"419"

The growth of Jamaican phone-scamming caused a crime-wave and martial law in Montego Bay

In the late 2000s, Jamaican authorities launched a crackdown on drug dealers, extraditing the country's most notorious crime-bosses to the USA; the power-vacuum was filled by telephone advance-fee fraud (419/Spanish Prisoner/etc) scammers who targeted American victims, bringing an estimated $300,000,000 to Montego Bay and its region, the epicenter of the scam. Read the rest

Prankster sends a 419 scammer into a NSFW rage

Kvatch of The Hoax Hotel is masterful at playing rubes who fall for online scams. In this gem, he keeps an "FBI agent" named "Josh" on the line for nearly 22 minutes, riling him up until he's "the angriest scammer I've ever called." Read the rest

San Francisco's 58-story "leaning tower" is sinking fast

San Francisco's 419-apartment, 58-story luxury Millennium Tower has been sinking since at it opened in 2009, and now it's begun to lean alarmingly. Read the rest

Researchers learn about wire-fraud scam after Nigerian scammers infect themselves with their own malware

In Wire Wire: A West African Cyber Threat, researchers from Secureworks reveal their findings from monitoring a Nigerian bank-fraud ring whose members had unwittingly infected themselves with their own malware, which captured their keystrokes and files and uploaded them to a file-server from which the researchers were able to monitor their activities and methodologies. Read the rest

How a romance-scam victim laundered $1.1M worth of other victims' money

Audrey Elaine Elrod was divorced, depressed and broke when a romance-scammer targeted her on Facebook, posing as a widowed Scottish oil-rig worker who admired her photo and sympathized with her plight. Read the rest

Best sippy cups for toddlers

There’s no end to the amount you can spend on gadgetry for child-rearing, and yet I’ve been amazed at the poor design and shoddy construction that seems to dominate even the high-end of the parental gear spectrum. Read the rest

Calling out the doctors who abetted CIA torture

Dr Atul Gawande (whose Reith lecture on systems thinking I featured last week) took to Twitter to express his shock and disgust at the medical professionals who participated in the crimes documented in the CIA torture report. Read the rest

Gangs run mass-scale romance cons with phished dating-site logins

Netcraft reports on a rising tide of automated phishing deployed against online dating sites; crooks steal accounts, strike up romantic relationships with their victims, then run 419-style cons on them. Using dating sites as part of a con isn't new, but using stolen accounts to do it is, especially at scale. The phishing kits are easy to deploy and are used to capture credentials for dating sites including match.com, Christian Mingle, POF (PlentyOfFish), eHarmony, Chemistry.com, SeniorPeopleMeet, Zoosk and Lavalife. Interestingly, the phishing kits found in the wild now disproportionately seek logins for dating sites, as compared to banking sites and other traditional fraud targets.

Criminals launch mass phishing attacks against online dating sites [Paul Mutton/Netcraft]

(via /.)

(Image: ...And Then Sometimes Valentine's Day Sucks!, Jackie, CC-BY) Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Pharma companies lied to doctors about meds; Paulson's 419 letter; JetBlue won't help spy on customers -- maybe

One year ago today Pharmaceutical companies deliberately mislead doctors into prescribing useless and even harmful meds: Thanks to aggressive manipulation from the pharmaceutical companies and passivity from regulators, doctors often don't know that the drugs were ineffective (or harmful) in a majority of their clinical trials. That's because pharma companies set up their trials so that they the right to terminate ones that look unpromising (or stop them early if they look promising and report on the result partway through as though it reflected the whole trial), and to simply suppress the results of negative trials.

Five years ago today Hank Paulson's bailout 419 letter: I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

Ten years ago today JetBlue won't help out with CAPPS II -- anymore. Unless they have to: JetBlue, having been caught lying about its voluntary involvement with the testbed programs for CAPPS II (turning over 1,000,000+ customers' personal data over to a defense contractor in violation of its privacy policy), has had enough of playing ball with the unpatriotic feds who think the Constitution is less important than "fighting terrorists." Read the rest

Keylogger service provides peek inside Nigerian 419 scammers' tactics

Security researcher Brian Krebs has had a look at the contents of "BestRecovery" (now called "PrivateRecovery") a service used by Nigerian 419 scammers to store the keystrokes of victims who have been infected with keyloggers. It appears that many of the scammers -- known locally as "Yahoo Boys" -- also plant keyloggers on each other, and Krebs has been able to get a look at the internal workings of these con artists. He's assembled a slideshow of the scammers' Facebook profiles and other information. Read the rest

Ordered list of credible fictions

I love Bruce Sterling's "Design Fiction Slider-Bar of Disbelief," a list of fictions in ascending order of credibility:

9.4 New age crystals, lucky charms, protective pendants, mojo hands, voodoo dolls, magic wands

9.3 Quack devices, medical hoaxes

9.3 Fantasy “objects” in fantasy cinema and computer-games

9.2 Physically impossible sci-fi literary devices: time machines, humanoid robots

9.2 Perpetual motion machines; free-energy gizmos, other physically impossible engineering fantasies

9.0 State libels, black propaganda, military ruses; missile gaps, vengeance weapons, Star Wars SDI

8.9 “Realplay” services, “experiential futurism” encounters, military and emergency training drills, props and immersive set-design, scripted personas

8.8 Online roleplaying scenario games

8.7 Net.art interventions, diegetic performance art, provocative device-art scandals

8.6 Guerrilla street-theater; costumes, puppets, banners, songs, lynchings-in-effigy, mock trials, mass set-designed Nuremberg rallies, propaganda trains

8.5 Fake products, product forgeries, theft-of-services, con-schemes, 419 frauds

Spoiler alert: the list ends with these:

1.0 Engineering specifications, software code

0.5 Historical tech assessment of extinct technologies, the “judgement of history’

0.0 The ideal and unobtainable “objective truth” about objects and services

Design Fiction: The Design Fiction Slider-Bar of Disbelief Read the rest

Desperate banks fall for the 419 advance-fee fraud

The FDIC has issues a special alert warning that America's debt-haunted, cash-strapped banks are falling prey to conmen working the advance fee fraud, the same scam used in the familiar "Nigerian prince" or "419" scam. The banks fork over big bucks to supposed high-flying investors who are supposed to come through with large sums in return, but who vanish into the ether instead.

The FDIC has become aware of multiple instances in which individuals or purported investment advisors have approached financially weak institutions in apparent attempts to defraud the institutions by claiming to have access to funds for recapitalization. These parties also may claim that the investors, or individuals associated with the investors, include prominent public figures and that the investors have been approved by one or more of the federal banking agencies to invest substantial capital in the targeted institutions. Ultimately, these parties have required the targeted institutions to pay, in advance, retention and due diligence fees, as well as other costs. Once paid, the parties have failed to conduct substantive due diligence or to actively pursue the proposed investment.

Banks Desperate For Funds Victimized By Con Men

(via CSM) Read the rest

419/FBI poetry: "Issues of fraud crime against you"

My friend Vann Hall received the following email from the FBI. Apparently, they caught him through their, er, track light monitoring device. Vann, I hope you can clear this up quickly!

respectively, pesco

-------- Original Message -------- Subject: ISSUES OF FRAUD CRIME AGAINST YOU Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 08:25:36 +0200 From: Mr Ronald Anthony (info@fbi.com) Reply-To: (fbi-office@foxmail.com) To: undisclosed-recipients:;

THIS IS THE (F.B.I) http://www.fbi.gov

FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Federal Bureau of Investigation J. Edgar Hoover Building 935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20535-0001

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI)

Attention

This the Federal Bureau Of Investigation (FBI) We are writing in response to our track light monitoring device which we received today in our office about the illegal transactions that you have been involve in for a long time now.

We understand from our general investigations that some con men from Australia has been ripping a man off him hard earned money with the pretense of dealing with birds Company that will deliver a pet to him and the proposed amount which was to be transferred to you is the sum of $5,000,000 Usd as stated in our record here.

We also got a complain from our Australia man counterpart stating that your identity/information's was used to dupe a Australia business man to the tune of $4 Billion Usd by some Australia Fraudsters which you have been in contact with for some time now.

The German Government has ordered for your urgent arrest regarding the crimes that was committed with your name,after all the series of investigations conducted here in our office we tracked your record and we found out that you have never been jailed or had any fraudulent case that may jeopardize your image and personality.

Read the rest

Iranian mullah-narco terror plot to kill Saudi ambassador with cartel hitman and Mexico-laundered cash is so obviously ripped from Breaking Bad

(Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir speaks to the media at the Mideast Peace Conference in Annapolis, November 27, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed)

This alleged Iranian terror plot the FBI reported today is really quite something. It reads like any one of the 419 scams in my spam folder meets an episode of 24 or Breaking Bad meets yellowcake and the run-up to the Iraq war. Is this real life, or some Bay of Pigs pre-election-year hallucination?

The FBI's own synopsis is here. Snip:

The criminal complaint alleges that, from the spring of 2011 to October 2011, Arbabsiar and his Iran-based co-conspirators, including Shakuri of the Qods Force, have been plotting the murder of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. In furtherance of this conspiracy, Arbabsiar allegedly met on a number of occasions in Mexico with a DEA confidential source (CS-1) who has posed as an associate of a violent international drug trafficking cartel. According to the complaint, Arbabsiar arranged to hire CS-1 and CS-1’s purported accomplices to murder the Ambassador, and Shakuri and other Iran-based co-conspirators were aware of and approved the plan. With Shakuri’s approval, Arbabsiar has allegedly caused approximately $100,000 to be wired into a bank account in the United States as a down payment to CS-1 for the anticipated killing of the Ambassador, which was to take place in the United States.

The hell? Read the rest

Daily Show: Sarah Palin pulled "Nigerian prince" scam on donors

Jon Stewart looks at Sarah Palin's fundraising tour across America through which she solicited donations from people who might support her presidential bid, all the while coyly refusing to say whether she was intending to run. Subsequently, it became clear that Palin continued to solicit money long after she'd decided not to run -- Stewart compares this to a "Nigerian Prince" 419 scam. Read the rest

BuyEmails.org: Indian site services Internet scam artists

Brian Krebs has a good investigative piece on BuyEmails.org, an India-based website servicing Nigerian fraudsters and other Internet scam artists. They offer curiously targetted email lists ("6 million prospective work-at-home USA residents for just $99"), untraceable bulk email, and direct payment schemes from Nigerian banks, and (hilariously) they don't accept credit cards or Paypal because of all the fraud they've suffered. They also hold US patents on sending spam, but they lost one the first time they tried to use it against a competitor in a US court (the judge said that "sending and re-sending of spam until all of the mail is delivered" was "obvious"). The parent company of BuyEmails.org is Perfect Web Technologies Inc.

The site sells dozens of country-specific email lists. Other lists are for oddly specific groups. For example, you can buy a list of one million insurance agent emails for $250. 300 beans will let you reach 1.5 million farmers; $400 closes on 4 million real estate agents. Need to recruit a whole mess of money mules right away? No problem: You can buy the email addresses of 6 million prospective work-at-home USA residents for just $99. A list of 1,041,977 USA Seniors (45-70 years old) is selling for $325.

If you don't care much about who gets your emails, or if you want to target recipients based on their email provider, the price per address goes way down. Consider these offerings:

50 million AOL addresses: $500

30 million Hotmail addresses: $450

30 million Yahoo addresses: $400

5 million Gmail addresses: $350

Where Did That Scammer Get Your Email Address? Read the rest

Fraudsters break all records in Japan relief ripoffs

Fraudster scumbags have beaten all records in setting up fake Japan relief pages, fielding more than 1.7 million malware pages, 419 scams trading on the Japanese disasters, 50+ fake domains with "Japan tsunami" or "Japan earthquake" in their URLs. MacWorld recommends donating via the Red Cross, or other established charities that you're familiar with.

Monday, Trend Micro reported on one phishing site that included "japan" in its URL, saying that the site was harvesting email addresses and other personal information from unsuspecting users.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a joint effort by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, issued an alert last Friday that warned consumers to be wary of responding to donation requests following a disaster like Japan's.

Fake anti-virus vendors have also gotten in on the action, according to the SAN Institute's Internet Storm Center (ISC). Makers of the bogus security software stay atop breaking news by automatically poisoning search engine results with links to their wares.

The ISC came up with a tally of 1.7 million poisoned pages that tout the earthquake and tsunami, a number beyond even Google's ability to rapidly delete.

Fraudsters prey on Japan earthquake charity donations Read the rest

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