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Issue 34 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 34: 12th August, 2004

This week in Hoax-Slayer:
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Hoax-Slayer is a Free Monthly Web-Based Newsletter brought to you by Brett Christensen

The Hoax-Slayer Newsletter keeps you informed about the latest email hoaxes and current Internet scams. Hoax-Slayer also features anti-spam tips, computer security information, pertinent articles and more.

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Lottery Scammers Net More Victims

An 87-year-old pensioner in the UK has been duped out of 60,000 by lottery scammers. She is just one of many victims that have been caught by this scam. I have received well over a hundred lottery scam emails over the last few weeks directly from the scammers. Many readers and site visitors have also forwarded examples or described surface mail versions of the scam they have received.

Basically, these scams work like this:

You receive an unsolicited email or letter which states that you have won a major prize in an international lottery. Supposedly, your name or email address was attached to a random number that was subsequently entered in a draw for the lottery. In order to claim your prize, you are instructed to contact the official "agent" in charge of your case. You are also advised to keep the win confidential for "security reasons". This part of the scam is basically a random phishing expedition. If you respond in any way to the message, the scammers will send further messages or even contact you by phone in an attempt to draw you deeper into the scam.

You may be asked to provide banking details, ostensibly to facilitate the transfer of your winnings. Sooner or later, the scammers will request some sort of advance fee supposedly to cover administration, legal or delivery costs. This request for money is the main purpose of the scam. At its core, this scam is just a reworking of the Nigerian loan fraud, in which scammers also eventually ask for upfront fees to facilitate the "deal". Like Nigerian scams, victims who do actually pay the requested fees will probably find that they receive continuing payment demands to cover "unexpected expenses". The requests for money will go on until the victim realizes what is happening or has no further money to send.

The details of the lottery scams vary regularly with regard to the name of the lottery itself, the country of origin, the sponsoring organization, the amount of the "prize" and other particulars. The scammers try to add a patina of legitimacy to their claims by mentioning real financial institutions, government departments or well-known companies. They may also provide links to slick looking, but fraudulent websites that are designed to back up information included in the scam messages. If the scammers are successful in establishing a dialogue with a potential victim, they may provide "proof" such as a scanned image of a supposed government official's ID and even photographs of the "winnings" in cash.

If you receive one of these scam messages, it is important that you do not respond to it in any way. The scammers are likely to act upon any response from those they see as potential victims.

More lottery scam information and examples.

Reference:
PENSIONER, 87, LOSES 60,000 IN LOTTERY SCAM

A recent lottery scam email is reproduced below:

ATTN: FROM THE DESK OF LOTTERY COORDINATOR,

We are pleased to inform you of the announcement today Friday 6th August 2004, of winners of the INTERLINK LOTTERY PROMOTION THE NETHERLANDS /INTERNATIONAL, PROGRAMS held on 17 July,2004. Your email address attached to ticket number 023-56678230954, drew the lucky numbers 7-14-21-42-49-59, batch number 6858/NL and consequently won the lottery in the 1st category. You have therefore been approved of a lump sum pay out of EURO 850.000 (Eight Hundred and Fifty Thousand Euro) in credited to file LOTTERY REF NO.SGIL/763276/03. This is from total prize money of Euro 20,000,000.00 shared among the seventeen international winners in categories C with serial number: IL/FLW/12-C033721192.All participants were selected through a computer ballot system drawn form 25,000 company email addresses and 30,000,000 individual email addresses from Australia,Africa, New Zealand, America, Europe, North America and Asia as part of International Promotions Program, which is conducted annually. CONGRATULATIONS! Your fund is now in custody of a financial Security company insured in your FILE REFERENCE. Due to the mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep this award strictly from public notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your account.This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participants of this program. This lottery program was promoted by our group of philanthropist here in Netherlands. We hope with a part of you prize, you Will participate in our end of year high stakes EURO 5,000,000 million International Lottery.

To file for your claim, please contact our fiduciary
agent: Mr. Fredrick Haidara.
Phone: 0031-623-870-907
E.MAIL: interlinklottery2004@europe.com
Please be aware that your Paying Authority will Effect
Payment Swiftly upon satisfactory Report, verifications and validation provided by our processing Agent; that would be designated to your file. For due processing and remittance of your winning prize to your designated account of your choice. Be informed that all prize money must be claimed not later than 27th October 2004. After this date, all funds will be returned as unclaimed. NOTE: In order to avoid unnecessary delays and complications,you are to contact MR. John Smith with followings details below:
1. Your full names, telephone, contact address and
2. quote your reference/batch numbers in any correspondences with us or our designated agent.

Furthermore,should there be any change of your address,do inform your claims agent as soon as possible. Congratulations once again from our team of staff and thank you for being part of our promotional program.

Yours sincerely,
Mr. Rogers West
Lottery Coordinator

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New Zealand Version of Perfume Hoax

A New Zealand version of the long running perfume robbery email hoax has emerged. There has also been a version set in Northern Ireland. The original versions of the hoax began circulating in the United States back in 1999. Since then, enterprising hoaxsters have changed some of the details to fit their local environments before sending the emails on.

In 1999, a woman claimed to have been assaulted and robbed by assailants who used 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.

A copy of the New Zealand version is included below:

Subject: Fw: women friends

This has been forwarded onto me....pass onto as many people as poss..this is no joke

To all my female friends-

It was about 3 weeks ago, I was at the Shell station in Lower Hutt getting gas. It was about 11:30pm. I was approached by 2 men and 2 women in a car. The man that was driving asked me 'What kind of perfume do you wear?' I was a bit confused and I asked him 'Why?' He said 'We are selling some name brand perfumes, at cheap prices.' I said I had no money. He then reached out of the car and handed me paper that was laminated; it had many perfumes on it. I looked quickly at it and gave it back. I said, I have no money. He said it is OK, we take check, cash or credit cards. Then the people in the car began to laugh.

I just got in my car and said no thanks.

Then I received this e-mail yesterday and it sent chills up my spine.

Please read this.

It is not joke.

Here is the e-mail I was sent-

Dear Friends:

I know not all of you are women that I am sending this to, but am hoping you will share this with your wives, daughters, mother, sisters, etc. Our world seems to be getting crazier by the day. Pipe bombs in mailboxes and sickos in parking lots with perfume. Be careful. I was approached yesterday afternoon around 3:30 PM in the Westfield car park in central Lower Hutt when two males asked 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 e-mail 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, pointing at them and told her about how I was sent an e-mail at work about someone walking up to you at the malls or 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. They'll take your wallet, your valuables and heaven knows what else. If it were not for this e-mail, I probably would have sniffed the 'perfume' but thanks to the generosity of an e-mailing friend, I was spared whatever might have happened to me. I wanted to do the same for you.

PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO ALL YOUR WOMEN FRIENDS AND PLEASE BE ALERT AND BE AWARE. IF YOU ARE A MAN AND RECEIVE THIS, PASS IT ON TO YOUR WOMEN FRIENDS.


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Windows Update Reminder

If you have not visited Windows Update recently it is advisable that you do so as soon as possible. July 2004 updates address security issues discovered in Windows Operating systems. These issues can affect Internet Explorer and Outlook Express.

For more information see: Windows Security Updates for July 2004

It is very important that Windows users ensure that their computers always have the latest security patches available. Read a guide to updating your system.

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Virus Report: Weekly Virus Wrap-Up

The list below represents some of the most significant new virus threats identified by Symantec Security Response over the last few days.

A new variant of the Beagle worm, W32.Beagle.AO@mm, is spreading fast. This worm has hit one of my email accounts hard and I have received dozens of infected emails. The worm searches the hard drive of the infected computer and sends itself using its own SMTP engine. The attachment contains a downloader that retrieves the worm itself from external sources. The "From" field of the infected email may be spoofed. The body of the email may contain the message "New price".

The attachment may be named one of the following:
08_price.zip
new__price.zip
new_price.zip
newprice.zip
price.zip
price2.zip
price_08.zip
price_new.zip

Another current threat is a mass-mailing worm called W32.Lovgate.AN@mm. The worm can spread via network shares.

The attachment in infected emails may be one of the following:
MacroMedia.pif
Butterfly Garden.scr
Matrix Reloaded 3D.exe
s3msong.MP3.pif
MyIE.AVI.pif
WindowsXP Creak.exe
Macromedia Flash.scr
Photoshop.EXE
Shakira.zip.exe
dreamweaver MX (crack).exe
StarWars2 - CloneAttack.rm.scr
Industry Giant II.exe
HyperSnap-DX v5.rar.exe
joke.exe
MSN Messenger.e
xe FlashFXP.exe

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Crying Baby Hoax Still Circulating

A new wave of the old crying baby hoax emails appear to be circulating. The email claims that a serial killer is luring women out of their houses to their ultimate demise by playing a recording of a crying baby. Neither the Australian version nor the US original have any basis in fact.

The hoax email claims that the story was "mentioned on Crime Stoppers". This is not true, nor was it mentioned on America's Most Wanted as claimed in the US version.

The earlier US version of the hoax began circulating in January 2003. The rumour may have original arisen out of fear generated by the activities of a real serial killer active in the US state of Louisiana. A website about the Louisiana serial killer notes that "Although the method of entry has not been determined, we have never had any indication that a tape recording was used."



Australian Version:
Don't open your door if you hear a crying baby!!!

Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird. The police told her "Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." The lady then said that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over. The policeman said, "We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." He told her that they think it is a serial killer. The man has killed 2 girls in Sydney and is now in Melbourne and has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside their doors when they're home alone at night. Please pass this on! and DO NOT open the door for a crying baby.

This e-mail should probably be taken seriously because the Crying Baby theory was mentioned on Crime Stoppers this past Saturday when they profiled the serial killer in the vicinity of Footscray/Fitzroy,South Yarra area.



US Version:
Subject: Alert! Crying Baby

Very creepy

I am not sure if this is true or not...but its scary enough to think about. I checked out both my hoax sites and it isn't listed...

Someone just told me that her friend heard a crying baby on her porch the night before last, and she called the police because it was late and she thought it was weird.

The police told her "Whatever you do, DO NOT open the door."

The lady then said that the baby had crawled near a window, and she was worried that it would crawl to the street and get run over.

The police said, "We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door." He told her that they think the serial killer has a baby's cry recorded, and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking that someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls by women saying that they hear baby's cries outside of their doors, when they're home alone at night.

Please pass this on! and DO NOT open the door for a crying baby.

This e-mail should probably be taken seriously because the Crying Baby theory was mentioned on America's Most Wanted this past Saturday when they profiled the serial killer in Louisiana.


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Tip of the Week: Google News

Ok, so I admit it! I'm a hopeless Googlephile. So its not surprising that I believe Google News to be the best online news source around (grin).

From the Google News About page:

Google News presents information culled from approximately 4,500 news sources worldwide and automatically arranged to present the most relevant news first. Topics are updated continuously throughout the day, so you will see new stories each time you check the page. Google has developed an automated grouping process for Google News that pulls together related headlines and photos from thousands of sources worldwide -- enabling you to see how different news organizations are reporting the same story. You pick the item that interests you, then go directly to the site which published the account you wish to read

An excellent feature of Google News is the ability to set up News Alerts. Google News Alerts are sent by email when news articles appear online that match the topics you specify. This can be a terrific time-saver if you trying to stay informed about certain types of information.

Check out Google News.

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Feedback from Readers and Site Visitors

If you receive a hoax or scam email, I would appreciate it if you would send me a copy.

Thanks again to all those who responded to my request in last week's issue by recommending the newsletter to friends. I hope you enjoyed the eBooks. If you would like to recommend the newsletter - and get hold of a few free eBooks for your trouble - follow the link below for details:
Recomend Hoax-Slayer

The article about the falsely reported death of American Idol's William Hung was one of the most popular on the Hoax-Slayer site this week. The death rumour has generated a lot of debate on message boards and discussion groups across the Internet.

I've also received many enquiries about the Share Your Experience emails that have been hitting inboxes lately.

Thanks to all those who have sent in examples.

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The Hoax_Slayer Newsletter is published by:
Brett M.Christensen
Queensland, Australia
All Rights Reserved
©Brett M. Christensen, 2008
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