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Issue 17 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 17: April 2nd, 2004
This week in Hoax-Slayer:
Safe Internet Banking

I've been doing my banking on the Internet for quite some time now, and I've never had any sort of problem so far. I find it saves me a great deal of time and inconvenience. Unfortunately, the steadily increasing rate of Internet scams has made a lot of people understandably wary of running their finances online. And in fact it is not uncommon for Internet Banking users to lose money to scammers. However, in the great majority of cases, the success of these scams is a result of the naivety of the user and / or poor knowledge and implementation of computer security. Of course, no one can categorically guarantee Internet Banking is completely safe, and Internet Banking users must accept that there is a certain element of risk. Having said that, in my opinion, those who follow a basic set of security practices can significantly reduce this element of risk.

I have outlined some basic security practices below:




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Phisher Scam hits Loyds TSB

UK financial institution, Loyds TSB is the latest target of phisher scammers. Customers of the bank have reported receiving fraudulent emails that request recipients to provide sensitive banking information. The email falsely claims that a new security system is being implemented. In an attempt to make the email seem authentic, the scammers have included the bank's black horse logo.

A link in the scam email opens a screen that asks for the customer's banking User ID, Password and other information. Like other genuine financial entities, Loyds TSB would never request this sort of information from customers via email.

The fake emails are not being sent specifically to Loyds TSB customers. Instead they are randomly sent to thousands of Internet users and count on the probability that some of the recipients will be Loyds TSB customers. This is the usual method used by phisher scammers.

Loyds TSB has information about the scam email on its website.



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Perfume Hoax Emails

This old hoax has been in circulation for quite some time. Someone has been kind enough to create an Australian version (included below) of the hoax especially for those of us who reside down under. Very similar hoax emails that use US place names have been hitting inboxes since at least 2000.

In 1999, a woman claimed to have been assaulted and robbed by assailants who use a debilitating substance disguised as perfume. The story soon made its way to the Internet and spread rapidly as a "warning", even though there were no reported cases of such attacks happening again. In fact, even the original story may have been untrue.

Another version of the hoax claims that people have actually died from sniffing perfume samples that were mailed to them. In these emails, terrorism rather than robbery is the suggested motive. An example of this version is also included below. No such deaths have ever been reported and the claim that governments are covering up the story is very hard to believe.

Robbery Perfume Hoax:
Subject: Safety message - Ether - This is real and very important!

This may not be happening in Darwin, you might not take it seriously but I've passed it on, you now all know about it. For your personal safety - Take this seriously, I (Simon) know someone who was approached last week after taking $500 out of an ATM by some guy who asked what perfume she was wearing. They asked her if she wanted to buy some Cheap imitation and to have a smell (she declined). These guys hit Sydney and Melbourne 6 weeks ago and now they are doing it here in Perth. I received this email and thought you may want to advise your partners, daughters and friends this experience also happened to one of my son's friends in a Rundle Street Car Park recently......fortunately, she had heard about it before & didn't fall for it. I was approached yesterday afternoon around 3.30pm in the Coles parking lot at Surry Hills by two males, asking what kind of perfume I was wearing. Then they asked if I'd like to sample some fabulous scent they were willing to sell me at a very reasonable rate. I probably would have agreed had I not received an email some weeks ago, warning of a 'Wanna smell this neat perfume?' scam. The men continued to stand between parked cars, I guess to wait for someone else to hit on. I stopped a lady going towards them, I pointed at them, and told her about how I was sent an email at work about someone walking up to you at the malls, in parking lots, and asking you to sniff perfume that they are selling at a cheap price. THIS IS NOT PERFUME - IT IS ETHER! When you sniff it, you'll pass out and they'll take your wallet, your valuables, and heaven knows what else. If it were not for this email, I probably would have sniffed the "perfume", but thanks to the generosity of an emailing friend, I was spared whatever might have happened to me, and wanted to do the same for you. IF YOU ARE A MAN AND RECEIVE THIS PASS IT ON TO ALL THE WOMEN YOU KNOW!!! Ladies this happened to me yesterday and I didn't smell the perfume either



Terrorist Perfume Hoax:
IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SEVEN WOMEN HAVE DIED AFTER INHALING A FREE PERFUME SAMPLE THAT WAS MAILED TO THEM. THE PRODUCT WAS POISONOUS. IF YOU RECEIVE FREE SAMPLES IN THE MAIL SUCH AS LOTIONS, PERFUMES, DIAPERS, ETC. - THROW THEM AWAY!

THE GOVERNMENT IS AFRAID THAT THIS MIGHT BE ANOTHER TERRORIST ACT. T HEY WILL NOT ANNOUNCE IT ON THE NEWS BECAUSE THEY DO NOT WANT TO CREATE PANIC OR GIVE THE TERRORISTS NEW IDEAS.

SEND THIS TO ALL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS.






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Watch out for W32.Netsky.Q@mm

Over the last few weeks there have been so many variants of the Nestky worm and others that the people responsible for naming viruses are soon going to run out of alphabet!

One to especially watch out for at the present time is W32.Netsky.Q@mm. Symantec has given this worm a rating of three out of five. The worm uses its own SMTP engine to send itself to email addresses it locates by scanning the drives of the infected computer. A security vulnerability on certain unpatched systems means that a computer can become infected even if the user simply reads or previews the message.

The "from" line of the email carrying the worm is spoofed and the subject, body and attachment names vary. The attachment will have the extensions exe, .pif, .scr, or .zip.

Read more about this worm.



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Google Web email? No Hoax!

Search Engine giant, Google, is perhaps regretting the timing of a press release regarding a new web mail service. Because of the slightly flippant tone of the press release, the promise of a massive 1 gigabyte email account for free and the April 1st release date, the Internet was soon buzzing with the rumour that the story was an elaborate April Fools Day hoax.

However, according to subsequent news reports, this is no hoax and Google really is planning such a service to be called "Gmail". Google has a lot of information on their website about Gmail, including a list of frequently asked questions. A web mail service that offers such a large amount of space coupled with Google's outstanding professionalism and innovative approach is sure to be a winner. Gmail will allow users to store up to the equivalent of 500,000 pages of email, which is pretty amazing when compared with the paltry size limits of other webmail services such as Hotmail.

Read the press release.

Read a news article about Gmail.



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Humour: Light Bulbs and Mailing Lists

Those of you who are members of discussion lists like Yahoo Groups will know that the following is not that far from the truth at times (grin).

Mailing list users changing light bulbs

Q: How many internet mail list subscribers does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Exactly five hundred.

1 to change the light bulb and to post to the mail list that the light bulb has been changed.

7 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently or to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs.

17 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs.

21 to flame the spell checkers.

49 to write to the list administrator complaining about the light bulb discussion and its inappropriateness to this mail list.

20 to correct spelling in the spelling/grammar flames.

32 to post that this list is not about light bulbs and to please take this email exchange to alt.lite.bulb.

69 to demand that cross posting to alt.grammar, alt.spelling and alt.punctuation about changing light bulbs be stopped.

41 to defend the posting to this list saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this mail list.

106 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique, and what brands are faulty.

12 to post URLs where one can see examples of different light bulbs.

8 to post that the URLs were posted incorrectly, and to post corrected URLs.

2 to post about links they found from the URLs that are relevant to this list which makes light bulbs relevant to this list.

15 to concatenate all posts to date, then quote them including all headers and footers, and then add pointedly, "Me Too."

6 to post to the list that they are unsubscribing because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy.

9 to quote the "Me Too's" and happily add, "Me Three!"

3 to suggest that posters request the light bulb FAQ.

1 to propose new alt.change.lite.bulb newsgroup.

24 to say this is just what alt.physic.cold_fusion was meant for, leave it here.

53 votes for alt.lite.bulb.



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The Hoax_Slayer Newsletter is published by:
Brett M.Christensen
Queensland, Australia
All Rights Reserved
©Brett M. Christensen, 2009
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