Sunday, May 23, 2010

Michael Verster: 9-years-old Missing Child From Pinetown, South Africa - - Reality of The Mail Spreading Recently

Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Summary:

Circulating message claims that 9-year-old Michael Verster is missing from his home in Pinetown, South Africa.

As a result of careful and detailed investigation; foound that the information in the message is true. Nine year old Michael Verster went missing in Pinetown, South Africa on 28th April 2010. Michael was last seen getting into a car outside his school soon after his mother dropped him off. If you have any information about this case, please contact South African Police. Contact details are provided on the flyer included below.


Subject: FW: Missing Boy Michael Verster 9 yrs KZN this is not a hoax and he has not been found yet!

Hi there everyone,

Before I sent this out today I actually phoned the number on the flyer for Pine Town Police and I was told that yes Michael Verster is definitely still missing and I was asked if I could please send this out.



Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Explanation:

A missing child alert for 9 year old Michael Verster is currently circulating via email and social networking websites. The information in the alert is true. The alert generally takes the form of an attached flyer that contains information about the case along with photographs of Michael and police contact details. The flyer notes that Michael Verster, of Pinetown South Africa was last seen getting into a car outside his school soon after his mother dropped him off for the day.

An 18th May 2010 Newswatch item on Durban's EastCoastRadio website notes:
It has been an agonizing 21-days for a Durban woman.

Her son, 9-year-old Michael Verster, has been missing since someone picked him up outside school at Pinetown 15-minutes after she had dropped him off.

Monique Verster says fellow pupils saw the little red-haired boy jumping into a car with an unknown man.
The report also notes that police have no solid leads in the case.

Another May 18 news report about the case published on the TimesLive website reveals that the missing boy's parents are involved in a custody dispute. The article notes:
Michael's mother, Monique, said she dropped her redheaded son at Pinetown Primary School early on April 28.

"Someone from the school called to tell me Michael was not in class and that his friends saw him willingly jump into a car with a white man shortly after I had dropped him," she said.

She is convinced that her child's abductor is not a stranger: "Michael would never go near a stranger," she said.

The police widened their search to Vereeniging, Meyerton, Pretoria and Vanderbijlpark when they discovered that the boy's father, whom Monique and the police refused to name, lives in Gauteng.

Warrant Officer Mazwi Mbatha said the boy's father had told police he did not know where his son was.
If you have any information about Michael Verster's disappearance or whereabouts, please contact the South African Police Service (SAPS) via the contact details on the above flyer.

Facebook Group Titled "becoming a father or mother was the greatest gift of my life" - - Email Hoax Claiming The Group Operated by Pedophiles

Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Summary:

Message circulating on Facebook warns users not to join the group titled "becoming a father or mother was the greatest gift of my life" because it is operated by a group of pedophiles intent on accessing your Facebook photographs.

In fact, this warning is totally meaningless. There is no Facebook group like the one described in the message. Several groups using the same or very similar names have been created, but only in response to this warning message. These are not pedophile groups but simply poor taste prank groups designed to capitalize on the reaction caused by the original warning message. Posting this warning to other Facebook users is utterly pointless.

The message is very short and concise and looks like:


Fox 4 news reported... ATTENTION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
do not join the group that runs currently on facebook with the title "becoming a father or mother was the greatest gift of my life" This is a group created by pedophiles whose aim is to access your photos!!!!!!!...!!!!! Please rotate ...this post to all Your Friends on Facebook xx


Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This rather breathless message has been rocketing around social networking website, Facebook for several weeks. It warns Facebook users not to join a group named "becoming a father or mother was the greatest gift of my life" because it is operated by pedophiles. Supposedly these dastardly individuals want users to join their group so that they can then gain access to photographs that the users have on their Facebook profiles, some of which may depict children.

However, this warning is utterly pointless. It is nothing more than a hoax and has no basis in fact. I began researching this "warning" very soon after it first started to circulate. At that point, there was no such group on Facebook. Predictably, however, pranksters apparently could not resist creating such groups entirely in response to the bogus warning message. In short order, several Facebook groups were created that used names derived from the name specified in the original warning message. Although in poor taste, these groups are not pedophile groups, but simply pointless pranks designed, apparently, to provoke a reaction from Facebook users. Unfortunately, the creation of such prank groups has given totally undeserved credibility to the original warning message and ensured that it continues to spread.

To add to the confusion, other groups have been created which have the sole purpose of protesting against the pedophile group discussed in the original warning. Since this pedophile group never existed in the first place, these protest groups are beyond pointless. These groups - both copy-cat and protest - tend to spring up and disappear quite rapidly. Joining such groups just encourages such pranksters and helps to continue the spread of such nonsense.

Some versions of the hoax message claim that the warning was reported by Fox News. However, this claim is false. The warning has not been reported by Fox News or any other credible news outlet.

In any case, if you take reasonable precautions to keep your Facebook profile information private, simply joining a Facebook group is not going to give the group creator access to your photographs. Moreover, pedophiles would tend to be much more canny and clandestine with regard to their activities. They are hardly likely to create a publicly accessible Facebook group that clearly identifies them as criminal pedophiles. As every parent and guardian should be aware of, pedophiles certainly do use Facebook to attempt to communicate with and "groom" potentially vulnerable youngsters. If we are going to allow children to use Facebook at all, then, as parents and guardians, we should carefully monitor what contacts they are making and what information and images they are sharing. However, spreading around utterly pointless warning messages like the one discussed here does nothing whatsoever to address the real and important issue of children's safety online.

Sadly, Facebook is becoming more and more a vector for the spread of half-truths, misinformation and outright nonsense. Before posting on a warning message that you have received via Facebook, please take a few moments to check its veracity via a credible source.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

ScamChecker: Free Online Service - - Designed to Help You Make a Decision About Whether It’s Safe to Buy From An Online Store

ScamChecker is a free online service which is designed to help you make a decision about whether it’s safe to buy from an online store you’re worried about. Just fill in the checkmark boxes and see the odds of it being a fraudulent shop.

From my experience, the first sign to look out for is whether they accept Paypal or not. If they do, they’re most probably OK. If they don’t, watch out (especially if they specify Western Union payment or refuse credit cards).

Also check out this page of over 5700 scam domains in China (do a CTRL-F to search for a name you’re worried about). It’s not infallible, scammers shut down old and register new domains regularly, but it’s a start.

All you need to do is look through the suspect website for particular features. If you find them, tick the corresponding box in the checklist. To help you through the process, there is also a guide written to further explain, it’s up to you if you want to use it. If the Checklist says the website is a scam, then yes we think the website is a scam, you don’t need to email me to be sure.

Monday, May 17, 2010

FIFA 2010 WORLD CUP LOTTERY: Winning Notification of $2.8 million - - Another Lottery Scam to Reap The Benefits From FIFA World Cup 2010

Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Summary:

Message purporting to be a "winning notification" from international football association FIFA, claims that the recipient has won two million eight hundred thousand dollars in the FIFA 2010 World Cup Lottery.

The cyber culprits always try to reap the benefits from the big events like 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. In the last month; an article was posted here at 'Beware! Its a Cyber World'; alerting internet users that cyber crimes are on the rise as the FIFA World Cup is approaching.

In fact, this email message is also a part of that cyber crime wave which is not from FIFA and the supposed lottery does not exist. The message is a scam designed to trick recipients into sending money and personal information to Internet Criminals.

Let's have a look to the mail contents and attachment (a certificate in pdf format) here below then we'll proceed towards the detailed analysis and explanation:



Dear Winner,

We are pleased to announce to you as one of the 3 lucky winners in the FIFA 2010 AWARD draw held on March 31ST 2010. All 3 winning addresses were randomly selected from a batch of 5,000,000 international emails. Your email address emerged alongside 2 others as a 3rd category winner in this month's draw.

Consequently, you have therefore been approved for a total pay out of $2, 800,000, 00 USD (Two Million Eight Hundred Thousand United State Dollars) only.

The following particulars are attached to your lotto payment order: (i) BATCH NUMBER: FIFA-SA/40/UK-0079
(iii) PIN: 2131

Here are the details required from you:
YOUR FULL NAME:……………………….
MOBILE NUMBER:………………………...
EMAIL: ………………………………………

Please contact the under listed claims officer as soon as possible with your details for the immediate release of your winnings:
Contact Person: Name: Chris D. Benjamin
Tel: +44 703 180 0860
Fax: + 44 884 774 7508

At your disposal, I remain.
Yours in service,

Once again on behalf of all our FIFA 2010 TEAM,

1. All claims are nullified after 10 working days from today.
2. Your Ref number must be in all your mails with the claims officer.
3. Do inform the claims officer of any change of names or addresses.
4. All winners under the 5. Please contact your claims agent by fax or email (Mrs. Deborah Gray).FIFA 2010 ENGLAND.


The certificate attached looks like ...


Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This email is supposedly an official prize notification from world football governing body, FIFA. The email claims that the "lucky" recipient has won a substantial cash prize in the FIFA World Cup Lottery. The recipient is instructed to contact the "claims agent" listed in the message and provide personal details in order to arrange the "immediate release" of the winnings.

However, the message is not from FIFA and neither the prize nor the FIFA 2010 World Cup Lottery itself actually exist. In fact, the message represents just one more variant of an advance fee lottery scam that has been successfully used by criminals for many years. Those who contact the "claims agent" as instructed will soon be asked to pay various fees that are supposedly required to allow the release of the "winnings". The criminals responsible for the scam will claim that these payments are necessary to cover taxes, insurance costs, delivery expenses and a host of other totally fictitious fees. The scammers will insist that for legal or insurance reasons, the fees cannot be deducted from the actual winnings and must be paid in advance. If the fees are not paid, they will claim, the "winner" will forfeit his or her right to the prize money. But, of course, there is no prize and any money sent by the victims will be pocketed by these canny scammers. Once a victim falls for the scam and sends money, requests for more and more bogus fees are likely to continue until the victim belatedly realizes that he or she is being conned. During the course of the scam, the criminals may also fool their victim into supplying a large amount of personal information that may subsequently be used to steal his or her identity.

In order to make their scam message seem a little more credible, the scammers responsible for this message have rendered it in the form of an official-looking PDF document complete with seemingly genuine FIFA logos, trademarks and formatting. The logos and graphics used in the scam message are no doubt stolen or copied from official FIFA websites and publications.

Scammers are always quick to exploit events of international significance in order to further their own nefarious ends. And the 2010 FIFA World Cup - to be held in South Africa in June and July - is certainly no exception. The above example is only one of a number of advance fee style scams that have been submitted to me over the last few months that base their bogus cover stories around the impending World Cup. Such scam attempts are likely to continue.

Internet users should be very cautious of any unsolicited emails that claim that they have won a large prize in a promotion that they have never even entered. No legitimate organization is ever likely to run a promotion or prize draw in such a manner. Scammers often claim that the recipient's email address or name has been collected online and randomly selected as the "winner". Genuine lotteries do not operate in such a manner. If you receive such an email, do not reply to the "agent" as instructed. Do not send money or personal information.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Online Auctions: Present Trend for Sale And Purchase - - Are We Compromising Safety Over Facility??

Online auctions are very trendy now days. You can sell and buy just about anything over the Internet. There are different items that have been auction. Shoes, cars, furniture, computer, electronic gadgets and most especially jewelry.

Two of the most used auction sites is eBay and another is Ubii. Sometimes they don’t have hold over their user despite of their encrypted database secured.

Online auctions help many people to purchase items they want at a fraction of the retail cost. They also may able to help a businessperson to establish himself or herself as being reputable.

We don’t have the capacity to predict who’s lying or scamming; the only thing we can do is trust that the seller is honest. If you won the bid of that item and you have doubts if it’s authenticated, take time to read the customer’s feedback, this information will tell you if the seller is honest or if he or she has had complaints against them.

Check the shipment fee sometimes the seller will jack up the price. Ask questions or clarification to the seller including the return policy. If you are not satisfied with the information you get and you still like that you may be able to find it somewhere else on the site.

Many victims have been deceived, however the security and policies on auction sites have become very strict to reduce the chance of fraud. Selling fake products or defective items and after receiving the money, they disappear. Buyers should be vigilant and careful when sending payments.

There are popular services that transfer funds to the seller, these are PayPal and Pay Direct and sometimes they have protection against from fraud. Never send money through wire transfer, it’s hard for you to find the person you are sending it to.

Anti-marketing Campaign Against McDonald's - - Email Claiming '3-year-old Kevin Archer Died Due to Needle Pricking at Ball Pit'

Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Summary:

Email forward claims that 3-year-old Kevin Archer died after being pricked by a heroin filled hypodermic needle left in a McDonald's ball pit.

Few months back, actually in October 2009, an an article was posted here at Beware! Its a Cyber World; titled as:

Anti-Marketing Campaign Against McDonald's - - McDonald's Australia "Leave Out Items" Memo Hoax

The recent mail is the same kind of anti-marketing campaign against McDonald's. In fact, this message is a hoax that has been circulating for more than a decade. There are no credible reports whatsoever that confirm that a child named Kevin Archer died after being pricked by a heroin filled hypodermic needle in a McDonald's ball pit. The Midland Chronicle did not publish a report about Kevin Archer as stated in the hoax message. The event described in this message never occurred.

Before going in deep and thorough analysis of this hoax; let's have a look towards the mail contents:


Subject: McDonald's Ball pit - kevin archer


McDonalds, Chuck E Cheese, Discovery Zone... All places with ball pits in the children's play area. One of my sons lost his watch, and was very upset. We dug and dug in those balls, trying to find his watch. Instead, we found vomit, food, feces, and other stuff I do not want to discuss. I went to the manager and raised hell. Come to find out, the ball pit is only cleaned out once a month. I have doubts that it is even done that often. My kids will never play in another ball pit. Some of you might not be parents, but you may have nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or friends with children. This will pertain to you too. As I read the following, my heart sank. I urge each and every one of you to pass this on to as many people as you can. I cannot stress how important this is!

Hi. My name is Lauren Archer, my son Kevin and I lived in Midland,TN.

On October 2nd, 1999 I took my only son to McDonald's for his 3rd birthday. After he finished lunch, I allowed him to play in the ball pit. When he started whining later on, I asked him what was wrong, he pointed to the back of his pull-up and simply said "Mommy, it hurts." I couldn't find anything wrong with him at that time. I bathed him when we got home, and it was at that point when I found a welt on his left buttock. Upon investigating, it seemed as if there was something like a splinter under the welt. I made an appointment to see the doctor the next day, but soon he started vomiting and shaking, then his eyes rolled back into his head. From there, we went to the emergency room. He died later that night. It turned out that the welt on his buttock was the tip of a hypodermic needle that had broken off inside. The autopsy revealed that Kevin had died from a heroine overdose. The next week, the police removed the balls from the ball pit. There was rotten food, several hypodermic needles: some full, some used; knives, half-eaten candy, diapers, feces, and the stench of urine.

(You can find the article on Kevin Archer in the October 10,1999 issue of the Midland Chronicle.)

Repost this if it scares the crap out of you!! Repost this if you care about kids!! Please forward this to all loving mothers, fathers and anyone who loves and cares for children!! What has this world come to?? If a child is not safe in a child's play area then where??


Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This email forward claims that a child died of a heroin overdoes after being pricked by a heroin filled hypodermic needle in a McDonald's ball pit. The "warning" email began circulating late last century and has subsequently spawned a number of versions.

Thankfully, the email is a hoax. No little boy named Kevin Archer died as a result of being pricked by a heroin filled hypodermic needle in a McDonald's ball pit.

When the story first began circulating, McDonald's responded with a statement debunking the rumour. At the time, McDonald's issued the following statement publicly discussing the rumour:
We have thoroughly investigated this rumor and it is absolutely not true. There have been no such incidents ever reported at any McDonald's. In addition, there has never been an article in any newspaper regarding this rumor
Another indicator that this is a hoax is that the details keep changing. An early version claimed that little Kevin Archer died in October 1994. The version included above claims that he died in October 1999. Some versions mention Sugarland, Texas as the location of the little boy's death. Others are set in different towns or do not specify any location at all. One of the most enduring versions (see above example) states that the story about the death of Kevin Archer was featured in the Houston Chronicle in October 1999. Another version puts the supposed date of the report back to October 1994. However, David Galloway, a former writer for the Houston Chronicle, has denied that the newspaper has ever reported on such a case. In a January 2000 article discussing the hoax, he explains:
A friend named Dianna sent me the following on Saturday:

I am trying to verify the authenticity of a letter I received via e-mail this morning. I am very careful not to pass on things that are not truth and which I personally have not checked out through other sources. Hoax sites on the Internet could not help me with this one, and since it was stated that I could check this out in the Oct. 10, 1994, article in the Houston Chronicle on Kevin Archer, I thought maybe you could help me. I have sent an e-mail communique to the main e-mail for the Chronicle but then saw your name on that site as well. This article supposedly states that Kevin died as a result of a needle injection of heroin while playing in a ball pit at a McDonald's and the investigation proved that there were needles, some empty and some full, feces, food, knives and a stench of urine. I question this article, since it is asking people to pass the warning to other parents and the article supposedly is so old. Could you help me validate or deny the authenticity of these accusations before I address the person who sent it to me.

Yes, I can help with this one.

A search of the Chronicle archives shows no article mentioning Kevin Archer on Oct. 10, 1994, or any other date. And there's only one article in the Chronicle archives that mentions "McDonald," "heroin" and "needle" in the same article, and that was about AIDS and drug users, and it quoted a doctor whose last name was McDonald.

Also, since I was in the news business in Southeast Texas in October 1994, I feel certain that I would have heard about that story if it were true.

That's one of the favorite techniques of hoax writers. They attach the name of a real publication and a specific date (far enough in the past to make verification difficult), and it makes their garbage seem much more authentic.

But some smart people like Dianna know that just because a warning on the Internet cites a reputable source, that doesn't mean the reputable source ever reported what's being claimed.

No, the Chronicle never reported on needles in the McDonald's playground. It didn't happen.

Another, quite similar story that has also circulated for a number of years claims that another child died after being bitten numerous times by venomous snakes in a Burger King ball pit. The snake story is also untrue. In fact the snake death version is often added onto the Kevin Archer hoax discussed here.

Various undesirable items may well find their way into playground ball pits. In fact, it is even plausible that a hypodermic needle could end up in a ball pit. Certainly, cases have been reported in which drug users have discarded needles and other drug utensils in parks, playgrounds and sandpits.

However, this vague plausibility in no way warrants the dissemination of this exaggerated and misleading tale. The fact of the matter is that the email contains false information and it should not be forwarded.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Wave of Cyber Fraud and Internet Scams - - Cyber Criminals Tricking People by Imitating Legitimate Web Domains And Properties

There is a new internet scam going around and it's costing families across the country thousands of dollars.

Experts are saying old email scams are evolving into something much more sophisticated. This new "cyber fraud" is tricking people by imitating legitimate web domains and properties.

"It was just email after email and all seemed perfectly legitimate," said Sally Swaney, a victim of the latest cyber scam. "It was a scam. That we lost $4,600."

Swaney's son Brandon needed a car. So he went to to find a deal. What he got were a week of emails, promises and stories that would all point to a scam.

"Yeah, I was angry," Swaney said. "Because you think its legitimate and you get down to it... and it is not."

Swaney found a 2006 Subaru Impreza for less than $500. On the appraisal website Kelly Bluebook, the same make and model is listed for at least $10,000.

Yarsky said she was getting a divorce and moving out of the country to Scotland. The seller claimed since she was leaving there could be no phone calls and that there would be no in-person viewing of the car or test drive.

"The perpetrator always gives a sob story," said the National White Collar Crime Center's Jason Boone. "What they do is normally sell cars for well below market."

Boone says this is just a more sophisticated version of the Nigerian 419 email scam or a version of internet "Advance-fee Fraud."

I the Swaney's case, the seller pretended to "check-out" their victims by using a phoney escrow company called "MSN Autos" a rip of the legitimate website with the same name.

"They've been doing this for about 7 months now as MSN Autos. The goal is to mimic legitimate retailers," Boone said. "Any legitimate type of business to disarm the potential victim."

Swaney wired the money, a quarter of the inheritance money her aunt left for the family, through Western Union. Since then, she's heard nothing from Yarsky or "MSN Autos."

No car, no money, no explanation. After paying transfer and shipping fees, the amount came to $4,850. Swaney isn't hopeful she'll ever see that money again.

She called 13 On Your Side to get the word out.

The National White Collar Crimes Division said some people have lost up to $40,000 buying cars and boats over the internet through this specific scam.

Before you make a big purchase online, make sure to check the price... is it too good to be true? If it feels wrong, check with an appraisal website.

Use a Google search to find complaints on any third party companies involved in the transaction and check the URL from that company.

If you feel like you've fallen victim to an internet scam be sure to save all the materials from your transaction and quickly contact your local authorities.

Afterwards, be sure to report the cyber crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

"I just don't want anybody else to have it happen to them," Swaney said. "That's why we contacted you guys."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MAY 2010 McDONALD's £1,000,000 GBP WINNER - - Recent Winning Notification From Mrs. Lisa Wise (Online Coordinator Mc Donald's Inc.)

Brief Introduction:

Few days back I posted a mail here on 'Beware! Its a Cyber World' that I received purportedly from McDonald's. I posted that winning notification to share it with my readers; in which cyber criminals attacked internet users without a proper plan and pre-requsites to fool the innocent cyber users perfectly. Therefore, now they invaded again with a more detailed "Winning Notification" and a certificate attached that is from 'World Bank' certifying about correctness of the "2010 McDonald's Awards".

See the picture below that is attached with the mail I received:

Now let's have a look towards the mail content:


Sent: Thu, May 13, 2010 5:12:51 AM
Subject: MAY 2010 MCDONALD £1,000,000 GBP WINNER

McDonald's Incorporation
PO Box 1010,Liverpool
L70 1NL,United Kingdom.
Batch: 24/00319/IPD

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are pleased to inform you that you have won a Ј1,000,000.00 British Pounds prize money from the Annual 2010 McDonald's Lottery promotion which was organized by the McDonald's Incorporation, United States in conjunction with the World Wide Web email system company's i.e Microsoft,yahoo,gmail & custom mails. A random selection was made from these company's consisting of 12(TWELVE) Winners from 6 (SIX) different Continent, These company had combined and provided a software for McDonald in which 12 ACTIVE email address was chosen. This software randomly picked all the 12 email address of different individual that are active online among millions that subscribed to Hotmail, Yahoo, G-mail and other various Windows Users, McDonald's has chosen 12 Winners through electronic balloting system without the winner applying for this award.

These are your Identification Number:-
(*) Reference Number: XYL/26510460037/05
(*) Batch Number: 24/00319/IPD
(*) Winning Number: YM/09788
(*) Lottery Held: Liverpool, United Kingdom
(*) Month Held: May 11th, 2010

To File for your claim, please contact our payment/release order officer below :-
Please contact:-
Name: Mr Syed Mido Ghalib
Foreign Payment and Release order Department,
Tel: +44-8712375734 - +44-8712375735
Submitted Form will be manually verified and processed by the assigned Claims Manager. The Processing of your form will be completed within the next 24 hours of receiving your LOTTERY CLAIMS APPLICATION FORM-C. You will receive an update on the status of your application once completely processed.
Please be informed that the following listed Country have been banned from participating in the lottery. South Africa, Nigeria, and if you are a resident of the listed country you cannot file claims for this lottery prize. Please delete this Notification, as your prize processing will be annulled without notice.
Once again, accept our congratulations on your prize winning. Be further advised to maintain the strictest level of confidentiality until the end of proceedings to circumvent problems associated with fraudulent claims. This is part of our precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program.

Congratulations from me and members of staff of the THE McDonald's Lottery.

Yours faithfully,
Mrs. Lisa Wise
Online coordinator
(Sweepstakes International Program)
The McDonald's Incorporation
PO Box 1010,Liverpool
L70 1NL,United Kingdom.
2010 McDONALD'S ONLINE PROMOTIONS. All rights reserved. Offer valid to winners who are at least 18 years of age. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary to claim winning prize. See web site for details. You will need to meet all of the steps to redeem as outlined in the Terms & Conditions before you can receive your promotional prizes. To receive this promotion, you must: 1) submit email and mailing address information 2) select one of the option listed for receiving prize 3) check your email inbox for "Redemption Notification" 4) follow Redemption instructions. You can unsubscribe from our promotional updates. © McD Inc ®


As I advised earlier in my last post on the same subject; I want to reiterate that Beware! It's a cyber world and don't believe the things over here which are too good to be true; as free cheese is available in rat's trap only.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Risky Information Being Posted by 52% of Social Network Users - - Seven Things You Need To Stop Doing On Facebook

More than half of all social network users post information that puts them at risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime, according to a new study from Consumer Reports.

The publication’s “Annual State of the Net” report, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, also found that Americans have lost some $4.5 billion to cybercrime during the past two years, including replacing 2.1 million computers that have been compromised by malware.

The report based its findings on a survey of 2,000 online households conducted in January. Nine percent of social network users experienced some form of abuse within the past year, including malware infections, scams, identity theft or harassment.

Fifty-two percent of adult social network users have posted personal information that increases their risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime, the survey found. The numbers include those who have posted their full birth date (38 percent), photos of children (21 percent), children’s names (13 percent), home street address (8 percent) and even details of when they are not at home (3 percent).

The report, published in the June issue of Consumer Reports, cites seven things that users of Facebook and other social networks must stop doing immediately. They include:

1. Using a Weak Password:

The report suggests avoiding names or words that can be found in the dictionary. Use a random mix of at least eight upper and lower case letters and numbers;

2. Listing a Full Date of Birth:

Never list a full birth date (month, day and year). Only list a month and day – or none at all;

3. Overlooking Privacy Controls:

Facebook users can limit access for almost everything they post, but not everyone makes full use of these controls;

4. Posting a Child’s Name in a Caption:

Don’t use children’s names in photo tags or captions. If someone else does, delete it by clicking “Remove Tag.”

5. Mentioning being away from home: Doing so is like putting a “no one’s home” sign on your door, the report said. Be vague about vacation dates.

6. Being Found by a Search Engine:

To help prevent strangers from accessing a profile, go to the Search section of Facebook’s privacy controls and select “Only Friends for Facebook” search results. Be sure the “Public Search” isn’t checked.

7. Permitting Youngsters to Use Facebook Unsupervised:

Facebook limits membership to people ages 13 and older. If a young person is allowed to use Facebook, an adult in the same household should become an online friend and use their e-mail as the contact for the account in order to receive notification and to monitor activity.

Email Hoax Containing Russian K-7 Heavy Bomber Images - - Reality and Analysis

Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Summary:

Recently circulating message claims that attached images depict a K-7, an exceptionally large aircraft built in Russia during the 1930's.

In fact, the K-7 was a real aircraft that was indeed designed and built during the 1930's in Russia. However, the images that come with the message are only an artist's rendition of the aircraft. They make the aircraft appear much larger than it really was. The images are not accurate depictions of the real aircraft.

First have a look to the following mail and images circulating via emails; then we'll proceed towards the detailed analysis:


Subject: K7 heavy bomber The most amazing airplane in History.....

Built in Russia during the 1930s, it flew 11 times before crashing and killing 15 people.

The designer, Konstantin Kalinin, wanted to build two more planes but the project was scrapped. Later, Stalin had Kalinin executed. Evidently, it was not good to fail on an expensive project under Stalin.

It's got propellers on the back of the wings, too. You can count 12 engines facing front. The size would be equivalent to the Empire State Building on its side, with cannons. And you think the 747 was big... not only a bunch of engines but check out the cannons the thing was carrying.

In the 1930s the Russian army was obsessed by the idea of creating huge planes. At that time they proposed to having as many propellers as possible to help carrying those huge flying fortresses into the air, jet propulsion has not been invented yet.

Not many photos were saved from those times because of the high secrecy levels of such projects and because a lot of time has already passed. Still, on the attached photos you can see one such plane - a heavy bomber K-7.

Can you imagine what it would be like sitting in this thing when those cannons go

Beware! Its a Cyber World - - Explanation:

The rather compelling images that come with this widely circulated message are said to depict the "K7", an exceptionally large aircraft built in the Soviet Union during the 1930's. The description that accompanies the images notes that the aircraft was designed by Russian aviator Konstantin Kalinin. According to the message, the aircraft crashed on its eleventh test flight killing 15 people. While these claims are true, other information in the message is less factual. Moreover, the images that come with the message are not photographs but rather an artist's renditions of how one of these aircraft might have looked. And the person who created these renditions used a considerable amount of "artistic licence" in his or her work.

A photograph of the real K7. This plane is obviously much smaller than the one depicted in the above images

While the K7 was certainly large, these images depict an aircraft much larger than the one that was actually built. The images also show a plane with more engines - 12 rather than the actual 7 - and considerably more firepower than the original aircraft. A Wikipedia entry about the K7 lists the following specifications as does modeller's website, Fiddlers Green :
General characteristics
Crew: minimum 11
Capacity: 120 passengers in civilian configuration
Length: 28 m (91 ft 10 in)
Wingspan: 53 m (173 ft 11 in)
Wing area: 454 m² (4,886.8 ft²)
Empty weight: 24,400 kg (53,793 lb)
Loaded weight: 38,000 kg (83,776 lb)
Powerplant: 7× Mikulin AM-34F V-12 piston engines, 560 kW (750 hp) each
Another article by Alexandre V Savine of the Semenov Institute of Chemical Physics also gives details about the aircraft. Both military and civilian versions of the aircraft were designed. More prototypes of the aircraft were ordered after the crash, but the project was shelved in 1935 before the planes could be completed.

Reports suggest that the plane's designer Konstantin Kalinin was indeed executed as an "enemy of the state" in 1938 during one of Stalin's purges. However, it is unclear if Kalinin's fate was a direct result of his involvement with the K7 project as suggested in the message.

The images that come with this message are only 3 in a longer series of artist's renditions depicting the plane. As shown below, others in the series are even more fanciful and depict the K7 in a close encounter with an even more outlandish aircraft:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Strategy in Cyber War - - Dallas Summit Aims to Target Cybercrime

When a group of former and retired federal officials gathered in Washington, D.C., in February to test their skill in containing a simulated cyberattack on the nation, the "damage" was catastrophic.

Vast networks that transmit millions of cellphone calls each day were the first to go down.

Landlines and the Internet quickly followed.

Finally, the entire East Coast electrical power grid crashed under the stress of mock bombs exploding in gas pipelines and power stations, and the simultaneous arrival of a Gulf Coast hurricane.

The officials – including former national intelligence czar John Negroponte and former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff – were unable to coordinate a countermeasure to the virtual attack.

"Air traffic was thrown into disorder, and commerce came to a standstill," according to cybersecurity news site Help Net Security, which chronicled the exercise.

That cyber-wargame was widely seen as a sign that neither government nor business is fully ready to deal with a worst-case online attack.

This week, cybercrime fighters bring that message to Dallas.

Monday through Wednesday, the city will host the Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit, what organizers at the EastWest Institute are billing as one of the largest conferences ever on online crime and terrorism.

More than 400 corporate executives, diplomats, retired military leaders and White House officials will converge on the Hyatt Regency Hotel to address what the FBI recently called its "highest criminal priority."

"In effect, all the key players from our government will be here, as well as delegates from around the world," said Ross Perot Jr., who led the effort to bring the conference to Dallas.

Cybercrime surge

While the event is geared toward government and corporate leaders, cybercrime is a surging problem for everyone.

According to the FBI, cybercrime officially cost Americans almost $560 million last year, more than double the 2008 tally, although experts say the true number is undoubtedly much higher, since many cyberattacks go unreported.

Supervisory Special Agent Charles Pavelites at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, a joint program of the FBI and National White Collar Crime Center, said that as little as 10 percent to 20 percent of online scams and crimes are reported.

He said people are often embarrassed at getting scammed or realize the crooks are so hard to track that prosecutors probably won't bother with an investigation into a few hundred dollars.

But some of the biggest companies in the world are talking openly about the threat.

Google Inc. recently disclosed that its online e-mail service was compromised, apparently by the Chinese government in attempt to spy on human rights activists, while Intel Corp. acknowledged in a government filing that it was the victim of a "sophisticated incident" in January.

Smaller businesses are also under fire.

Plano-based Hillary Machinery Inc. lost more than $200,000 last year to hackers who stole the company's online banking login information.

The Dallas conference will be a who's who of corporate bigwigs and government staffers.

Randall Stephenson, chief executive of Dallas-based AT&T Inc., will speak, as will Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell.

Dell is the top sponsor of the event, as the company's purchase of Plano-based computer services firm Perot Systems Corp. has made Internet security a bigger focus for Dell.

Perot, incoming president of the EastWest Institute and a director at Dell, will be involved in the event. So will the chief information officer of Fort Worth-based American Airlines.

Peter Altabef, head of Dell Services and former CEO of Perot Systems, said corporate clients expect security to be a basic element of almost any computer service or system they buy.

"You've got the vast majority of organizations saying they're concerned," Altabef said. "And I think that's a justified concern."

One goal of the Cybersecurity Summit is to develop international relationships that make it easier to pursue and prosecute cybercriminals across borders, Altabef said.

Howard Schmidt, recently appointed White House cybersecurity coordinator, is expected to address the government's role in reducing theft.

Criminal element

There's growing concern about virus writers and thieves coalescing into criminal gangs.

"[T]hreats continue to evolve from mischievous hackers who pursue notoriety to organized criminals who steal data for monetary gain," Microsoft noted in a report on software security published last week.

Cybersecurity researcher Brian Krebs noted recently that old-school robbers with masks and guns stole $9.5 million from U.S. banks in the third quarter of 2009.

In that same time, cyber-thieves stole more than $25 million from bank accounts of small and mid-size businesses by hacking directly into the accounts or stealing passwords.

Earlier this year, a computer hacker from Miami was sentenced to 20 years in prison for stealing tens of millions of credit card numbers from businesses, including Dallas-based Dave & Buster's and 7-Eleven Inc.

The thief, 28-year-old Albert Gonzalez, also attacked Plano-based J.C. Penney Co. Inc., but apparently failed to steal any of the retailer's card numbers.

Gonzalez is believed to have conspired in the attacks with Russian accomplices.

Password theft seems to have been what hit Hillary Machinery, which saw a bit more than $800,000 drained from its account with PlainsCapital Bank in withdrawals over just a couple of days in November.

Hillary and PlainsCapital were able to recover about $600,000, but the two companies are suing over which of them is responsible for the remaining funds.

Hillary is lobbying for federal legislation that would require banks to provide the same refund guarantees in case of fraud on commercial accounts that are available to individual accounts.

"It's a national security issue in my opinion, and it's a jobs issue," said Troy Owen, Hillary's vice president of sales and marketing. "We had to put off hiring people at a time when we were trying to recover from a recession."

Owen said Hillary used all the basic security measures, including running anti-virus programs on its computers.

But anti-virus programs themselves are often a source of cybercrime.

In a report issued last week, Google said 15 percent of all malicious software programs posted on websites are fake anti-virus programs. The programs pop up and instruct viewers to click on a button to remove security threats.

But clicking on the button causes malware to be installed on the user's computer, removing the need for virus writers to actually hack into the system.

Even when legit anti-virus software is used, it's no panacea.

"Malware authors attempt to evade detection by continually releasing new variants in an effort to outpace the release of new signatures by anti-virus vendors," Microsoft noted in its report.

And the rush to get updated software out recently caused one vendor to fall on its face.

On April 21, McAfee Inc. pushed out a software update for its anti-virus software in response to "a new global threat to Windows PCs that attacks critical operating system components," as the company said on its blog.

But the update itself was not properly tested and caused thousands of computers to crash at companies worldwide.

The backlash against McAfee was severe, and the company has said it will reimburse "reasonable expenses" to home and home office users who were also affected.

Advanced attacks

Ed Amoroso, chief security officer at AT&T, said while simple viruses and worms dominated the headlines a few years ago, today's threats are much more advanced.

He said one of the biggest dangers comes from what are known as "botnets," networks of thousands or millions of hacked computers that are harnessed by hackers to send out spam e-mails, attack corporate and government networks and perform other malicious activities.

"The threat has definitely gotten bigger," Amoroso said.

Last week, Mesquite resident David Anthony Edwards pleaded guilty in federal court in Dallas to charges that he and another man built a botnet of 22,000 computers. After demonstrating how the botnet could be used to attack computers on other networks, a buyer agreed to buy source code and the botnet itself for about $3,000.

Amoroso said one of the reasons botnets are growing is that the software to create them is widely available and easily activated by programmers and Web surfers with only moderate hacking skills.

Chasing down cybercriminals is much tougher, though, with few official channels for tracking and prosecuting crooks who often operate out of multiple countries. Pavelites said there is some cooperation already between governments.

"We have had successes working directly with the Romanian police, with the Russian police, the fraud people in Nigeria, the organized crime people in the U.K.," he said. "We have had prosecutions, not just investigations."

Delegates from the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, Brazil and other nations will hash out concrete proposals at this week's summit to expand that cooperation, which will then be presented to official organizations like the United Nations

One of the institute's recent achievements was developing plans to lay undersea fiber optic cables in ways that make them less susceptible to damage and easier to repair. That ability to turn words into results is what spurred Perot to bring this conference to Dallas.

"I wouldn't be this involved if it wasn't focused on action," Perot said. "I'm not too big on just talking."

And Perot said the talking that does happen will be much more direct than typical diplomatic summits.

He described a recent EastWest delegation he led to China to meet with high-ranking government officials.

"We brought up Google," Perot said. "I said, 'Look, every time you do something with Google, you look weak. The Communist Party looks weak. Because none of us can figure out why you want to censor this stuff.' And they'd never thought of themselves as looking weak."

"I can't stress [enough] how frank conversations are when it's not official diplomacy," he said. "And we can get a lot more done unofficially."

Source: Dallas News

Paypal Phishing Scam Reborn in a New Shape - - Recipient's Paypal Account Error: Reality and Analysis of The Mail

Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Summary:

Email, declaring to be a "new message" from Paypal claims that an error has been detected in the recipient's Paypal account and he or she must submit an attached form verifying his or her details or risk having the account suspended.

Wake up guys! The email is not from Paypal. The claim that there is a problem with the recipient's account is a lie designed to trick him or her into submitting Paypal account details to Internet criminals. Any information entered on the bogus form can be collected by criminals and used to hijack the user's Paypal and credit card accounts.

In November, 2009 same type of phishing scam was reported here on "Beware! Its a Cyber World" titled as:

Paypal Primary Email Address Change Phishing Scam

Cyber criminals emerged with the next episode in the form of current phishing scam. Before going towards the detailed analysis; let's have a look to the mail contents:


Subject: You have a new message from PayPal !

Dear PayPal Customer,

During our regularly scheduled account maintenance and verification procedure we have detected a slight error in your PayPal online account.

This might be due to the following reasons:

1. A recent change in your personal information (ie. change of address, email address)

2. An inability to accurately verify your selected option of payment due to an internal error within our systems.

Please fill in all the details that are required to complete this verification process.

To do this we have attached a form to this email. Please download the form and follow the instructions on your screen. NOTE: The form needs to be opened in a modern browser which has javascript enabled (ex: Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3, Safari 3, Opera 9)

Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account. We apologize for any inconvenience.

If you choose to ignore our request, you leave us no choice but to temporary suspend your account.

Sincerely, PayPal Account Review Department.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and choose the "Help" link in the footer of any page.


Beware! It's a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This email, which claims to be from popular online payment service PayPal, informs the recipient that an error has been found in his or her PayPal account and the account must therefore be verified to avoid suspension. The message instructs the recipient to fill in and submit a form attached to the email. The form asks for the user's PayPal email address and password along with credit card details and personal identity information.

However, the message is a phishing scam and certainly is not from PayPal. The claim that there is a problem with the recipient 's PayPal account is a lie designed to fool him or her into complying with the fraudulent instructions and submitting personal and financial information. All of the information submitted on the bogus form can be collected by the criminals operating the scam and subsequently used for fraud and identity theft.

Because of its high profile and because it conducts the majority of its business and transactions online, PayPal has become a favourite target of phishing scammers. Criminals constantly use and reuse a great many variations of the above scam in order to trick victims into relinquishing their sensitive personal information. While this version includes the bogus form as an attached file, others may entice the recipient into clicking a link and visiting a fraudulent website designed to resemble the genuine PayPal site. The scammers often use tricks such as address spoofing and disguised links to make their messages seem more legitimate. They may also use PayPal logos and other graphics stolen from the genuine PayPal website to further the illusion that their messages are genuine.

PayPal will never send you an unsolicited email asking you to submit account login details, bank or credit card details or other personal information such as your full name and driver's license numbers. Thus, if you receive an email that asks you to submit such details, then you should treat it with the utmost caution. If you receive such an email, do not open any attachments that may come with the email. Do not click any links in the email. PayPal has published information warning its customers about such phishing scams.

In the past it has been more common for phishing scammers to use direct links to bogus "look-a-like" websites that try to trick victims into submitting information. However, in an increasingly common ploy, the scammers now often include the fraudulent web form as an HTML email attachment. Clicking the attachment opens the bogus form in the user's web browser. The form is coded to ensure that all information entered into the form will be automatically sent to the scammers when the "Submit" button is pressed. Scammers are apparently making more use of email attachments in an attempt to get around the increasingly sophisticated anti-phishing filters now being used by modern web browsers and computer security software.
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