN TOUCH
WITH ANY OF THE WALKER'S FAMILY OR RELATIVES BUT
PROVED TO NO AVAIL.IT IS BECAUSE OF THE PERCEIVED
POSIBILITY OF NOT BEING ABLE TO LOCATE ANY OF THE LATE
ENGR.PETER A. WALKER'S NEXT-OF-KIN(HE HAD KNOWN WIFE
AND CHILDREN) THAT THE MANAGEMENT UNDER THE INFLUENCE
OF OUR HONOURABLE CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF
DIRECTORS,(Retired)MAJOR-GENERAL KALU UKE KALU THAT AN
ARRANGEMENT BE MADE FOR THE FUND TO BE DECLARED
"UN-CLAIMABLE" AND SUBSIQUENTLY BE DONATED TO THE
TRUST FUND FOR THE PURCHASE OF ARMS AND AMMUNITON TO
FURTHER ENHANCE THE COURSE OF WAR IN AFRICA AND THE
WORLD IN GENERAL.IN ORDER TO AVERT THIS CRUDE AND
NEGATIVE DEVELOPMENT,SOME OF MY TRUSTED COLLEAGUES AND
I NOW SEEK YOUR PERMISSION TO HAVE YOU STAND AS THE
NEXT-OF-KIN TO LATE ENGR. PETER A. WALKER, SO THAT THE
FUND US$52.1M WOULD BE RELEASED AND PAID INTO YOUR
ACCOUNT AS THE BENEFICIARY'S NEXT-OF -KIN.ALL
DOCUMENTS AND PROVES TO ENABLE YOU RECIEVE THIS FUND
WILL BE CAREFULLY WORKED OUT AND MORESO AS
PROFESSIONAL BANKERS, WE ARE ASSURING YOU OF 100%
RISK-FREE INVOLVEMENT. YOUR SHARE STAYS WHILE THE REST
WILL BE FOR MYSELF AND MY COLLEAGUES FOR INVESTMENT
PURPOSES IN YOUR COUNTRY.
IF THIS PROPOSAL IS ALRIGHT BY YOU,THEN KINDLY GET TO
ME IMMEDIATELY

THANK YOU IN ANTICIPATON OF YOUR CO-OPERATION.

YOURS FAITHFULLY,

REV FRANKLIN EGOBIA

(SENIOR ACCOUNTANT)
INTERCONTINENTAL BANK LIMITED
#98 ADENIRAN OGUNSAYO BRANCH LAGOS.



From: "munirat abacha"
Date: Sat, 08 Jun 2002 00:33:56
Subject: mutual benefit

STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

Dear sir/madam,


I am Mrs. Munirat Abacha, the wife of Mohammed Abacha,
son of the Late head of state of Federal Republic of
Nigeria - General Sani Abacha.I am contacting you in
view of the fact that we will be of great assistance
to each other like wise developing a cordial
relationship. . .
I have gotten these from hundreds of probably fictitious names, almost always from Nigeria. However this scam is spreading to other places. Thousands of people have fallen for this scam in the US alone. Usually there are payoffs to be made (Lawyer's or banking fees) and the mark ends up giving up thousands of dollars. The scam only comes to an end when the victim stops paying or runs out of money.

"Free money" may also include an inheritance or a large gift. It is ALL lies.

Most are using free Yahoo or Hotmail accounts that must be constantly renewed for their scam SPAM. But a few are starting to use profesional SPAM servers hosted by "SPAM gangs".

NEW! They have gotten more sophisticated. The scam now points you to a website and news articles about ilicit funds being tracked down and returned to Nigeria. These crooks are now using real-world situations to sell their scam. It is still a lie. These thieves do not have access to this money. They want YOURS!

KEYWORDS = Côte d'Ivoire, BARRISTER DAN OGAGA, Lagos, Nigeria, Sani Abacha, marcosbillions

THERE IS NO RECOURSE:

These people are professional thieves working in a country or countries where they either ARE the government officials or can pay them off. Outside government agencies have had no success prosecuting these people. People have actually gone to Nigeria looking for their money. . and just ended up paying more "fees" to the system for services to the same scammers! At least two people that went to Nigeria looking for their money were murdered! From the shear volume of Nigerian scam SPAM sent by free mail accounts it appears to be a national industry in Nigeria (actualy one third to one fifth of their total economy).

The amazing thing about it is that many people have NOT heard of it!

Like all other SPAM, it still works.

For more information see The 419 Coalition

If EVERYONE, stopped responding to SPAM and never, ever bought anything from a company that SPAMs, the problem would fade away. It also helps to complain to legitimate companies who's products are being sold by spamers as third parties. I have just written to one of the credit card companies that I do business with informing them that I am being SPAMed by a vender of their product. I told them that if the SPAM doesn't stop I will be forced to stop accepting that card in our on-line store AND I will announce why.

We must educate our children about SPAM. Its evil should be explained in every computer course. We must warn our parents and grandparents about SPAM and the kind of low life that uses it.

INTERNATIONAL unity of purpose and action will need to be taken to stop Cyber Terrorism and crimes spread by SPAM. Spam needs to be made illegal and action taken. If ISPs and telcos as well as individuals world wide know they face criminal prosecution then the problem will quickly and quietly go away. Countries must know they face possible sanctions such as communications blackouts if they harbor SPAM servers.

AND. . It turns out that big corporations like WorldCom support spammers on their networks and so do many other Backbone providers and ISPs. We now know Worldcom to have been operated by theives and corporate con men so it is no wonder that they embracesd SPAM. The SPAM traffic made them money. Hopefully they will go to jail for their other crimes.

STOP SPAM NOW!

Hoaxes

These can be a dangerous and as virulent as actual viruses. A typical hoax e-mail warns of a NEW virus with devastating consequences giving instructions for its removal. The file to be removed is usually some critical system file that you wont notice until you reboot your computer. The hoax also asks you to warn everyone on your mail distribution list because you may have infected their computer.

Since you DID find the so called "virus" file on your system you feel obligated to forward the mail to everyone. . .

Now YOU are the problem. You have asked everyone you know to delete critical system files. Now YOU are perpetrating the hoax.

NEVER, EVER, EVER forward a virus warning that requests ANY action on the recipient's part OR carries an attachment.

The hoax almost always quotes an anti-virus site or big computer corporation and is reputed to be from an "insider". They often have links to these sites as "proof". I have received numerous hoaxes from people that work in the computer industry that SHOULD know better.

You can go to one or more of the major virus sites and do a search for the file that is suggested to be removed. Most hoaxes are well known but they continue to circulate for years. However, even if you do not find the hoax listed DO NOT forward these warnings. If it is not listed it may just be new. Do a search on a site such as google.com or lycos. IF the item you are concerned about is new it will have probably be covered by one or more of the on-line news services.

PLEASE DO NOT post these e-mail warnings on forums OR believe warnings on forums from non-experts. Hoaxes are spread on forums as well as by e-mail.

Forwards

Every day we get mail forwarded from someone about a "good" cause or a touching story. The mail is almost never worth forwarding. Often the mail is a hoax such as the one claiming to quote various (non-existant) members of congress claiming there was a bill to tax e-mail to help support the Post Office. There is no bill, the sources quoted are bogus.

Some mail that asks to be forwarded is chain mail which IS illegal on the Internet in the US. You can be prosecuted for Federal crimes for just passing it on.

If you have something to say, write a personal letter. Investigate the facts before you act. Most of this stuff is just more SPAM. Many of us receive the same "Forward" over and over. Some bounce around for years.

Worse - most people that forward these things do not know how to use their mail programs. Their list of recipients is included in the mail. Often there are dozens of other lists included in the mail. When this tripe is forwarded to a SPAMer all those addresses go into a SPAM database. When it goes to someone with any of the new viruses, those lists all receive the virus. And it also gives everyone on YOUR list the list of people you have in your address book.

I have had business people send me notices that included ALL their contacts. Many of these may have been considered proprietary knowledge. Learn to use your mailer properly.

THINK before you forward mail.

Discover Card = Spammers

As an on-line merchant we try to provide the most flexible service possible. In that vien we started accepting Discover Card last fall (about six months ago). We no longer accept it and here is why.

Several months ago I started recieving SPAM from a company called freeze/freefinds or promotionserver. They use multiple URL's and addresses to hide behind. They are BIG time spammers. They send me mail several times a week selling everything from viagra to diet plans. Then they hit me with Discover Card. Now this is someone *I* was doing business with. And now I am being spammed by them!

I wrote to
websupport@service.discovercard.com complaining about SPAM. They responded with a typical big brother attitude,
"Send us you name and address (and other personal information) and we will put you on our do not solicit list"
I responded that I do not need to give you that information, just my e-mail address which you already have on the sample mail I sent. I also attached more samples of SPAM from freeze/freefinds/promotionserver to show them what they were dealing with. I also told them that I was merchant that accepted Discover Card and that I would stop accepting their card and announce why if they continued to SPAM me.

Then they admitted that they do business with freeze/freefinds/promotionserver and that they would have the SPAM stopped. They also said that they would forward my compliant to someone more capable of handling the problem.

The response from the manager was "Please send us your name, address. . . .

I called the Discover Card merchant office. They pretended they didn't know what SPAM was. . .

I called my merchant credit card handler and complained. They pretended they didn't know what SPAM was. . .

And the SPAM kept coming. SO, I did something that I advise you NEVER EVER DO. I responded to the "remove me" address on the freeze/freefinds/promotionserver mail. Their response after entering the form was "It may take 48 hours for this to take effect". Of course we know this is a big lie. If you enter a "DO NOT" into a database it is immediate and the mail should stop immediately. . . Weeks later the spam was still coming as it is now months later. And it is still coming in the name of Discover Card.

The spammers Discover Card uses proved to be typical liers, cheats and thieves. This is who they choose to do business with.

So we closed our Discover Card merchant account and removed the Discover Card logos from our on-line store.

We told them why and at several levels of management. I'm sure this has hurt us more than them.

The spam keeps coming. And now it is coming from other SPAM services in the name of Discover Card. The most recent one is a spammer that also deals in pornography of the worst sort as well as every Internet scam there is.

They want to do financial business with YOU! If you believe this is an honest upstanding company then maybe we can find you some Enron or Worldcom stock!

The only way to stop SPAM is to stop making it profitable. Stop doing business with spammers. We have.
NOTE (August 2002): We are now being SPAMed by VISA, MasterCARD and Office Depot through the same SPAMMERS. It seems that corporate America has embraced SPAM. At this point we do not know what to do. To stop taking all credit cards on the net is to go out of business. . . But I CAN stop doing business with Office Depot.

We have written to MasterCARD and VISA but have gotten no response.

The fact that American corporations are embracing SPAM as a way of doing business is a national embarassment and just one more piece of ammunition for those that dislike us. Corporate America is joining the Cyber Terrorists. . .

The response from MasterCARD was totaly unsatifactory. They say it is my problem with MY bank. . . It is NOT. It is one of THEIR member banks spamming everyone. . .

References and Links

SafeMail
A method to help avoid being spammed.

Trend Micro - Antivirus information
Anti-virus software, Virus Encyclopedia, How-to remove and clean up.

Housecall on-line virus scan
A free on-line service of Trend Micro. This scanner takes a while to download due to the extensive signature file that is constantly updated, but works well.

SPAM COP
Organization dedicated to eradicating SPAM.

CAUCE.ORG
CAUCE.ORG is an international volunteer organization dedicated to eradicating SPAM and promoting the passage of laws against SPAM.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission
The folks that are supposed to protect us from fraudulent trade practices.

FTC Dirty Dozen
This list of e-mail scams describes 90% of all the SPAM I get. Their other list of "Dot Cons" covers most of what is left.

FTC SPAM Site
Lists the address to forward SPAM to the government for investigation. uce@ftc.gov

419 Coalition
THE Anti-Nigerian scam (known as 419) site. Has addresses of government agencies to contact and many other details.

Spamhaus
International anti-spam site that details the major corporations that benefit from SPAM (such as WorldCom) and countries such as China as well as some major ISP's that support SPAM.

NEW! Spamdemic Full Size Map
From cluelessmailers.org. Just how complicated and interwoven the problem is. Includes major corporations that use spammers. About the Map




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Copyright © 2002 Jock Dempsey, www.anvilfire.com
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