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8. A Scam Using Scare Tactics
Can spam be more than an inconvenience? Check out this scam.
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In December of 2003 we received the letter reproduced below (with our name removed), supposedly from the sales office of Register.Com, a reputable domain registry service. This spam scam is a little more crude than the PayPal scam but there are a few scare factors thrown in for good measure.


Note how this spammer is preying on your potential fears. You would probably be concerned to know you will be charged "only" $1,193.40 per year for kiddie pornography (sexually explicit featuring children under the age of 18), for which mere possession in the USA can send you to jail.

Both the fear of losing a lot of money and being in possession of kiddie porn would probably spur you into taking action immediately. You may want to do one of the following to protect yourself, none of which are advisable.

  1. No! Give the company what-for because you didn't order anything from them.
  2. No! Try to find out what this is all about.
  3. No! Comply with their request.

If you do #1 or #2 you will validate your e-mail address, thus making you the target for ever-more spam. If you do #3 you will be giving up some extremely valuable information to a total stranger.

Let's pick this spam apart and see some of the potential problems that await the unsuspecting.

What the letter says... And what to watch out for.
The top part of the letter tells who sent this and what it is all about.
sales@register.com

Do you know this company? Go on line and find out what kind of business they operate. Then ask yourself if there is a reason this company's sales department should be contacting you.

  • Register.Com is a reputable domain registry service.
  • They don't sell merchandise.
  • They certainly don't sell kiddie porn!
  • Domain registration ranges from under $10 per year per domain to $25 and more, depending on the provider.
Order #073465772. The order number means that you have apparently placed an order with this company.
The body of the letter gives you the details.
Your credit card will be billed at $22.95 weekly ...

This is the initial scare tactic. You are supposedly being charged a horrendous amount of money for something you probably don't remember ordering.

  • Domain registry costs $8-25 or more per domain per year, depending upon the provider, and is billed annually.
  • Why would you be billed $22.95 weekly by a company that bills yearly?
... and free 3 pack of child porn CD is shipping to your billing address.

This is the second scare. In the USA mere possession of child pornography (kiddie porn), which features children under the age of 18, can get you into serious trouble. You really don't want to have this sent to you!

The "pigeon English" should let you know this is not a mailing from a reputable company.

Not free 3 pack of child porn CD is shipping...
Should be free 3 CD pack of child porn will be shipped to...
To cancel your membership and CD pack please email full credit card details ... Since there is an order number on file the company should know your credit card information. Would you like to place a bet as to how many million people supposedly placed Order #073465772?
... to cancel@darkprofits.com

You are being asked to furnish "full credit card details". That is a very vague request. Which credit card? What details? A reputable company will never ask you to confirm this type of information since they already have it.

You are being asked to send this information via an unsecured e-mail connection. A secure connection may be made only to a Website with an https:// address; you will see a locked padlock in your icon tray.

Did you notice that this letter supposedly came from Register.Com? So, why is DarkProfits.Com asking for your personal information? Come to think of it, would you deal with a company named "Dark Profits"?

The last part of the letter is really a marketing pitch.

Ready to enjoy all types of underage porn? Why is there a come-on to view kiddie porn if you have already ordered it?

We have the best selection for every taste! Click the secret link below and have fun...

If you live in the USA the mere possession of kiddie porn can get you into trouble. You don't want it on your hard disk, period! Visits to Websites leave records on your hard disk. Those records can get you into serious trouble if you are under investigation.
www.darkprofits.ws
www.darkprofits.cc

These addresses could be anywhere in the world. If you are a USA resident and you view or download kiddie porn from them you could set yourself up for big-time trouble.

  • We found that these addresses are not valid. WS is not registered and CC returns a bad page error.
  • The .Com and .Net names are registered in Bangkok, Thailand.

So, should you contact Dark Profits and tell them to leave you alone? Should you try to cancel this order? We think not. If you do you will just let them know your e-mail address is valid. This will subject your to yet more spam, and probably lots of it.

Let us repeat some basic information

  • No reputable company will ask you to confirm your account information, your password, or your PIN. They already have this information on file.
  • If there is a password problem with your account the company can reset it and you can change it later.
  • Never, ever ever give out your account number, your user ID, your password, or your PIN. Never. Ever.
  • And, never give out your account number, your user ID, your password, or you PIN. Never. Ever. (Yes, that is doubly redundantly repetitive information. Don't forget it!)

So, should you worry about this letter? This is a scam, plain and simple. We suggest you report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and forward them a copy of the letter, complete with all the headers.

You could put your credit card company or companies on notice that there is a potential problem and have them block any such transactions.

www.fbi.gov Read about the latest scams and tricks.
www.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp The FBI's Internet Fraud Complaint Center
www.ifccfbi.gov/strategy/pressroom.asp FBI press releases.
www.ifccfbi.gov/requirements/pornography.asp File a complaint regarding child pornography.


On December 20, 2003, we received yet another note from Dark Profits advising that someone had tried to use our credit card. It asked us to provide our credit card information and to verify either that this was a valid transaction or that it was not.

They were not terribly smart about this one. The text was unreadable against the white background and it was full of typographical errors, all of which we have preserved below. The "secure Website" they offer is not secure; it has only an HTTP:// address, which is never secure.

Even if they had an HTTPS:// site we would never send this type of information to anyone in response to this type of query. After all, they came to us asking for it; we did not come to them offering to buy something.

Dear customer,

Recently we have received an order made by using your personal credit card information.

This order was made online at our official http://DarkProfits.com or http://DarkProfitsnet website. Our Fraud Department has some suspicions regarding this order and we need you to visit a special Fraud Department page at our web store where you can confirm or decline this transaction by providing us with the correct information.

But, if you have never visited our site or made a purchase, you can decline any charges from you credit card, by entering your personal info below. Or, if you feel this method of verification insecure - please visit our highly secure site http://darkprofits.com or http://darkprofits.net

< Form Field > Enter your credit card number here:

< Form Field > Enter your credit card exp date:

< Form Field > Enter your name as it appears on the credit card:

< Form Field > Enter your address, zip code and city:

<  Button > Yes I did this transaction. Charge my credit card please.
<  Button > No. i have never visited your site before. It seems to be fraud attemt.


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