16 February 2012

The anatomy of a scam

I just received this e-mail:

Note the return address and then note the instruction for me to "activate my PayPal account" through the helpful, secure link provided. This e-mail even warns me about ne'er do wells who want to steal my information.

Interesting because that's precisely what they want to do, despite how official this e-mail looks. This is an attempt to empty my checking account, the virtual equivalent of someone holding a gun to my back while I'm at an ATM.

Once you have an activated account with PayPal, your bank, a credit card or anything else, you will never get an e-mail like this. Always check the return address and NEVER click on a link that's asking you to log into one of your accounts anywhere.

What these people are attempting is highly, highly illegal but the internet is a pretty vast place and the long arm of the law can only extend so far.

Online life gave me a career I could have never imagined ten years ago and internet access is a true marvel. However, a healthy dose of skepticism has never been a more important asset. Question every unsolicited e-mail you receive and be careful out there.


  1. Scarily realistic and thanks for the warning. When you read this stuff carefully, you always catch the wonky writing. Like I doubt PayPal would use the word "fraudsters." The whole last couple sentences don't even really make sense.

  2. The whole thing's full of typos and bad constructions. But most people skim their e-mails, they don't read them. The thieves out there know that and count on it. I want to turn these people into some law enforcement authority but I don't know it would do any good.

    Scammers like this engage in the crimes they do because they work. Everybody needs to beware of this sort of thing.

  3. Simple rule: Never follow a link from an email. Got to your PayPal (or whatever account the fraud is trying to spoof) and log into your account the way you always do. If there's something to be dealt with, you'll be notified from within your account.

  4. If you sell something using Paypal, be aware you can even receive a bogus notification that you've been paid.
    It looks exactly like what you'd receive from Paypal, but if you check, no funds have gone into your account.

  5. Grrr. These people need to be flogged.

  6. I like that you're a "Dear Costmuer"...always my first clue. :)


Talk to me!