spam

Huh.

Blog

Not very effective, I would say.

Close, but not quite

Blog

Last night, at SuperHappyDevHouse at Hacker Dojo, I received an email through my contact page (hey, you, too, should contact me, send me a note):

Now, I've been backing a number of Kickstarter projects, yes. I have even received a number of emails sent directly to me from Kickstarter projects, asking me to consider their projects. The first time this happened, I thought, wow, that was smart, I'll reward that smart by backing his project. The second time it happened, I realized what was happening and thought, uh oh, crap, this is like the non-profits that spam the crap out of the people who donate to them, begging for more money.

I didn't support the second project which contacted me. I probably won't support any subsequent ones, either, unless I would have normally supported it.

So, last night's message wasn't surprising to me. While Domino is an odd name to be from Sweden, I could believe that. I have backed over 40 projects, so yeah, he knew to check Kickstarter, and had the numbers correct, so there was a person behind the email. There is something odd about people who back multiple projects, and curiosity was getting the better of me about why other people back more than one project (though, really, I'd love to see the distribution of backers to projects and how it changes over time, if you can see that "oooooooo! this is fun!" moment when Kickstarter becomes addictive to some (read: me)), and thought, hey, I could ask Domino as many questions as he asks me, but after his interview.

This could be cool.

Yet, there's always a hesitation, as there will be for anyone who knows just how fragile systems can be. When he asked me to contact him via Skype, alarms started going off in my head.

Why?

From PCMag http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385044,00.asp:

The Skype client for Apple Mac computers has a zero-day vulnerability that allows an attacker to gain remote control of a victim's Mac, according to a security researcher.

Skype was alerted to the vulnerability about a month ago but has yet to issue a fix, Gordon Maddern reported Friday on the Pure Hacking blog.

...

After accidently [sic] discovering the vulnerability in a Skype chat with a colleague, Maddern said he successfully tested the "extremely wormable and dangerous" exploit on more Macs but found that Skype's Windows and Linux clients were not affected.

The security researcher then used penetration testing tools and was able to remotely take over a Mac through the Skype vulnerability, he said.

...

Skype Limited, the developer of the VoIP software, is based in Luxembourg. The company was founded in 2003 and released the first public beta version of Skype that same year. Skype accounted for 13 percent of all international call minutes in 2010, according to TeleGeography Research.

Riiiiiiiight.

And this?

The email address did not match one normally found in Sweden, but, yeah, you know, people move, right?

Yeah.

No.

The odd catch is that the contact form was submitted using an IP address from Sweden. Lends some credibility, though.

Domino, if you really are who you say you are, contact me via Kickstarter or send me a valid email address.

The Skype thing? Not going to happen.

One or more may be a moron

Blog

A while ago, I received a letter. Although it was technically addressed to me, it wasn't addressed to a name I use frequently, much less often. When I opened it, I was told that

AS SEEN ON OPRAH & 20/20

I could

MAKE $250,000 IN WEEKS!!

Yeah, those two exclamation points? Included for free.

The letter was three pages, detailing how, for $199 or less, I could send junk mail to 200 people and through some level of ROAR, 7.5% of them would send $1 to each of the six names on a list in the mail. Those 15 then do the same thing and send out 200 letters, hopefully with a 7.5% return rate. Do the numbers and you'll receive $813,000 IN WEEKS.

Right.

How kind that the letter includes an advertisement for where you can get a list of 500 names for only $75! What a deal. Fortunately, that goes in reverse, and now that I know my name and address is in their database, I can get it out. But that's an aside.

What isn't an aside is the fact that the NAMES and ADDRESSES (and some lack of intelligence and abundance of laziness) of these six people are in the letter; anyone with an interesting enough name on the list is findable. Anyone with an internet connection and browser and FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE.

So, let's check out these people, shall we?



Hello, Makesha Cummins. You may be a moron. Googling for your name, we find your facebook page and discover you like Usher, you're 36 years old, looking for work as an au pair, might be overweight, and that you fell for the acai berry scam, too. How'd the ponzi scheme work out for you, Makesha? Recall, you let me know that you live at 4650 Jenson Lane, Colorado Springs, CO 80922.

Hello, Duane Carlyle of 1709 Southdale Drive, Mattoon IL 61938. You have a more common name, making finding you more difficult, but you are 59. Please say hello to Janice for me. I see that you live in the boonies.

Linda Thompson of 312 Carolina Nooseneck Road, Richmond RI 02898, I am really assuming you are not the singer, actress, attorney with Bill Clinton conspiracy theories, or the mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Wow, that would be most unfortunate if the mayor sent me a ponzi scheme letter. Think of the scandal with that one! Ah, well, shit, you ARE the "business coach and mentor [who] assists serious entrepreneurs in building a profitable online business with multiple incomes streams." Do ponzi schemes and potential mail fraud count as multiple income streams? Oh, and here's your phone number 401-539-2962 and your email ThompsonBrennan.Linda8@gmail.com.

Nelson Blanco of 8265 Old Forge Road, Southaven, MS 38671, you manage to hide among the other Nelson Blancos, much more readily than Linda does, actually. However, it's clear that you've earned 2 stars on your goal to "We don't want a job. We just want to be a help and to build a great organization of distributors," meaning you don't actually produce anything, you just moosh things around.

Virgil, Virgil, Virgil. I would have guessed a name like yours would have been SO easy to find. Turns out, "Virgil Porter"s have been around since at least the mid 1800s. Wow. However, with your address of 6051 61st Ave SE Lavey WA 98513, you gave a little more information than you probably intended. Was the spelling of "Lavey" when you live in "Lacey" intentional? Or is that how you track junk mailers? You have three cars, eh? Is that one under a blue tarp on blocks? Do you go running along Thornbury at all? Of course, with a name like Virgil F. Porter Jr, your bowling prowess will not go unnoticed (nice scores of 114,178,182, you'd beat me two of three times). Way to go with that Governor's Award in 2002.

Gina Crenshaw, your address being 5656 S US Hwy 421, Kirklin IN 46050 (here, here's the link to your place, you're really close to the Assembly of God, I note), you almost managed to sneek through, despite the not-so-common name. However, almost is not the same as not-findable, and you're a 42 year old finance executive. Does that mean you work at a bank? OH WAIT! YOU USED A SCHOOL ADDRESS FOR YOUR PONZI SCHEME. What the hell are you thinking? Are you REALLY that clueless?

So, all of you sent your address to a complete stranger. Or, you're all surprised at the dollar bills being sent to you, I guess.

In really, 30 minutes of searching online, without spending any money, and I have enough info to mock you. Why would you willingly do that?

I can't help but wonder if these chain letters are really just marketing materials from the data warehouses as an alternative revenue stream. Why sell to hundreds of businesses when you can sell to thousands of consumers?

This is spam

Blog

I received an email from an acquaintance of mine. He's one of the first organizers of Bewaro-the-Sombrero, an ultimate (frisbee) hat tournament held at the end of each year for the last 10+ years, usually somewhere close to or in San Mateo. Dave is the person who taught me the term "sucky suck," which I have used for the last 10+ years, and taught my mom to use, too.

I'm including it here because at first, I couldn't be 100% sure the email wasn't a spam email. Dave COULD have been in Africa. He COULD have lost his passport. He COULD need money. The email was sent to an address that I had given to ONLY Dave, so I couldn't be 100% sure the email was spam. The language is weird, though.

I couldn't be 100%, but I could be 97% sure the email was spam. I became 100% sure when I googled for "empowering youth to fight racism" in quotes, and found another email (but only one, oddly enough) posted that had the exact same wording.

So that the next person who googles won't have the same problem I did, here's the email. I'm speculating it's being sent by a virus that sits on the user's computer and looks at old emails, the to: and from:, maybe from gmail? and spams based on previous email headers. Though, other than affecting spam filters, I'm not sure what this message is supposed to accomplish.

The email reads:

Date:   	Wed, 8 Oct 2008 15:20:22 +0100
From:  	 	David W-------------
Subject:  	Please Respond Urgently (I Need Your Help)

How are you doing today?
  I am sorry I didn't inform you about my traveling to Africa for a program
called "Empowering Youths to Fight Racism, HIV/AIDS and Poverty. The
program is taking place in three major countries in Africa which are Ghana,
South Africa and Nigeria . It has been a very sad and bad moment for me, the
present condition I find myself in is very hard for me to explain.
    I am really stranded in Nigeria cos I forgot my little bag  where my money,
passport, documents and other valuable things are kept in the Taxi on my way to
the Hotel where i am lodged, I am facing a hard time here because I have no
money on me. I am now owing a hotel bill of $1,500 and they want me to pay the
bill else they will have to seize my other bag and hand me over to the Hotel
Management., I need this help from you urgently to help me back home, I need you
to help me with the hotel bill and i will also need $1000 to feed and
help myself
back home so please can you help me with a sum of $2500 to sort out my problems
here? I need this help so much and on time because i am in a terrible and tight
situation here.
     I am sending you this e-mail from the hotel's cafe and I only have 10
min to do so, I will appreciate what so ever you can afford to send me for now
and I promise to pay back your money as soon as i return home so please let me
know on time so that i can forward you the details you need to transfer the
money through Money Gram or Western Union.

My Regards
David.W--------- 

I find you interesting

Blog

As I was checking my email this morning, I noticed this email come through:

Now, I don't know any Nathan Montgomery, and I haven't been any place recently where I would have met someone new, say at a conference or meet-up or networking or developer event, and forgotten that I had met this said Nathan. Although meeting new people is fun, I'm 100% sure this wasn't a new person I met.

I recognize the purpose of spam subject lines is to lure the recipient into opening the email. Given that I read my email in a mail reader that is beyond old, I'm not particularly worried about accidently unleashing a virus onto my system, so the fact that the message is clearly a spam message with that subject line doesn't bother me.

However, there's that bit of flattery in that subject line that just begs that message to be opened.

"I find you interesting."

Could there possibly be a better pickup line? To have someone find me interesting has to be one of the most flattering compliments I think I could receive.

I think I'll leave that email a mystery, unopened.

You know...

Blog

If you're going to send me spam, for the love of your god, at least make it somewhat believable.

Saddest day of ever

Blog

Today is the saddest day of ever.

Today is the first day I have received an unsolicited commercial spam email to my main email address. I use throw away email addresses for my commercial dealings, meaning I know when some company has a virus on their systems or has sold my email address. It's not hard to figure out when the address kittsprint shows up on electronic goods emails that Sprint sold my address, or when kittameritrade shows up in a spam email that Ameritrade has a virus on their systems.

This second one actually happened, with kittameritrade being my second email address I used with Ameritrade. The first time I reported the virus on their systems, they insisted the problem wasn't within their systems, it was within mine. I asked them to switch email addresses, and four months later the new email address was getting financial spam to it.

After getting the run around from Ameritrade again with the virus in their systems, I reported their breach of privacy policy and leak of personal information to the SEC. Now THAT got Ameritrade moving.

I couldn't help but think, "You know, people, not everyone uses Microsoft products, and that's a good thing. Homogeny is a cracker's dream, especially when all of the products are flawed."

I have to admit, my run lasted a long, long time. I've used my personal email address for about eight years without spam to it, and without any email spam filters on it. In this day and age, that's pretty good.

I guess it's time to switch to one of the other five top level domains I have for my last name. Since hodsden.org is being spammed, how does hodsden.com sound?

We cure any desease!

Blog

Today I received an email with the subject:

    Subject: We cure any desease!

My first thought when I saw the subject was, "Huh. Except stupidity."

Pages