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Issue 48 - Hoax-Slayer Newsletter

Issue 48: February, 2005

This month in Hoax-Slayer:
FBI Virus Emails – Sober K Worm

A new variant of the Sober worm, Sober K, is currently hitting inboxes around the world. A frightening aspect of this worm is that it may arrive as an email attachment that pretends to be from America's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The virus email claims that the recipient has been logged visiting illegal websites, and asks him or her to open the attached file to answer a list of questions. However, opening the attachment can infect the computer with the Sober K worm.

It hardly needs to be said that the email is not really from the FBI. According to a press release on the FBI's website, the "e-mails did not come from the FBI. Recipients of this or similar solicitations should know that the FBI does not engage in the practice of sending unsolicited e-mails to the public in this manner."

The hidden purpose of this virus message is simply to panic recipients into clicking on the attachment and inadvertently infecting their machine. Sober K can also arrive as a supposed alert email, ironically about the Sober worm itself, a fake "Delivery Status Notification" message, an email that promises free Paris Hilton videos, and a variety of other messages.

Such ruses are a common ploy used by virus creators. Worms can also arrive disguised as Microsoft security patches, free screensavers or other software, love letters and compromising photographs just to name a few.

Computer uses should always be very cautious of emails that arrive with attachments, even those that appear to be from people they know and trust. Many modern Internet worms use spoofing techniques to disguise the real origin of infected emails.

Reliable, and up-to-date, anti-virus software is an essential requirement for Internet enabled Microsoft Windows based computers.



Example:
From: FBI@fbi.gov

To: [REMOVED]

Subject: You visit illegal websites

Dear Sir/Madam,

we have logged your IP-address on more than 40 illegal Websites.

Important: Please answer our questions!
The list of questions are attached.

Yours faithfully,
M. John Stellford

++-++ Federal Bureau of Investigation -FBI-
++-++ 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 2130
++-++ Washington, DC 20535
++-++ (202) 324-3000




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MSN Phisher Scam

This scam email claims that a technical problem requires recipients to verify their identity and includes a link that supposedly leads to an official MSN website form. However, the link actually opens a fake website designed to closely resemble a genuine MSN web page. In fact, the fraudulent page may open as a pop-up on top of the real MSN site. The bogus form asks people to enter a host of highly sensitive personal information, including credit/debit card details, user names and passwords and addresses. Information entered into the bogus form will not be sent to the Microsoft Network. Instead, the data can be harvested by Internet criminals who can use it to access the victim's accounts and /or attempt to steal his or her identity.

Phisher scammers target many financial institutions and online entities almost continually. At any one time, there may be a number of different scam email versions all directed at a particular bank or online company.

Be wary of any email that asks you to provide sensitive personal information such as banking details. Most legitimate companies would not request such information from customers via email. To find out more about phisher scams and access more examples, click the link below.

Phisher Scams

For detailed information about this scam, see:
http://www.antiphishing.org/phishing_archive/01-27-05_MSN/01-27-05_MSN.html

See also:
Police warn of Internet scam
MSN Article: Protect Yourself from Phishing


Example:
Subject: Microsoft Network Warning: Your services near to be closed.

Dear MSN Customer,

During one of our regular automatical verification procedures we've encountered a technical problem caused by the fact that we could not verify the information that you provided during registration.

We urgently ask you to submit your information so that we could fully verify your identify, otherwise an access to MSN services for your account will be deactivated until you pass verification process.

To submit your information please use our secure online application - apply here (LINK REMOVED).

Thank you for using our services, MSN Payment Processing Department.

Reproduction any of the above information is strictly prohibited.
Copyright (c) 2005 Microsoft Network. (R) All rights reserved.




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Dryer Lint Filter Email

The information in the in the following email forward is basically true. Dryer sheets can, in fact, clog the lint filter in the way described. Asko appliances, has the following information on its website:

Can my lint filter be clogged even though it appears clean?
Yes, the chemicals from fabric softener sheets can clog the filter. To test this, drop some water on it, if it runs through, it's OK. If not, it's clogged. This can easily be washed away with soap and water and a soft brush. We don't recommend dryer sheets, but if you feel you need them, use only half a sheet and be sure to remove them after each load.

Also, the Asko DRYER USE AND CARE GUIDE includes the following recommendation:

We recommend that you do not use fabric softener sheets in the dryer. Over time, the chemicals on these sheets can build up inside the lint filter and clog the holes that circulate the air.

While the information about lint filters in the email is true, it is difficult to ascertain if the incident described (the conversation with "the Maytag guy") actually occurred. It may simply be a fictionally tool to get the point of the message across. In short, this tip is well worth heeding if you own a clothes dryer. If you use dryer sheets, it would be wise to scrub the lint filter periodically to remove any residue. As well, general lint build-up can be a fire hazard and significantly reduce the efficiency of the appliance.

Example:
Subject: A great tip for your Dryer

The guy from Maytag went into the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. She says she always cleans the lint from the filter after every load of clothes. (I do too)

He told her that he wanted to show her and her hubby something. He took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. Now, this thing is like a mesh - I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like - WELL......she said that the hot water just laid on top of the mesh!!! It barely dripped through it at all!! He told them that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh and that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film, but it's there.

He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. Of course if you use the liquid softener, this doesn't apply..does it?? Might not hurt to check anyhow..

He then told her that doing that makes the life of the dryer a lot longer and uses A LOT LESS ELECTRICITY!

I certainly didn't know dryer sheets would do that. Now you all know me and how I doubt all that junk people send us from the internet that once you check with SNOPES.com, you find out is just not true...WELL...this time I didn't check with SNOPES..figured I'd try it myself...so I got out my filter, ran water thru it...OR TRIED TO...but the water pretty much laid on top of the filter..very little went through..soooooooooo I got a toothbrush (not mine of course..I used Davids...KIDDINGGGGGGGG...it was an old one..lolol) and ran hot soapy water over the filter and scrubbed the daylights out of it..and now the water runs thru it like a champ..

The Maytag guy told my friend that the companies don't want to tell you about that little trick because they won't be selling heating units

As often..LOL.. ohhhhhh how wonderful corporate America can be....anyhow...hope this is good info for all of you...I sure liked getting it




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Sears Supports Reservist Employees Email Forward

The information in this email forward is true. The Sears company are indeed paying differences in pay and maintaining benefits for reservist employees who have been called to duty.

US Law requires that employers hold the jobs of a "person who leaves a civilian job for voluntary or involuntary service in the uniformed services". However, employers are not required to make up the difference between the person's normal salary and the salary she or he receives as a member of the military. Nor are employers required to maintain all of the absent worker's job benefits while he or she is away.

Therefore, it is correct that the Sears company is supporting their reservists employees well beyond the lawful requirement. According to information on the Sears Military Support Fact Sheet web page, “Sears regards service to our country as one of greatest sacrifices our young men and women can make. We are happy to do our part to lessen the burden they bear at this time.” The Fact Sheet includes details about Sears military pay and benefits policy.

It is commendable that Sears has chosen to support their employees in this way. However, it should be noted that many other American companies are making a similar commitment to their reservist employees.

Example:
Let's all shop at Sears!!!

I assume you have all seen the reports about how Sears is treating its who are called up? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up...Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years. I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution.

Suggest we all shop at Sears, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves.

Pass it on.

So I decided to check it out before I sent it forward. I sent the following email to the Sears Customer Service Department:

I received this email and I would like to know if it is true. If it is, the Internet may have just become one very good source of advertisement for your store. I know I would go out of my way to buy products from Sears instead of another store for a like item even if it was cheaper at the other store.

Here is their answer to my email......................

Dear Customer:

Thank you for contacting Sears.

The information is factual. We appreciate your positive feedback. Sears regards service to our country as one of greatest sacrifices our young men and women can make. We are happy to do our part to lessen the burden they bear at this time.

Bill Thorn
Sears Customer Care

webcenter@sears.com

1-800-349-4358

Please pass this on to all your friends, Sears needs to be recognized for this outstanding contribution and we need to show them as Americans, we do appreciate what they are doing for our military!!!!!!!!!!!



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Fake Tsunami Photo

The email forward included below claims that an attached photo depicts the Asian tsunami about to engulf a city.

A number of people who have submitted this email and picture have wondered why they have not seen such a graphic portrayal of the tsunami in newspapers and magazines. If real, such an image would surely be featured in print publications and on news websites the world over.

Of course, the reason why the image has not made it to legitimate news media is that it is a fake.

Reasons why the image can be dismissed as a forgery:

The image is most probably a photograph of a real city skyline manipulated to include the towering "tsunami".

Although clearly a fake, the image is certainly an eye-catching one. Never the less, with so many real images of the tsunami available, there is no need to pass around a blatant forgery.



Example:
Subject: FW: Tsunami @ Indonesia WHAT A PICTURE.......IT IS SO HARD TO IMAGINE!!!

Fake Tsunami Image
[Click image for full size view]




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Free Champagne Hoax Email

The email hoax included below is just one among many that claim recipients will receive something free in exchange for forwarding a message. In this case, recipients who forward the email to ten people will supposedly be rewarded with a case of free champagne from French wine maker, Veuve Clicquot.

Like similar emails, the promise of free gifts for participating is utterly untrue. The hoax has now been circulating for several years. If Veuve Clicquot were really giving away free champagne, it would have been obliged to hand-over thousands of bottles of the stuff by now - enough, I would think, to seriously erode the company's bottom-line. Smile

The absurd claim that the simple act of forwarding an email will result in a free case of champagne, or any other product for the matter, should be enough to identify this email is just another silly, bandwidth wasting hoax.

However, if any doubt remains, Veuve Clicquot itself has put the matter to rest once and for all by publishing the following disclaimer on its website:

Dear websurfer,

A promotional deal is currently on the Net regarding a free offer of a case of 6 bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne.

This is a hoax, totally beyond our control; and, of course, we are not the author. We do not gather any e-mail nor build up any database.

We strongly condemn the author of this hoax and hope that it will end.

Yours sincerely,

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin


Example:
Hello all Champagne lovers.

Send this message to 10 people, with a copy to [EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED] Veuve Clicquot France will contact you in order to deliver to you a case of champagne in three weeks.

They are doing this to enlarge their database. It does work and you receive 6 bottles in 15 days.

Salut a tous les amoureux du champagne.




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Software Review: Mozilla Firefox

Microsoft's Internet Explorer is currently the most widely used browser on Earth. All things being equal, one could reasonably expect that this widespread popularity would be an accurate reflection of the product's merits. Unfortunately, "all things" are decidedly less than equal in the world of web browsers. The major reason that Internet Explorer is so popular is simply because it is pre-installed on Microsoft Windows based computers. Consequently, many new computer users surf the web with Internet Explorer from Day One of their browsing experience. Many do not even realize that there are viable, indeed significantly superior, alternative web browsers available.

However, one browser, Mozilla Firefox, is beginning to make a significant impact on IE's gigantic market share, and the product is highly deserving of this success. In my opinion, Firefox is simply the best web browser available today. It is streets ahead of Internet Explorer, and even edges out the excellent Opera in the web browsing stakes.

Here's why:
All in all, Mozilla Firefox is an outstanding web browser that I predict will continue to gain many more users and just keep getting better and better. Even if you are a stanch Internet Explorer supporter, you might like to download Firefox and give it a test drive. You may be pleasantly surprised.

What's more, Firefox is completely free!

Click the button to find out more about Firefox and download a copy.

Get Firefox!


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List your Email Discussion Group for Free

I have recently updated a somewhat neglected area of the Hoax-Slayer site that is intended to list email discussion groups in various categories. I am now looking to populate the list with some interesting groups. If you own or moderate an email discussion group, you can have you group listed on the Hoax-Slayer site for free.

Find out how to get your group listed!

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Hoax-Slayer Humour: A husband with a computer addiction

My Dear Husband,

I am sending you this letter via this BBS communications thing, so that you will be sure to read it. Please forgive the deception, but I thought you should know what has been going on at home since your computer entered our lives TWO YEARS AGO. The children are doing well. Tommy is seven now and is a bright, handsome boy. He has developed quite an interest in the arts. He drew a family portrait for a school project, all the figures were good, and the back of your head is very realistic. You should be very proud of him.

Little Jennifer turned three in September. She looks a lot like you did at that age. She is an attractive child and quite smart. She still remembers that you spent the whole afternoon with us on her birthday. What a grand day for Jenny, despite the fact that it was stormy and the electricity was out.

I am doing well. I went blonde about a year ago, and discovered that it really is more fun! George, I mean, Mr. Wilson, the department head, has taken an interest in my career and has become a good friend to us all.

I discovered that the household chores are much easier since I realized that you didn't mind being vacuumed but that feather dusting made you sneeze. The house is in good shape. I had the living room painted last spring; I'm sure you noticed it. I made sure that the painters cut holes in the drop sheet so you wouldn't be disturbed.

Well, my dear, I must be going. Uncle George--err--Mr. Wilson, I mean, is taking us all on a ski trip and there is packing to do. I have hired a housekeeper to take care of things while we are away, she'll keep things in order, fill your coffee cup and bring your meals to your desk, just the way you like it. I hope you and the computer will have a lovely time while we are gone. Tommy, Jenny and I will think of you often. Try to remember us while your disks are booting.

Love,
Your Wife



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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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