Monday, October 26, 2009

Nine Zero Hash (90#) Phone Scam Hoax

Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Brief Summary:

Many Emails claims that a scammer can take control of you phone if you key in 90#.

Actually the status of this mail is false for the great majority of domestic fixed phone systems and mobile phones. Can be true for certain types of business phone systems that are configured in a particular way.

Australian Version:

FYI - Phone Scamm

This has been confirmed by Telstra: DO NOT push 90# on your home phone. Got a call last night from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service technician who was conducting a test on our telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine (9), zero(0), hash (#) and then hang up. Luckily, I was suspicious and refused. Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which allows them to place long distance telephone calls billed to your home phone number. I was further informed that this scam has been originating from many of the local ails/prisons. DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE. PLEASE pass this on to your friends. If you have mailing lists and/or newsletters from organisations you are connected with, I encourage you to pass this on.

Stephen Cooper
Detective Sergeant
Major Fraud Investigation Division
Mobile phone version:

If you receive a phone call on your mobile from any person, saying that, he or she is a company engineer, or telling that they're checking your mobile line, and you have to press # 90 or #09 or any other number. End this call immediately without pressing any numbers. There is a fraud company using a device that once you press #90 or #09 they can access your "SIM" card and make calls at your expense.
One US Version:

I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying himself as an ATandT Service technician who was conducting a test on telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine(9), zero(0), the pound sign (#), and then hang up. Luckily, I was suspicious and refused.

Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which enables them to place long distance calls billed to your home phone number.

I was further informed that this scam has been originating from many local jails/prisons. I have also verified this information with UCB Telecom,Pacific Bell, MCI, Bell Atlantic and GTE. Please beware.

DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE.

The GTE Security Department requested that I share this information with EVERYONE I KNOW.

PLEASE pass this on to everyone YOU know.

If you have mailing lists and/or newsletters from organizations you are connected with, I encourage you to pass on this information to them.

After checking with Verizon they said it was true, so do not dial (9),zero(0), the pound sign # and hang up for anyone.


Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Explanation:

There have been a number of versions of this warning email. The original version began circulating in 1998 and variants of this original, set in several countries, have continued to circulate ever since. Although the original version of the message was based on fact, the information in more current versions is false for the vast majority of phone users. Only business users who have certain configurations of PBX or PBAX phone systems are potentially vulnerable to the scam described in the warning messages.

The messages warn recipients that they may receive a call from a fraudster posing as a phone technician who will advise them to key in "Nine-Zero-Hash" or a similar sequence of numbers. According to the email, once you key in the sequence provided, the fraudster has immediate access to your phone and can use it for making calls that will then be billed to your account.

In late 2003, an Australian version of the hoax claimed to be a "police warning" and used the name and contact number of Stephen Cooper, a real Victorian police officer. Although the officer did not send the email, he was inundated with calls and emails about the hoax. Australian telecommunications giant, Telstra, has repeatedly denounced the email as a hoax. A July 2003 article in The Age notes:

One of the oldest email hoaxes on the internet has returned to Melbourne - the "police warning" of fraudsters who trick people into handing over access to their telephone accounts.

Hundreds of the email "warnings" purporting to come from Victoria Police, have been turning up on computers all over the city in the past two or three weeks and annoying a detective at the St Kilda Road police complex.

The emails are signed with the name of Stephen Cooper, a detective senior constable at the St Kilda Road police complex, and give his phone number and email address there. Mr Cooper's telephone is now on voicemail, with a message advising people to delete the email and ignore the hoax.

The hoax email warns people that they may "get a call from someone posing as a telephone technician testing your line. He will ask you to press nine-zero-hash. If you do, you will give him access to your telephone line so he can place long distance calls that will be billed to your account".

A Telstra spokeswoman said the message was a hoax. The nine-zero-hash code could not give access to a telephone account. The hoax first turned up about four years ago, had not been seen for about 12 months, but had suddenly reappeared.

An earlier US version claimed the supposed scam calls were coming from prisons. Yet another version of the hoax targets mobile phone users.

While most of the information in modern variants of the warning message is untrue, it should be noted that some business telephone switching equipment that has been configured in a certain way may be vulnerable to a scam like the one described in the message. If a particular type of PBX or PABX phone system requires users to dial "9" to get an outside line then it is possible for a scammer to take control of the line and such scam attempts have indeed taken place in the United States. Information about the warning message published on computer programmer Jonathan de Boyne Pollard's website explains:

The original scam warned about in the original message only applies in the United States, and only to organisations with particular types of PABX that have been configured in a particular way. The essence of the original scam was the ability of these PABXes to connect two outside lines together, using call forwarding. This is why the Recall button is involved. The sequence R90# places the original call on hold (R), makes a new call to an outside line (9), dials the operator (0), and then connects the original call to the new call (#). The PABX thus needs to have been configured to allow an outside call to be forwarded to an outside line, which most PABXes do not allow, for obvious reasons.

A consumer advisory published on the FCC website also provides details about the scam, warning that office workers using PBX and PABX business phone systems should be aware of such tactics. It notes that "this scam only works if your telephone is served by a private branch exchange (PBX) or private automatic branch exchange (PABX)".

Clearly, the inaccurate and misleading warning messages that are currently circulating are mutated versions of the original, factual versions of the warning that were correctly aimed only at users of PBX and PBAX business phone systems. In reality, the information in the warning message is false for the vast majority of home phone users, and certainly for all mobile phone users and, therefore, the email can not be considered a valid warning and it should not be forwarded.

Australian Flag Lapel Pin Story - Response to Muslim Woman's Checkout Criticism

Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Brief Summary:

Protest email tells the story of how a Muslim woman in a supermarket checkout line was firmly put in her place after she made critical remarks about the cashier's Australian flag lapel pin and Australia's involvement in the Iraq war.

It's actually a recycled version of an unsubstantiated US story that has circulated for several years.


Subject: FW: The Australian Flag

If this is true, I would have loved to have been there!

I am led to believe,an incident occurred in a supermarket Recently, when the following was witnessed:

A Muslim woman dressed in a Burkha (A black gown & face mask) was Standing with her shopping in a queue at the checkout.

When it was her turn to be served, and as she reached the cashier, She made a loud remark about the Australian Flag lapel pin, which the Female cashier was wearing on her blouse.

The cashier reached up and touched the pin and said, 'Yes, I always Wear it proudly. My son serves abroad with the forces and I wear it for Him.

The Muslim woman then asked the cashier when she was going to stop Bombing and killing her countrymen explaining that she was Iraqi.

At that point, an elderly Gentleman standing in the queue stepped Forward, and interrupted with a calm and gentle voice, and said to the Iraqi woman:

'Excuse me, but hundreds of thousands of Australian men and women, Just like this ladies son have fought and sacrificed their lives so that People just like YOU can stand here, in Australia, which is MY country and Allow you to blatantly accuse an innocent check-out cashier of bombing YOUR Countrymen.

'It is my belief that if you were allowed to be as outspoken as That in Iraq, which you claim to be YOUR country, then we wouldn't need to be Fighting there today'. .'However - now that you have learned how to speak Out and criticise the Australian people who have afforded you the protection Of MY country, I will gladly pay the cost of a ticket to help you pay your Way back to Iraq '.

'When you get there, and if you manage to survive for being as Outspoken as what you are here in Australia, then you should be able to help Straighten out the mess which YOUR Iraqi countrymen have got you into in The first place, which appears to be the reason that you have come to MY Country to avoid.'

Apparently the queue cheered and applauded. ...IF YOU AGREE...

Pass this on to all of your proud Australian & other Worldly Friends..

I just did............!!!

It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice. It's also nice to be AUSTRALIAN.

Note: Email includes several Australian flag graphics and a koala image as decoration.

Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This email forward tells the supposedly true story of an Australian supermarket incident in which an Iraqi woman in a Burkha made critical and inflammatory comments to a cashier who was proudly wearing an Australian Flag lapel pin in honour of her son who was serving overseas. According to the story, an elderly Australian man waiting in the checkout line, took the Muslim woman to task for her comments, pointedly reminding her that it is due to the sacrifice of many Australian soldiers that she enjoyed the freedom to make such critical comments in public, and urging her to return to her own country if she was dissatisfied with the Australian way of life. The message calls on the recipient to send the story on to other proud Australians.

However, while some recipients may find the story entertaining, it is highly unlikely that such an incident actually took place as described, at least in Australia. In fact, the same story, with minor changes to reflect the targeted location, has circulated in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The following American based version is virtually identical the the Australian version above:
A Muslim woman dressed in a Burkha (A black gown & face mask) was standing with her shopping in a queue at the checkout.

When it was her turn to be served, and as she reached the cashier, she made a loud remark about the American Flag lapel pin, which the female cashier was wearing on her blouse.

The cashier reached up and touched the pin and said, “Yes, I always wear it proudly. My son serves abroad with the forces and I wear it for him”.

The Muslim woman then asked the cashier when she was going to stop bombing and killing her countrymen, explaining that she was Iraqi.

At that point, a Gentleman standing in the queue stepped forward, and interrupted with a calm and gentle voice, and said to the Iraqi woman:

“Excuse me, but hundreds of thousands of men and women, just like this ladies son have fought and sacrificed their lives so that people just like YOU can stand here, in America, which is MY country and allow you to blatantly accuse an innocent check-out cashier of bombing YOUR countrymen”.

“It is my belief that if you were allowed to be as outspoken as that in Iraq, which you claim to be YOUR country, then we wouldn’t need to be fighting there today”.

“However – now that you have learned how to speak out and criticise the American people who have afforded you the protection of MY country, I will gladly pay the cost of a ticket to help you pay your way back to Iraq”.

“When you get there, and if you manage to survive for being as outspoken as you are here in America, then you should be able to help straighten out the mess which YOUR Iraqi countrymen have got you into in the first place, which appears to be the reason that you have come to MY country to avoid.”

Apparently the queue cheered and applauded.

The above US version is in turn derived from an earlier US based version of the story that first appeared in early 2003. So is this original US version true? Given that no variant of the message has ever provided any verifiable details, and no credible witnesses to the alleged incident have ever come forward, it is difficult to say if such an incident actually occurred or if the story is simply a work of fiction.

However, even if the original US version was based on fact, it is clear that the above Australian version does not describe a real incident. Obviously, some prankster with an axe to grind has "Australinized" the story by substituting "Australia" for "America", added a few appropriate graphics such as images of the Australian flag and a cute koala and then launched the piece anew.

Cadbury Products - Halal Certification Authority Logo Protest Email

Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Brief Summary:

Protest message calls on Australian consumers to avoid buying products that include the Halal Certification Authority Logo because the fees food companies pay for the use of the logo go to a religion that is "actively trying to destroy the Australian way of life" and possibly even supporting terrorism.

Some Cadbury products, and products from many other companies do include the Halal Certification Authority Logo, but the suggestion that fees are used to support terrorism or the destruction of the Australian way of life is highly inflammatory and has no credible evidence to support it.

Subject: Cadbury HALAL Please read! & Forward

Please forward to as many people as you can

I checked out Cadbury today at Woolworths!!! No more Cadbury's for me!!! I will check everything from now on... It is also on my Bega Cheese. The symbol is so small you can hardly ready what it says.

This is absolute fact. Before Lorraine went shopping Monday I showed her this email. She looked at the products in the shop mentioned and they had the symbol hidden on the back of the packaging and in a very weak colour that was hard to see. Leggo's Pasta Sauce has the logo on their bottles. ..

Have you ever seen this symbol on your food products?


This is a Muslim Association that collects money from the Australian Food Industry for this symbol so that Muslims will purchase the product. Yet we are told the Muslim population are only one and a half percent of Australia's total! On a recent radio talk-back show a well known host was alerted to this practice.

He hit a stone wall when trying to find out HOW MUCH money was paid to this organization and WHERE the money went.

It was explained that by buying those marked products at least you are supporting a religion that is actively trying to destroy the Australian way of life or at the other extreme the money MAY be supporting terrorism. Many Australian Companies are paying this money including BEGA, CADBURY and many other well known companies. Check before you buy. DO YOU KNOW WHERE THAT MONEY IS GOING?

Until you know, support those companies that support the Australian way of life.


Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This protest message, which circulates via email and online communities, points out to recipients that Cadbury and other companies include the Halal Certification logo on the packaging of some of their products. The message explains that companies need to pay a fee to a Halal Certification entity in order to display the logo and questions how much these fees are and what they are used for. It suggests that, since the fees are going to a Muslim organization, they are supporting a religion that is "actively trying to destroy the Australian way of life" and possibly even aiding terrorism. The talk-back radio host mentioned in the message probably refers to Brisbane radio station 4BC's Michael Smith who featured a radio segment on the subject along with a corresponding website article.

It is certainly true that many companies, including Cadbury, do feature the Halal Certification logo on some of their products and it is also true that these companies pay a fee for Halal Certification and use of the logo. Although the message implies that the practice is new, such organized Halal Certification programs have been around since at least 1993.

"Halal" is an Arabic word that means "permitted or lawful". Halal foods are foods that are permitted under Islamic dietary guidelines that were taken from the Islamic Holy Book, the Koran. Thus, practising Muslims must avoid foods that are not Halal and the Halal certification system is designed to help them make appropriate food choices. Companies that wish to promote a food product as Halal must go through a stringent certification process with a recognised Halal certification body.

According to information about Halal certification published on the Food Safety Australia website, there are at least 15 organizations in Australia that are able to certify a company as being Halal. These organizations include Halal Certification Authority Australia, the entity mentioned in the message, along with others including the Australian Halal Food Services Trust, the Islamic Co-ordinating Council of Victoria and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. The article notes that the certification process involves five steps, namely, application, submission, processing, certification and post-certification. Once the applying entity reaches the certification stage it is then permitted to display the approved logo on its accredited products or services, usually for a set time-period of one or two years. Before the specified expiry date, the company must submit a renewal application detailing any changes to its processes and ingredients if it wishes to continue displaying the logo.

With a growing Muslim population both in Australia and overseas it makes good business sense for Australian food companies and services to undergo the process of Halal Certification where possible, and this is obviously a primary motive for companies to undertake the process and pay for certification.

However, the suggestion in the email that all Muslim Australians are intent on destroying the Australian way of life is inflammatory and unfair. Far from "actively trying to destroy the Australian way of life", Australia's Muslim community forms a vibrant and productive part of Australia's culture. Australia is a multicultural society, and the Muslim community does much to enrich and enhance Australia's inherent cultural diversity. In any case, it could be argued that the "Australian way of life" is more of an abstract concept than a concrete entity - a fluid ideal largely based on an individual's own belief system, expectations and ethnic and cultural background. From its earliest days, Australia has been made up of people from many different ethnic backgrounds and diverse belief systems. Rather than damage or destroy it, this rich diversity has made the country stronger, more vibrant and ultimately more successful. Australia's Muslim community is very much a part of that strength and diversity.

Moreover, Muslims are certainly not the only group who use certification processes to evaluate types of food or services. Nor are they the only group to charge companies a fee if they wish to receive such certification and display specific logos or symbols. Kosher Australia also runs a certification program that allows Jewish citizens to help ascertain if certain foods are proper and fit for them to eat. Like Halal certification organizations, Kosher Australia also charges a fee for certification and for the privilege of displaying the Kosher logo. In fact, according to information on the Kosher Australia website, "Kosher Australia has begun initiatives with the Australian Halal Food Services Trust, a major Halal certifier in Australia" with a view to taking advantages of "synergies between the two markets".

Even the well-respected Heart Foundation Tick program charges companies for the use of the symbol, albeit only to generate revenue to run the scheme. In fact, a number of other interest groups run similar fee-based certification programs including HACCP Australia and various organic food entities such as The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA).

That said, part of the reason that the protest message is causing such consternation is that it is seemingly difficult to find information about how much these Halal certification services charge their clients, what generated revenues are used for and how much of the money is cycled back into running the services. Michael Smith notes that the person he contacted seemed reluctant to disclose any information about fee structures or use of funds. In a response to my enquirers, Mohamed El-Mouelhy, Chairman of HACC, explained that certification fees were well known to his clients and there was no need to advertise them. He also notes that Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) conducts annual audits of his organization. I have included a full copy of Mr El-Mouelhy comments below:

Thank you for your email and article regarding Halal certification.

Unlike Kosher certification, the Heart foundation certification, Organic certification etc, Halal certification is regulated by the Federal Government through an approved arrangement with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). Halal Certification Authority Australia (HCAA) generates 8 billion dollars for the economy of this country through exports. Our fees are well known to our clients and we have no need to advertise them to all and sundry. Unlike other types of certifiers we are audited annually by AQIS and like every company in this country we are financially audited by a chartered accountant. We pay company tax as well as income tax.

Halal certification has created 30,000 jobs directly and about 400,000 jobs indirectly and all the misguided writer of these emails are doing their best to accuse HCAA and the manufacturers it certifies of being involved directly or indirectly of terrorism.

The true terrorists are the writers of these emails who seem to be a combination of xenophobes, bigots and ignorant people determined to sabotage one third of Australia’s food export that HCAA helped build over the years.

HCAA will not justify its existence to a kangaroo court nor will it reveal its income and expenditure to other then the Taxman and other government departments.

Those suspecting us of doing anything to harm Australia are advised to immediately call the Australian Federal Police on 1800 333 000 who are the legitimate entity to investigate such allegations rather than the internet to sabotage Australian exports.

Kind regards
Mohamed El-Mouelhy

Given the often volatile relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims largely caused by the heinous acts of a violent and hate-motivated minority of Muslim extremists, it would seem to be in the best interests of law-abiding Muslim entities to be as transparent and forthcoming as possible with regard to activities such as Halal Certification. Simple acts of good will, such as openly publishing the fee structure and an outline of revenue use on Halal Certification websites, would certainly help to alleviate the fears of non-Muslims who receive the above email. While publicly disclosing such information might seem irksome and an unfair requirement, those operating Halal Certification organizations would do well to recognize the climate of fear and loathing caused by the terrorist minority who purport to share their faith and take active steps to allay the concerns of the wider Australian community. A simple guideline to Halal Certification pricing such as that published on the Kosher Australia website for Kosher Certification might be a positive first step.

Nicotine Added Coffee Hoax Mail - - Claims That Tim Hortons, Canadian Coffee And Doughnut Chain, Adding Nicotine And Causing Health Problems

Be Ware! it's a Cyber World - - Brief Summary:
Message claims that Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, Tim Hortons, adds nicotine to its coffee and that patrons have suffered serious health problems as a result.

Subject: about Tim Horton's coffee nicotine

Tim horton's THIS IS INTERESTING!!!!! Please Read

I'm not sure if this is true or not...but if it is, you'll certainly be seeing this in the news someday soon....I quess will just have to wait and see.

Are you a Non- Smoker or Against smoking all together ? Do you ever wonder why you have to have your coffee every morning?


A man from Arkansas came up to Canada for a visit only to find himself in the hospital after a couple of days. Doctor's told him that he had suffered of cardiac arrest. He was allergic to Nicotine. The man did not understand why that would of happened as he does not smoke knowing full well he was allergic to Nicotine. He told the doctor that he had not done anything different while he was on vacation other than having Tim Horton's coffee.

The man then went back to Tim Horton's and asked what was in their coffee.

Tim Horton's refuses to divulge that information. After threatening legal action, Tim Horton's finally admitted.....


A girl I know was on the patch to quit smoking. After a couple of days she was having chest pains & was rushed to the hospital. The doctor told her that she was on a Nicotine overload. She swore up & down that she had not been smoking. SHE WAS HAVING HER COFFEE EVERY MORNING.

Now imagine a women who quits smoking because she finds out that she is pregnant, but still likes to have her Tim Horton's once in a while.


Be Ware! it's a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This foolish piece of baseless scaremongering has now been circulating for several years.

The message claims that Canadian coffee and doughnut chain, Tim Hortons, adds nicotine to its coffee and that patrons have suffered serious health problems as a result. However, these claims are totally unfounded. Tim Hortons does not add nicotine to its coffee nor has it ever done so.

Tim Hortons denies the rumour in a statement on its website:
This urban myth is just that. a myth!

Tim Hortons customers expect and deserve high quality coffee that is always fresh and consistent, along with fast, efficient service and all at a good value. Tim Hortons would like to clearly state that there is absolutely NO nicotine or MSG in our coffee. Tim Hortons coffee has NO ADDITIVES whatsoever. It is made only from a blend of the highest quality premium Arabica beans from several different coffee growing countries.

Tim Hortons decaffeinated coffee also contains no additives. It is decaffeinated through what is called the Swiss Water method, which is the purest manner of removing caffeine from the coffee. Tim Hortons believes that our focus on quality, service and value, is what keeps our customers coming back for more!
Furthermore, a 2004 investigation by CBC News confirmed the Tim Hortons statement. CBC had samples of Tim Hortons coffee independently tested. These tests revealed that Tim Hortons coffee had no measurable amount of nicotine. They also revealed that Tim Hortons coffee generally has less caffeine than that sold by Second Cup or Starbucks.

The message advises recipients that they might soon see this information on the news. However, there is no logic to this claim. If Tim Hortons was really adding a dangerous substance such as nicotine to its coffee, it would already be a major news story. The mainstream media would certainly not sit back and let such a sensational story travel solely by way of a poorly written email forward.

Thus, this bogus warning has absolutely no basis in fact and it should not be forwarded.

Lottery Scam of $3,000,000.00 Using The Name of Common Wealth Of Nations

Dear Readers,

Here's another very recent attempt by Cyber Criminals to fool me up and, who knows, thousands of others like me. The mail is presented here as it is for your review. Take a look and Be Ware! It's a Cyber World.

The Common Wealth Of Nations
Sent: Fri, October 23, 2009 3:27:00 PM
Subject: End Of Year Bonanza

Our Dear Winner,

You have won the sum of$3,000,000.00 (Three Million,United States Dollars) from Commonwealth Lottery on our 2009 end of year charity bonanza.The winning ticket was selected from a Data Base of Internet E-mail Users,from which your Address came out as the winning coupon.We hereby urge you to claim the winning amount quickly as this is a monthly lottery. Failure to claim your win will result into the reversion of the fund to our following month.You are therefore requested to contact immediately our Claims Department below quoting winning number: LOTTERY NUMER:05-08-10-18-20-46-{43}. COMMON WEALTH DRAWS AGENT
Barr. Walter Raymond


Congratulations once again. please quote your lottery number.

Online coordinator for Commonwealth
Sweepstakes International Program.


I would love to see your comments and views on this recent attempt.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Obama Muslim Stamp - USPS Muslim Holiday Stamp Release Protest Message

Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Brief Summary:

Email claims that US President Obama has directed the US Postal Service to release a new stamp that honours the Muslim EID holiday season.

Actually, such stamps do exist but they are not new and they were not issued on the order of President Obama. They were first issued in 2001 and have been reissued several times since.


Subject: Obama Muslim Stamp

What in Heavens name was he thinking?????? Lord, help our country.

USPS New 42-Cent Stamp!!! Celebrates Muslim holiday.

If there is only ONE thing you forward today... let it be this!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of Pan Am Flight 103!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon !

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military Barracks in Saudi Arabia !

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American Embassies in Africa !

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE!

REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on 9/11/2001 !

REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks!

Now President Obama has directed the United States Postal Service to REMEMBER and HONOR the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a new commemorative 42 Cent First Class Holiday Postage Stamp..

REMEMBER to adamantly & vocally BOYCOTT this stamp, when you are purchasing your stamps at the post office.

All you have to say is "No thank you, I do not want that Muslim Stamp on my letters!"

To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.

Pass this along to every Patriotic AMERICAN that you know and let's get the word out !!!

Here is something to chew on...

They (MUSLIMS) don't even believe in Christ, & they're getting their own Christmas stamp! BUT, don't dare to dream of posting the ten commandments on federal property! This is truly UNBELIEVABLE !!!


Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Explanation

According to this protest message, US President Obama recently directed the United States Postal Service (USPS) to release a new commemorative holiday stamp that honours the Muslim Eid holiday period. The email berates Obama for his decision to release the stamp, citing a long list of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic extremists. It calls on patriotic Americans to boycott the stamp and pass on the information to others.

Such a stamp certainly does exist, but its release was not the result of a directive from President Obama. In fact, the Eid holiday stamp was first issued back in 2001, long before Obama came to power. The stamp has subsequently been reissued several times since 2001, including in September 2009 in a 44 cent version. Information about the stamp on the USPS website notes:

First issued in 2001, the stamp commemorates the two most important festivals in the Islamic calendar: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. On these days, Muslims wish each other “eid mubarak,” the phrase featured in calligraphy on the stamp, which translates as “blessed festival” or “may your religious holiday be blessed.”

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan with prayers, feasting, exchanging gifts, and visiting family and friends. Signifying “The Feast of Sacrifice,” Eid al-Adha occurs approximately two months and ten days after Eid al-Fitr. Eid al-Adha comes at the end of the hajjae, the annual period of pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca and commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail. The stamp was developed with the help of Muslim consultants and experts in Islamic studies.

And a 2001 USPS news release provides more details about the original, 34 cent version of the Eid stamp. It notes:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Postal Service is expanding its Holiday Celebrations Series with a new stamp highlighting the Muslim holiday of Eid.

The 34-cent Eid stamp will be issued on Sept. 1 at the annual Islamic Society of North America's convention at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 North River Road, Des Plaines, Ill, at 11:45 a.m. The stamp will be available at the convention and at post offices nationwide on Sept. 1.

"This is a proud moment for the Postal Service, the Muslim community, and Americans in general as we issue a postage stamp to honor and commemorate two important Islamic celebrations," said Azeezaly S. Jaffer, Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications for the Postal Service, who will dedicate the stamp. "The Eid stamp will help us highlight the business, educational and social contributions of the estimated six to seven million Muslims in this country whose cultural heritage has become an integral part of the fabric of this great nation."

Thus, the stamp was first issued when George W. Bush was President of the United States. At the time, information about the release was published on the White House website. Versions of the protest email have been circulating since soon after the initial release of the stamp in 2001. The current version is very similar to earlier versions except that it incorrectly attempts to link the issuing of the stamp with President Obama.

During their presidencies, both former President Bush and current President Obama have published notices on the White House website extending Eid greetings to the US Muslim community.

USS New York Built With Scrap Steel Saved From The Remains of The World Trade Center

Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Brief Summary:

Message claims that steel left from the World Trade Center is being used in the construction of new navy assault ship, USS New York.


Artists Rendering of the USS New York

With a year to go before it even touches the water, the Navy's amphibious assault ship USS New York has already made history. It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.

USS New York is about 45 percent complete and should be ready for launch in mid-2007 . Katrina disrupted construction when it pounded the Gulf Coast last summer, but the 684-foot vessel escaped serious damage, and workers were back at the yard near New Orleans two weeks after the storm.

It is the fifth in a new class of warship designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.

"It would be fitting if the first mission this ship would go on is to make sure that bin Laden is taken out, his terrorist organization is taken out," said Glenn Clement, a paint foreman. "He came in through the back door and knocked our towers down and (the New York) is coming right through the front door, and we want them to know that."

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, La., to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003, "those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. "It was a spiritual moment for everybody there."

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the "hair on my neck stood up."

"It had a big meaning to it for all of us," he said. "They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back."

The ship's motto? - 'Never Forget'


Be Ware! It's a Cyber World - - Explanation:

This message, which travels via email and is also a popular blog and forum post, claims that a portion of a new US warship named "USS New York" is being built with scrap steel saved from the remains of the World Trade Center.

The claims in the message are true. According to a US Navy Fact Sheet about the new ship:

Steel salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage will be used in the construction of New York. The shipyard and Navy inspected the steel and found that it was of sufficient material strength so that it could be incorporated into the bow stem of New York.

"We're very proud that the twisted steel from the WTC towers will soon be used to forge an even strong national defense," said New York Gov. George Pataki. "The USS New York will soon be defending freedom and combating terrorism around the globe, while also ensuring that the world never forgets the evil attacks of September 11, 2001 and the courage and strength New Yorkers showed in response to terror."

The Fact Sheet also notes that New York's Governor specifically requested a future warship be given the name "USS New York" to commemorate the victims of the World Trade Center attack:

Governor George E. Pataki wrote a letter to Secretary England requesting that the Navy revive the name USS New York in honor of September 11's victims and to give it a surface warship involved in the war on terror. In his letter, the Governor said he understood state names presently are reserved for submarines but asked for special consideration so the name could be given to a surface ship. The request was approved August 28, 2002.

The ship is being built by Northrop Grumman Corporation's Ship Systems sector. A 2003 Northrop Grumman News Release discusses the use of World Trade Center steel in the project and notes:

Our company will treat this steel with dignity and respect," said Dr. Philip A. Dur, president, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems. "This piece of steel has been washed with the tears of Americans and hardened by millions of prayers from around the world. It is our hope that we can bring strength and victory to this steel and to the whole of LPD 21, and that the spirit of the people who represent her namesake state will fill her future crews with pride and bravery.

The information used in the message was taken from an Associated Press article published in April 2006. The artist's rendering of the USS New York that came with the original message was supplied by Northrop Grumman and depicts how the ship might look "steaming through New York Harbor with lower Manhattan and the building that may replace the World Trade Center in the background".

USS New York (LPD 21) will be the fifth vessel in the San Antonio class of amphibious transport ships and will be based in Norfolk, Virginia when completed. The vessel was officially christened "New York" in March 2008.

According to information on the USS New York website, the commissioning of the ship is scheduled to take place on November 7 2009 at a pier in New York Harbor. The article notes:

Saturday, Nov. 7th, 2009 - Commissioning Day for PCU New York

"Its been 2948 days since the attack, more than a day for every man, woman and child killed. The greatest testament to our resolve is being commissioned into service with the United States Navy. There will be speeches, songs, tears, and emotions so strong its hard to speak. With the words Man your ship and bring her to life the world will change, at least for us. She will never fill the hole, but she will fill our hearts."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Michelle's Story - - Spyware Problem and $500 Gift Certificate

Michelle, an anesthetician from Kansas got her first computer three years ago, and she enjoyed receiving emails from her old college friends. She also liked to look at the latest beauty products online, although she never purchased any. She was a single mother supporting two sons, and the primary use of the computer was for the boys to look up information for school projects.

However, over the last year, Michelle noticed her computer seemed to be moving more slowly. In fact, by the time we interviewed her, she and her two boys had stopped using the computer altogether because it was so slow that it was unusable.

Over Christmas, she wanted to purchase some small gifts for some of the people she worked with. In particular, she wanted to locate some live ladybugs to give to one of the girls at work. So, not having a computer to use at home, she borrowed her grandmother's computer to locate and purchase the ladybugs. After a short time, she noticed her grandmother's computer seemed to be moving slowly too, so she decided that computers were just not for her.

Michelle's new boyfriend, however, was a computer science and engineering student, and when she told him about the slowed computers, he guessed the problem right away: spyware. He downloaded a spyware detection program and confirmed his diagnosis. It took him several days to untangle the mess, but eventually the spyware was removed and the computers were back to normal. He installed antivirus and security software for Michelle and her grandmother, and they were soon both back online. However, the story does not end here.

While Michelle was using her grandmother's computer, she had received a pop-up ad announcing she had won a $500 prize. All she had to do was answer a few questions, and she could claim her $500 shopping spree to a local department store. Michelle answered the questions, and then was told she had to buy two small items before getting her gift certificate. She ordered the two least expensive items from the gift menu, gave her credit card information as requested, and then attempted to put in the rest of the information to claim her $500 gift certificate.

However, the Web site would not accept her information, and after several attempts she gave up and decided to email the site owners, hoping they would help her get things sorted out. She wrote to them twice, but never received a reply. Her credit card was charged for the two 'small items' she agreed to purchase, but she never saw the $500 gift certificate.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hotmail Account Closure Hoax - - Just To Steal Your Personal Information

Be Ware! It's a Cyberworld - - Brief:

Email claims that your Hotmail (or Yahoo) account will be terminated if you don't forward the message. Different real examples are presented below:



Dear Hotmail User,

Because of the sudden rush of people signing up to Hotmail, it has come to our attention that we are vastly running out of resources. So, within a month's time, anyone who does not receive this email with the exact subject heading, will be deleted off our server. Please forward this email so that we know you are still using this account.


We want to find out which users are actually using their Hotmail accounts. So if you are using your account, please pass this e-mail to every Hotmail user that you can and if you do not pass this letter to anyone we will delete your account.


Subject: Fwd: Warning - Hotmail users

WARNING WARNING Hotmail is overloading and we need to get rid of some people and we want to find out which users are actually using their Hotmail accounts. So if you are using your account, please pass this e-mail to every Hotmail user that you can and if you do not pass this letter to anyone we will delete your account.

From Mr. Jon Henerd

Hotmail Admin. Dept.


Hello to everyone from the Hotmail Headquarters! This is just a little test to see who is actively using their email account and in effect deleting all inactive users accounts. This process will make the whole site faster and easier to use for the active users. Now on to what to do with this email. All you have to do is forward this on to at least 10 registered Hotmail users. If you don't forward this on within 48 hours of reading it, your account will be deactivated momentarily until you contact Hotmail Headquarters.


MSN as you might know is having some technical difficulties due to the amount of accounts registered. Forward this message by copy and pasting it to all the people on your contact list so that our server recognizes your account as active. All accounts who do not will be removed within 24 hours so that the network is not overloaded with inactive accounts .


Be Ware! It's a Cyberworld - - Explanation:

According to this message, the recipient's Hotmail account will be deactivated or deleted if he or she does not forward the email to a number of other people. However, the claims in the message are untrue and the email is not from Hotmail's management. In fact , the message is a long running hoax that has spawned dozens of variants since it first began circulating back in 1999. As well as spreading via email, the hoax also makes its way around the world via instant messaging and social networking websites

Like a lot of hoaxes, this one banks on the fact that many people will hit the "forward" button without analyzing the information very deeply. Even if Hotmail was "running out of resources", it certainly would not attempt to remedy the problem by asking customers to forward an email. Hotmail, or any other webmail system, would not employ such a vague, hit and miss method of checking on the status of account holders. It seems likely that such services have sophisticated and precise methods of checking the activity levels of accounts that do not require the account holder to reply to or forward a specific message.

Although the above example is aimed at Hotmail, variations of the hoax have also targeted Yahoo and AIM instant messaging customers.

Phishing scammers have used similar "account closure" warnings as a means of tricking recipients into disclosing their account login and other personal details.

Email Hoax Spread All-Over The World - - Invisible Man Painted by Chinese Artist Liu Bolin

Be Ware! It's a Cyberworld - - Brief:

Message claims that attached photographs depict a man who paints himself in such a way that he appears to blend into the background to such an extent that he is almost invisible.


Subject: Invisible man

This guy paints himself, no kidding, no trick photography he just paints himself.


Be Ware! It's a Cyberworld - - Explanation:
According to this forwarded email, attached photographs show a man who skillfully paints himself so that he so closely resembles his surroundings that he appears to be virtually invisible. At first glance, these amazing images may appear to be the result of digital manipulation and indeed a number of self-proclaimed experts have already dismissed them as being "photoshopped".

However, the images are in fact genuine photographs depicting the work of clever Chinese artist Liu Bolin. The Beijing based artist has exhibited his work around the world with shows in China, Paris, the United States and elsewhere. notes that Mr Bolin is a perfectionist who can take up to ten hours to ready himself for photographs of his performances. The UK's Telegraph also reports on Mr Bolin's art, nothing:
In a series of mind-boggling pictures Liu melts into any background, almost entirely invisible in front of red phone boxes, Chinese flags and even earthquake rubble.

It means people walking by while he is carrying out his performance often have no idea he is nearby until he moves away. Liu said he wanted to show how city surroundings affected people living in them and how.

He said the inspiration behind his work was a sense of not fitting in to modern society and as a silent protest against the Government's persecution of artists.
Mr Bolin generally uses assistants who help to paint him in readiness for performances.

Employment Scam - - A Lucrative Job Offer From Fake "British Natinal Oil Company (BNOC)"

Today I want to share a recent email I received that can be categorized as "Employment Scam". The mail is from 'BRITISH NATIONAL OIL COMPANY ' and offering a lucrative job without my formal application.

The mail is being copied below as it is; so that every reader of mine should be aware of the recent strategy of cybercriminals.



I am Mr. Carl Mann,The Human Resource Personnel(Snr.HR officer) to
British National Oil Company(BNOC).

This is a great opportune moment for an exotic candidates (outside UNITED
KINGDOM) who wish to work here in the United Kingdom in different skills
such as Primary Skill Labour (PSL), Secondary Skill Labour(SSL) and Semi
Skill Labour(SSL2) under the management of our company .
The British National Oil Company is eagerly in need of successful
candidates. The salary for our candidates in their respective sections
varies in nature of their professions.

Software,Hardware,EDP- �4,500
sales- �4,000
Marketing & communication- �4,800
Purchase/Supply- �4,000
Finance & Accounts- �5800
Insurance- �5,000
Production- �6,000
Engineering- �6,000(varies)
Pharmaceutical- �5,500
customer Service- �5,000
Telecommunication- �5,500
Medical and Health care- �6,000(varies)
Hotels & Restaurant- �4,500
Senior Management.- �8,000 and above
Oil & Gas- �7,000(Varies)
Constructions- �6,500
Other benefits include:

1. Five Bedroom Flat Duplex
2. Free Medical & Travel Insurance
3. 10 Days Leave / break/ Vacation after every 90 working days
4. Flight Fares (Air Tickets)
5. Free Education Scheme to expatriates children/family
6. Free Toyota Camry 2006 Model.
A. One Reference Letter. B. Passport Copy.

The Documents should be provide to us through scan e-mail attachment
For fast processing, because all the positions need expatriates" who
Can be able to start up employment in the month of June/July 2009, and
all the
Arrangement need to be made as fast as possible.

We looking forward to hearing from you

Tel:+44 7045 70135
Email Contact: (

British National Oil Company (BNOC)
Rubi slaw Hill,Anderson Drive Aberdeen,25 Chapel Street,London,Registered
No SF275
Contact Person: Mr Carl Mann


You may be the next prospective victim; so Be ware! It's a Cyberworld.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Warning: Serious Scam Involving IRS (W8 BEN)

There is a serious scam involving IRS (Internal Revenue Service, USA) which can fool even the most web-savvy people. Please read below for details on how you can protect yourself from this email which appears to genuinely come from IRS, inquiring about your tax exemption status.

I received an email today which states:

Our record indicates that you are a non-resident alien. As a result, you are exempted from United States of
America (USA) Tax reporting and withholdings on interest paid into your account and other financial
dealing. To protect your exemption from tax on your account and other financial benefit, you need to
recertify your exempt status. Therefore, you are to authenticate the following by completing form W-
8BEN, and return to us as soon as possible through the fax number: +1 -206-202-0110

If you are a USA Citizen and Resident Alien, this form W-8BEN is not meant for you, please indicate
“USA Citizen/Resident” on the form and return it to us. We shall then send you a form W9095.

When completing form W-8BEN, please follow the steps below.
We need you to provide your permanent address if different from the current mailing address on your

Form W-8BEN you must indicate if a non-USA resident, your country of origin to support your non-
resident status (if your bank account or other financial dealing has a USA address for mailing purpose).

If any joint account holder is now USA resident or Citizen, or in any way subject to USA tax reporting
laws, Please check the box in this section.

Please have all account holder(s) sign and date the form separately and fax it to the above-mentioned fax

We wrote to you in April 2009 asking for this identification but have not received any reply. Please,
complete Form W-8BEN ‘attached” and return to us within 2 (two) weeks from the receipt of this letter
by faxing it, to enable us update your records immediately. If your account or any other financial benefits
are not rectified in a timely manner, it will be subjected to USA tax reporting and back up withholding (if
back up withholding applies, we are required by Law to withhold 30% of the interest paid to you).
We appreciate your cooperation in helping us protect your exempt status and also update our records.

The email looked genuine at first because:

  • It didn't direct me to a website to fill-out a form or authenticate myself
  • The email address appeared to be from IRS at first glance (detailed investigation found it to be fraudulent)
  • The information was provided in pdf documents which is relatively immune to viruses

However on detailed investigation I found it to be yet another phishing scam, an innovative one I must admit. So what gave it away?

How to identify such phishing attempts?

Instead of talking about generic ways to protect yourself from phishing scams, I will detail how I found out that this was a phishing attempt.

Identify origin of email

The email originated from:
Received: from User ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.3959);

First of all IRS would never route their email through a Chilean site ( is owned by Municipalidad de Cerrillos). They aren't that cheap. IRS surely owns their own email server when even small companies like us can own them. In fact IRS mail server is located at

Note: I got the information about the site from whois records.

The email was originally received from the following IP address:
This IP address can be faked, so having a valid IP address is no guarantee that the email originated from a proper location. However the email is definitely scam when this IP address doesn't belong to the organization the email is claiming to come from.

In this case the IP address is owned by (used nslookup to find out), provider of web based business applications for communication which leverages Google applications like GMail etc. Again IRS will never send email from such setup. The address isn't owned by IRS.

How to contact?

The most innovative aspect of this scam is that it doesn't ask you to go to a fake website or send an email, both of which can easily be reported and taken down, but asks you to FAX the information instead.

The fax number is +1-206-202-0110

A reverse phone lookup at indicated that it is an unlisted Seattle address. Why would IRS unlist their FAX address?
Secondly I never worked in Seattle nor earned anything there. IRS does have an office in Seattle (Phone: 1-206-220-6015) but surely there is not reason why it would contact a person who never stayed there nor earned anything there and that too from an unlisted address.

In light of these evidences, I could conclusively determine that this was a fraud / scam. I hope the fax number is traced by government officials to shutdown this scam asap.

What is the standard operating procedure of the organization?

IRS is never known to communicate by email. It uses snail-mail.

What is phishing?

I have used the word phishing repeatedly without explaining it. In not so simple terms (will simplify later), phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, bank account details, credit card details etc. by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication, mostly by email or instant message. Communications appearing to be from popular social web sites, government authorities like IRS as was in this case, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public in handing out their sensitive information.

It often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. In this case however they have innovated and directing you to fax the information instead, making it look even more legitimate.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Increasing Online Clicking By "Virtual People" Hurting Google Adsense and It's Advertisers

Since earning online is relatively easier than just working offline, some people try to abuse this easy-money industry. And in this process, Google Adsense and its advertisers become thoroughly affected by people who try to abuse the system. Did you know that a considerable huge amount of money (around 1 billion dollars) fall to the hands of online click fraudsters. This money comes from the hands of advertisers who have dedicated their investments in trying to obtain a good return of investment. But to their dismay, they become victims of online click fraudsters and receive nothing less but online clicks from “virtual people”.

Ideally, Google and publishers/site owners are considered as partners trying to advertise the ads produced by Adsense. Advertisers pay Google on a per click basis, whenever people click on their ads and is directed to the advertiser’s site. This earnings made by Google is then divided with the site owners, who also provided traffic to the advertiser’s site. However, the former decides how much the latter will earn, which may depend on different factors.

This mutual relationship of earning is flawed due to the existence of online click fraudsters. These fraudsters click on different Adsense ads in the hope of creating more income. Moreover, most have even created blogs or sites for the sole purpose of extracting revenue from these Adsense ads. Thus, they prey on the advertiser’s money and eventually, the advertiser loses money.

To gain more ranking, fraudsters make use of clickbot software to establish networks of sites and click bots. Other fraudsters try to over click ads in their sites, which results to an unstable Click through Ratio or CTR. While some may get away with it, people who are caught become banned from using their accounts and are not given what Google Adsense owes them for the month. To be able to not encounter the same fate of losing your Adsense account, one should not commit acts of online fraud.

These advertisers have placed online ads in the hope of also earning more money. Presence of fraudsters gives these advertisers less chance of having a good ROI. Due to chance of losing more money online and getting less of what they are paying for, they may consider not to advertise anymore using PPC. Hence, the online community might lose one of its sources of online revenue if this has not been given much attention.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Koby: Another Victim of "Look-a-Like" Website - - Cheated on eBay Identical Page

Some of the phishing methods can get pretty sophisticated. Koby, a middle school instructor, recently fell victim to such a scheme. Koby was using eBay to sell one of his vehicles, and he found a suitable buyer within several days. The buyer paid for the vehicle, and Koby removed its listing from eBay.

He was somewhat puzzled when he logged into his eBay account and was informed he had "one item for sale". He looked at the page, and sure enough, there was the vehicle - the same one he’d just sold - for sale. Then he noticed something wrong - very wrong. The email address that was listed for his contact information was not his. It was very similar, so much so that most people would not ever notice or suspect, but Koby did, and he knew something was just not right.

He emailed the "seller", and offered to buy the vehicle, and made arrangements to send the money to the seller. As it turned out, the "seller" was located in Chicago. Koby gave the FBI the information, and they tracked down the fraudsters. How did the fraudsters gain access to Koby’s account in the first place? A phishing email stating his account had been compromised asked him to click on a URL to go to his eBay account. He clicked, was taken to a page that looked identical to his eBay login page, and typed in his account information. The criminals used that information to log into his legitimate account and change the contact phone number.

Give-Away Scam - - L.P.C. Electronics Sony Vaio Laptop Giveaway Hoax

Message claims that L.P.C. Electronics is giving away Sony Vaio Laptop to recipients who forward the email to twenty other people.


Subject: Sony Laptop


L.P.C. Electronics is giving away free laptops as part of a new promotion. This is a campaign to increase the popularity and sales.

You are 100% guaranteed to win a free Sony Vaio Laptop VGN-AW270 if you send this email to 20 other people. The stock for these laptops is limited so make sure to send out the emails as fast as possible.

Forward a copy along with verification to: [Address removed} You will receive an email with more information: Kind Regards,
Eve Gibson [IT Manager L.P.C.]


It's for real, I just received it!!

Note: The hoax normally circulates in the form of the following graphic:


Be Ware It's a Cyber World-Explanation:
This message claims that, just by forwarding the email to 20 other people, the lucky recipient is 100% guaranteed to "win" a free Sony Vaio Laptop VGN-AW270. According to the message, a company named L.P.C. Electronics is giving away the laptops as part of a promotional campaign to increase popularity and sales.

However, the claims in the email are untrue. L.P.C. Electronics is not giving away free laptops in exchange for sending on an email. Nor is any other company. In fact, the email is just one more incarnation in a long line of similar hoaxes. The message is very similar to an earlier email hoax that falsely claimed that Sony Ericsson was distributing free laptops to those who forwarded the message:

And the Sony Ericsson laptop hoax email was in turn just a mutated version of an even earlier hoax that claimed that Sony Ericsson was giving away free mobile phones. Other versions of the hoax have claimed that Nokia was the company distributing free phones in exchange for forwarding. And one mutation of the hoax even claimed that the recipient could get a free power inverter just for sending on the message.

There are several businesses that trade under the name "L.P.C. Electronics", located in various parts of the world including the United States, Australia and India. It is unclear which of these, if any, is being targeted in this version of the hoax. It is possible that the name was simply made up for the occasion by the pranksters responsible for generating this particular variant of the hoax. Emails sent to the address included in the hoax message have so far gone unanswered.

In truth, any message that claims that a company is giving away products, services, gift vouchers or cash to those who forward on a specified email is virtually certain to be a hoax. No legitimate company is ever likely to engage in a promotion that is reliant on the random and uncontrolled forwarding of an email. While companies regular use prizes and giveaways as part of their promotional campaigns, such promotions will invariably be tightly controlled via specific terms and conditions and entry cutoff dates.

The "get something free just for forwarding an email" is a favourite ruse of Internet pranksters and has been the engine driving the spread of a large number of absurd, inbox cluttering junk email since the early days of the Internet. One of the most prolonged of these hoaxes has been the infamous Money from Microsoft hoax which claims that Bill Gates is paying considerable sums of money to those who participate in a "beta test" by forwarding an email to as many people as possible. This hoax has circulated continually for at least a decade.

As a rule of thumb, if a message claims that you can receive a free giveaway just for sending on an email, it is very likely to be just another hoax in a long and sorry line of similar hoaxes and should be deleted rather than forwarded.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Password": A Key To Your Cyber Safety - - How to Make a Good Online Password???

There are many occasions, when using computers or the Internet, where you are asked (or recommended) to create a password, or a Personal Identification Number or PIN. (A PIN is just a type of password where all the characters are numbers).

They form an important part of the suite of measures that you should be using to ensure that your sensitive information and financial details remain secure. However, it should be noted that they need to be used in conjunction with other security measures such as using anti virus and anti spyware products and having a firewall.

So, what makes a good password? Having worked in online banking for many years, my tips are as follows:

- Never write down your password, especially in a place that is in close vicinity to your computer.

- Don't use obvious number combinations for PINs, i.e. 1234, or your birthday.

- Similarly, don't use your name or that of a relative, or a pet's name, or your favourite sports team or rock band. In other words, try to avoid words that a fraudster might be able to guess from information he/she has gained about you. (Remember that fraud is sometimes perpetrated by people who are known to the victim).

- Use a combination of letters and numbers and symbols where this is allowed.

- The longer your password, the more secure it is likely to be. (Microsoft provide this guidance 'Each character that you add to your password increases the protection that it provides many times over. Your passwords should be 8 or more characters in length; 14 characters or longer is ideal.'

- Don't use the same password for all the sites you access. This increases your risk, and may even breach the terms and conditions of sites that you have registered for. e.g. If a fraudster set up a fake porn site and got you to enter a password, and they then successfully used that password to access and defraud your bank account, then the bank might not feel obliged to provide a refund.

Another thing that you may want to consider is taking two separate words and putting them together. e.g. Car and Spoon for a password of Carspoon, or even better have the oohs as zeros for Carsp00n. What you're trying to do is to avoid using single dictionary words that fraudsters may be able to set programs to crack.

Password management is very important too. If you periodically change your password, this further increases the security of your information. Many companies recognise this and require employees to change the password used to logon to work PCs on a monthly basis.

Another good security measure to look out for is sites who only ever ask for partial PIN or password. This further reduces the likelihood of a fraudster breaching your security. Most banks, for example, ask for partial PIN and/or password, and they normally present advice along the lines of 'Remember that we will never ask you to supply your complete password in order to access our internet banking service we only ever ask for parts of your password.' This helps to reduce the likelihood of people falling for scam phishing attacks.

Finally, you need to be able to remember the password. I could create a password of, for example, Fp8;73gh91 but my chances of remembering it would be about zero! If you need to write the password down, then that defeats the purpose of it. So, creating a good online password is about getting the right balance between usability (will I remember it?) and security (could a fraudster guess it?)

And you may also want to vary the level of complexity that you use depending on the nature of the website. For example, I definitely want a very secure password for my bank's online banking service, but I'm less bothered about an entertainment site (where I haven't had to enter any sensitive information) that sends me updates about gigs!

P.S. Sensitive information is typically seen as information that a fraudster could use to his/her advantage. It includes things such as your date of birth, mother's maiden name, etc. For example, these bits of information may be used by organisations when they're trying to validate that you are who you say you are ... so having them increases the fraudster's chances of impersonating and defrauding you.

Anti-Cyber Crime Efforts - - Campaign to Counter Nigerian Cybercrime Gains Momentum

Huge numbers of impoverished young people in Nigeria have been expending a massive amount of energy and talent to commit cybercrimes.

According to a report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, Nigeria (with a population of 146 million) is third place among countries having the largest numbers of cyber-perpetrators.

But a small consulting firm known as Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is determined to help redirect that youthful energy toward positive online engagement. Its plan of attack includes a grand vision, an ambitious grass-roots culture-change campaign, and an influential partner -- Microsoft Nigeria, which is providing a $50,000 grant and other services.

PIN, based in the Nigerian city of Lagos, aims to use information and communication technologies to bring about socio-economic transformation. It refers to its nationwide campaign as the Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (ISSPIN).

The major components of the year-long initiative, according to PIN executive director ‘Gbenga Sesan, include the following:

1) Anti-cybercrime workshops. These were conducted during October 2008 for over 500 high school students across three African states.

2) A national one-day event. Known as "The Alternative," and held October 25, the event featured popular national entertainers, anti-cybercrime awards, and educational presentations to an audience of 1,000.

3) Youth ambassadors. Twenty-four young leaders are touring elementary and high schools throughout 11 Nigerian states over a one-year period to raise awareness about cybercrime’s consequences and alternatives. Sesan estimates that they will reach about 2,000 students.

4) Mentoring/training. Microsoft Nigeria will rehabilitate 25 at-risk youths who will be trained to use software development tools and then receive three-month internships with local software companies. The youths will then be encouraged to either seek employment within the software industry or work as independent software developers. The process will also include a mentorship component that allows the interns to benefit beyond technical skills.

5) A national media campaign. Microsoft Nigeria will also provide bumper stickers, distribute over 10,000 free CDs of its digital literacy curriculum, and facilitate a music project with the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, PIN, and Mo Hits Records. “We will be requesting leading Nigerian musicians to collaborate and sing a song… to ask youth to shun cybercrime. At the moment, there are at least two very popular songs that encourage cybercrime -- and these have had impact on the mindset of youth,” Sesan says. Radio and television ads will also support the ISSPIN initiative.

The campaign has attracted the attention of media and institutions within and outside Nigeria, and many wish to become partners in the project.

ISSPIN has had a policy impact in Nigeria as well. “The campaign helped shed light on the need for government to accelerate the passage of the cybercrime bill, and it has remained popular with local media," Sesan says. A bill on cybercrime has been launched in the House of Assembly, and several institutions, including the Nigeria Internet Group, have spoken up to support it.

PIN plans to keep up the momentum. “There are plans for possible expansion over the years -- it’s an annual plan -- by which time we would have been able to attract more partners,” Sesan says.

Let’s wish them luck.

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


Email forwarded supposedly contains a copy of a confidential inter-office memo in which a McDonald's manager advises staff to deliberately leave out products from customer orders as a means of increasing profits.

This widely circulated email supposedly contains a copy of a confidential memo in which a senior McDonald's manager named "Robert Trugabe" suggests that serving staff deliberately leave out items from customer orders as a means of increasing company profits. The memo, which is written on seemingly official McDonald's stationary, contains the following staff advice:
We need to discuss the drive through orders as well. If the girls leave one item out of every second or third order, this adds up to several thousand dollars per week revenue. On smaller orders if they leave out the hot apple pie or fires [sic] and larger orders just 1 burger from every third order this totals around $2,118.00 per day. We need to work out if there is a way of making this a procedure without making it documented.
However, the memo is not from McDonald's Australia and there is no McDonald's manager named "Robert Trugabe". I contacted McDonald's Australia to enquiry about the memo and received the following reply:
Thank you for your email. This memo is a complete fabrication. 'Robert Trugabe' is not a McDonald's Australia employee and never has been. Needless to say the contents of the letter are also completely fabricated. McDonald's practices the highest standards of consumer ethics and would never encourage employees to act in a way that undermines our core customer values.
McDonald's Australia has also published the following customer alert on its website:
The memo in circulation online and via email supposedly written by the Managing Director/Propietor of Frewville McDonald's in South Australia is a complete fabrication. 'Robert Trugabe' is not nor has even been a McDonald's Australia employee. The contents of the letter are also completely fabricated. McDonald's practices the highest standards of consumer ethics and would never encourage employees to act in a way that undermines our core customer values.
An examination of staffing information published on the McDonald's website confirms that there is no managing director named "Robert Trugabe". The name is seemingly a pun on the name of Zimbabwean dictator "Robert Mugabe".

Certainly, big companies can often be quite unscrupulous in their endeavours to maximize profits. However, it is absurd to suggest that a giant and very profitable company like McDonald's would engage in such a desperate and transparent scheme to glean a few extra dollars. Regular and returning customers at suburban McDonald's stores like the one at Frewville would likely be quick to discover any ongoing pattern of missed items. Moreover, in order to be effective, all staff would have to be complicit in the ongoing defrauding of customers and be willing to remain silent about such activities. It is very hard to believe that every one of the "girls" - the wording of the memo suggests that Frewville McDonald's only hires women which in itself is highly questionable - would meekly go along with instructions to deliberately defraud customers.

And, the figures quoted in the message are only realistic if people do not return to collect the items missed from their orders. While a few customers might not have the time or inclination to return to the store, many would certainly do so.

And, finally, it is also extremely hard to believe that any individual that is astute enough to make it to the position of managing director would be so amazingly stupid as to actually document a scheme to deliberately defraud customers thereby risking serious legal and career repercussions when the scheme was inevitable revealed.

Who actually created the fake memo is so far unclear.
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