‘Fraud Alert’ Category

Switched: How to Spot an Email Scam

December 2nd, 2009

Switched has a great list of “10 Ways to Spot an Email Scam.” Scammers — hell, let’s call them what they are, crooks — use certain techniques over and over again, hoping in your busy day, clicking through emails, you will let your guard down and click something you shouldn’t. One of us had this happen to him: he received a scam email pretending to be from Paypal, asking to verify his password. He knows better, but in that instant, he clicked and typed in his password — too late — the crooks now had his password. This scam is the first on Switched’s list.

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Josh AKA Scott, Kevin, David, and Others — Investigation Summary

April 11th, 2009

Since we first reported on “Josh” aka Scott, David, Kevin…  even Joan, we have continued to receive inquiries about our “investigation.” We reported on these scam sites over a period of several posts. To help those of you looking for information, we decided to post this summary, of everything we know so far.

We initially learned about these sites right after April Fool’s Day, when we noticed a URL, joshmadecash.com, getting an enormous amount of traffic, right up there with the major news of the day. Then we noticed the site was alternating its URL, with multiple domains, i.e., scottsmoneyblog, scottslifeblog, kevinmakesgreen, etc, etc. We saw that it had been ranked the #5 most-visited site by Alexa.  At first we saw it “melt” — falling down the charts. But then it came back, again and again, sometimes as Josh, sometimes as Scott or David or others. Each one was pitching  the idea that you could make $5,000/month from Google links, some sort of Adsense nonsense, we figured. We started noticing some sloppy things on each site: Each of the “guys” had a picture of the same Google “check” on their site, dated October 25 for $5,000. Some of them had the same black Range Rover parked in the same driveway. Scam alert indeed.

A reader notified us of some other research that had been done on this scam. Wallet Pop noted that the routing number on the check pictured was fake. They also reported the sites were using MaxMind software that scopes out where you are located and then sends you a version of “Josh” where he lives near you, to create a neighborly feel. While we just found Josh and a few others, there has reportedly been many, many more.

Each site offers what they’re selling for a small shipping fee, average $1-2. This is apparently simply their way to get your contact and credit information. Waffles at Noon noted that customers who had been signing up on sites like this were finding $100 charges added to their card shortly afterwards (after they had “neglected” to click on a “cancel option” supposedly somewhere these sites). See our post about this research here.

Earlier this week, while we were right in the middle of investigating all of this, our site crashed in a manner that suggested a hacker. We assume, without proof yet, that there may be a connection.

Anyway, clearly we think you should stay away from these guys — or guy — whoever they are. As we said in our introduction to Rich Dog Millionaire, the internet is like the wild, wild west — there is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our mission statement is to try and report on all of it — looking for the best ways to make money off the internet, and reporting as much as possible on the ugly stuff out there — what doesn’t work. We’re certainly not goody two-shoes. We admit we find some of the “black hat” stuff interesting. Anyway, hope this information helps. If you’d like to read the entire string of posts on the “Josh” subject, you can go here.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Adwiz: He has let us know these “Joshers” have added stephsblog… Also they been doing Yahoo mail ads, which actually one of our friends saw.

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Were We Attacked by “Josh”??

April 9th, 2009

(DISCLAIMER: We have no proof but…)

We cannot be sure — we don’t mean to be paranoid — but we think we might have been attacked. Thursday evening our site went down. It seemed to coincide with an increase in traffic from our commentary on some possible scammers who are currently operating out there  — see our most recent post about them here.  The mission statement of Rich Dog Millionaire has been to focus on making money on the internet — a Forbes magazine meets Wired, so to speak. We decided a while ago that we would not be politically correct — we would review and report on the good stuff, the bad stuff — aka black hat material — and we would tell you about the ugly stuff, the scammers, the assholes. We’ll continue to do it, because it’s the right thing to do, and because it’s fun. So if you never hear from us again…

BTW! We’re back up and running because of our great hosting company Blue Host, which we’ve mentioned before. We were able to call an 800 number, actually SPEAK to someone, and we were back up within a few minutes… We recommend them highly: (Thanks guys) Here’s our shout out:

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Josh and His Buddies “Scott,” “Kevin,” and “David” (UPDATED)

April 8th, 2009

We are getting a lot of inquiries, regarding our posts here and here. Jan Tuv at Wallet Pop has some good additional info on these scammers (or scammer). One thing we learned from her blog is that these sites are using something called MaxMind, “which scopes out where Web users are located. The hometown is sprinkled throughout the site, to force us to identify with Scott and his “story.” That would explain why all the sites we “found” were from California. As we mentioned, the sites are also sloppy suspicious in other ways, ie each site has the same $5,000 check dated October 25. Wallet Pop’s Jan did some further research and found that the checks do not even have legitimate routing numbers. And then there’s that same black Range Rover several of them seem to own, on duplicate driveways.

UPDATE: We received a great comment from “Not Kevin” who recommended the site, Waffles at Noon, for more info on this scam — these scammers have many, many URLs.  The danger here, from what we understand, is that the cheap little $1.00 shipping fee is simply their way of capturing your information, including credit card/banking information. Then they ding you with another charge — like $100 — after you neglect to “cancel” (using a cancel option that is virtually impossible to find on the site, if it’s even there. ). Thanks “Not Kevin” for your great feedback and thanks Waffles at Noon for some great information.

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