Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another Internet scam: "Local College Drop-Out Now Makes $10,000+ A Month Online"

A friend asked me to take a look at this "article" she'd seen, which ostensibly describes the success some guy, Mike Steadman, is making online, so I did. At first glance it LOOKS like a page on an online newspaper; it's even cleverly named "Los Angeles Tribune News." [UPDATE 08/05/09: I found out that they're using a GeoIPTargeting system that produces a city name in the "newspaper" title based on your location. That's why it showed up as "Los Angeles Tribune News" for me, while others are seeing the name of a city near to them.] There's only one page: The main one. Odd for a newspaper!

According to the "article," Mike Steadman is raking in money by posting links on Google. Really.

On one side of its masthead there is a fake (i.e., no link to it) "headline" (top left) that says, "Jobs: The Economy 'Jobs are not going to be found as fast as we'd like...'" On the other side of the masthead there's another "headline" that says: "Home Start-Up Kit 'Work From Home On Your Computer...'" and there's a link associated with it.

In fact, the link connected with the latter is the same as ALL the other links on the page--it's under everything, from the "As seen on: ABC, AOL, CNN..." graphic to this photo caption: "Many sites showcase people making as much as $300 a day working online from home on their computer."

At any rate, my curiosity was piqued so I decided to follow that ubiquitous link. It leads to a page on a site called processcartcenter.com. There's a form on the page that says "Limited time offer" and "Fill out the form below to check availability!" It asks for your name, e-mail address, country, ZIP code, and phone number. Wanting to see more, I went ahead and filled it out and then hit "Check availability."

At this point, guess what? THEY HAVE AVAILABILITY! Wow. I'm so impressed. Of course, they want your credit card info...

I'd seen enough so I dropped to a Linux prompt and looked up the whois info for the original site, thetribunedailynews.com. I found that they're brand new, and they're registered through GoDaddy.

Now, recall that the only thing I filled out was the very brief "check availability" form. Guess what? Within HOURS--and I really do mean hours--the spam started FLOODING in. How do I know it originated from that site? Simple: I gave them a unique e-mail address, i.e., an address never given to ANYONE else, ever.

So aside from the very great possibility that the whole thing is a scam to get your credit card info (and, from complaints I found online, it looks like they make unauthorized charges far beyond their $1.97 "processing fee"), it's also a spam magnet. I've NEVER seen spam start pouring in as quickly as I did with this.

Oh, the garbage that the spammers are sending to that unique address? It's automatically going into /dev/null (for you non-Linux/UNIX people, that means it's disappearing, never to be seen again). I set its mailbox up to discard everything as soon as it arrives.


1 comment:

Theriddler said...

That's nuts. I clicked on some link in the right side of facebook and landed on "new york" tribune. I decided to cope the headline and google it. I found you guys, I figured it was too good to be true and that newspaper is obvious.

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