Saturday, December 24, 2011

Beware of Scam and Phishing Letters

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Recently, I received an email from a person that I know. He is a member of MI, Inc ( Marinduque International, Inc.), a non-profit organization that my wife and I support. Six months ago, I received a similar email from Barcelona, Spain from a member of PAASE (Philippine-American Academy of Science & Engineering) that I also know personally. The first time I received this email from the PAASE member, I immediately called this person to verify. She said that she never sent it, so I was assured it was a scam.

Here's the latest scam letter from my email:

>I'm sorry for this odd request because it might get to you too urgent but it's because of the situation of things right now, I'm stuck in Madrid, Spain with Family right now, we came down here on vacation we were robbed, the situation seems worse as bags, cash, credit cards and cell phone were stolen at GUN POINT, It's such a crazy experience for us, we need help flying back home, the authorities here are not being 100% supportive but the good thing is that we still have our passport but don't have enough money to get our flight ticket back home, please I need you to loan me some money, I will reimburse you right as soon as I'm back home. I promise.

>All we need is 2,300 euros but anything you can spare right now will be appreciated and I promise to refund it to you as soon as I arrive back home safely, I give you my word. You can get it to me through western union, Please get back to me so that I can give you my details to send the money to.

>Thank you
>Name of a Person that you know

This person is a member of an organization that you belong or may be a Relative or a Friend

Note: a few hours after I received the above letter, the daughter of the person who was supposed to be in trouble sent me an email telling me that her Dad is OK, and ensuring me that indeed the above letter is a scam.

Have you received a similar email recently? Did you call the sender immediately to verify?
Recently, I received also two e-mails that appeared like phishing. What is Phishing?

Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. This is similar to Fishing, where the fisherman puts a bait at the hook, thus, pretending to be a genuine food for fish. But the hook inside it takes the complete fish out of the lake. Communications purporting to be from popular social web sites, auction sites, online payment processors or IT administrators are commonly used to lure the unsuspecting public.

Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one. Phishing is an example of social engineering techniques used to deceive users, and exploits the poor usability of current web security technologies. Attempts to deal with the growing number of reported phishing incidents include legislation, user training, public awareness, and technical security measures.

1. First Letter:

Dear User,

Your UnionBank online account security is inactive,

but first you have to confirm your registration.
Click here to confirm your registration!

Privacy Department.
UnionBank of the Philippines

2. Second Letter

Dear Email Bearer;

We are upgrading our Email system to enable us reduce the occurrence of spam . You are to click on the Link below to Upgrade your Email.

Louis J Kern
Web Administrator

Note: Once you click on the link above, they will have information on your e-mail account. Last month I also received notification that my e-mail account is full and needed to be upgraded. When I looked at my e-mail usage, It shows only about 5% of the space allotted to me by my server. I know it was a phishing letter. I deleted it so I can not print it for your information verbatim. Anyway beware of phishers.

An email from Union Bank warning me about Phishing.

Dear Union Bank Client,

As an Internet user, you should know about phishing emails. They can appear to be from a well-known company but may put you at risk.

A phishing email generally asks you to click a link in the email and provide, update or confirm sensitive personal information. It may refer to a supposedly urgent or threatening condition concerning your account.

Please note that UnionBank will never send you an email asking for your personal information. You should NOT respond to such email or reveal your PIN or PASSWORD to anyone. Also, Do NOT visit the phishing site, as it is likely to contain a virus or otherwise compromise your confidential information.

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