A Sunday magazine

Today I'm going to go through a lot of stuff. Consider this the Sunday magazine (or Saturday depending on your location), one issue with enough material to read all week long.

First of all, I want to thank Software and Music Downloads Blog who mentioned this blog last week. The post wasn't exactly about hacking but he liked it and that's what matters.

On the dark side, I'm not reporting scammers' mail addresses to Yahoo anymore. I've noted that they're not answering nor closing the accounts. So it's a waste of time. I don't blame them, this is not a complaint. They own the server, they offer the service for free, they're entitled to apply any policy they want. Besides, Yahoo was the only one of the mayor players closing the scammers' accounts. Hotmail, Gmail seems to require CSI grade evidence to do something against them. Yet, again, I respect their decisions.

However, I think that they could be a little more concern about the problem. They're proffiting from the Internet and this kind of stuff is hurting their marketplace. And there are numbers of affordable solutions to the problem. To start with they can establish a method for questionable accounts. Once they're found to be questionable by observation or report, they can block access to the user and offer a form at login time where he can answer to the claims and provide evidence if needed. If the answer is satisfactory, the user can recover access to the account. But I know that the form would be unnecessary, scammer never complain about blocked accounts, they move to another one. If Yahoo close all the accounts of Mariam Abachas, Charles Soludos, barristers, banks of Nigeria, banks HSBC, banks of any kind, etc. nobody is going to claim them. Yahoo could recover hundreds of thousands of accounts plus all the related disk space. Eventually, one account would be closed that belongs to a decent user. But it wouldn't be so hard to confirm and reinstate.

On the other hand, minor players are more concern. I understand that it could be because their resources are more limited and the missuse of the service hurts them more economically. But the truth is that mot of them go beyond closing of the account. This is a typical answer to an abuse report from Outblaze:

The account you reported is now terminated, along with
today's quota of sundry other Nigerian generals, bankers,
engineers, attorneys and relatives of dead dictators.
They acknowledge the problem (with some humour I may add) instead of giving a crappy corporative legal "violation of TOS" answer.
This is another one worth mentioning related to a phishing page hosted at 2ya.com. Check the phishing site. The site is gone and that's what most big hosters are doing, closing the site. But 2ya.com keeps the site open with a warning in case someone falls for the phishing message. The good thing is that if you fall for it and the page fails, you may fall for the next one. But if you fall for it and you see the warning, you won't fall ever again. And that's the real thing, education, spread the knowledge. Because the only way to protect yourself is to be aware, to have the knowledge.

And that's the idea of this blog. So let's move on to some educational stuff and some fun stuff too.

Here's a video from the BBCabout the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) raiding a cyber cafe in Lagos, Nigeria. At some point, there's this dialog between the journalist and an EFCC agent

-Do people fall for this?
-If they don't we wouldn't be here, would we?
This is a key fact of this problem. People do fall for scams. For most of us is obvious that the offers are not real, it's hard to believe that someone could fall for it. But they do and that's why scammers keep doing it.

Here's another report, part 1 and part 2. Brian Ross from 20/20 was also invited to a raid by the EFCC plus he played the part of a victim and followed the trail to the scammer all the way to Lagos. Pay attention to this bit:

One of the first people to be arrested by the EFCC's squad was its boss, the head of the Nigerian police, who was sent to prison for taking bribes from top 419 scammers.
You may have noticed that he mentions a music video, you can find it in YouTube. It's a very popular one in Nigeria performed by Osuofia, a nigerian comedian. The name of the song is "I chop your dollar" meaning "I'm going to get your money". It's about a scammer telling his mark how (and why) is he going to fool him. Here's the original lyrics:

I don suffer no be small
Upon say I get sense
Poverty no good at all, no
Na im make I join this business
419 no be thief, its just a game
Everybody dey play am
if anybody fall mugu, ha! my brother I go chop am

National Airport na me get am
National Stadium na me build am
President na my sister brother
You be the mugu, I be the master
Oyinbo I go chop your dollar, I go take your money dissapear
Video Clip from: Osuofia - I Go Chop Your Dollar - A clip from the video. 419 is just a game, you are the loser I am the winner
The refinery na me get am,
The contract, na you I go give am
But you go pay me small money make I bring am
you be the mugu, I be the master… na me be the master ooo!!!!

When Oyinbo play wayo, them go say na new style
When country man do im own, them go de shout bring am, kill am, die!
Oyinbo people greedy, I say them greedy
I don see them tire thats why when them fall enter my trap o!
I dey show them fire
And here, the english version (translated by Azuka Nzegwu and Adeolu Ademoyo)

I am suffering greatly
and I get this idea (or wise)
poverty is not good at all
and I decide to join this business (scam)

419 is not a criminal act but a game
Everybody will play
but if you are fool
I will chop your money


I own the National Airport
I built the National Stadium
The president is my sister's brother
You are the fool and I am the master

White man, I will eat your dollar
I will take your money and disappear
419 is just a game, you are the loser and I am the winner

I own the refinery
I will give you the contract
But you will have to pay me a small fee before I bring them
You are the fool, I am the master
I am the master!!!!

When whites scam
it is said that it is a new style
But when the country man does the same
White people shout: bring them, kill them, die!

White people are greedy, I say they are greedy
I have seen through them deeply (or very well)
So, when they fall into my trap
I will show them fire (or showing someone who is the real boss by treating them harshly)
Here's another Brian Ross' report. This time he exposes a "wash-wash", a scam where you get your money painted in black and are sold the chemicals to clean it up. Listen carefully, the victims says that he's lost approximately 340,000 us$. And he's not just a grammar school droupout with money. He's a highly educated person, a heart surgeon.

And one more report. Here's Keith Olbermann exposing another one where scammers impersonate the head of the FBI.

Now let's move on to the fun. The music video was posted by one of the top scambaiters. If you want to know him and know what a scambaiter is, here's the Fox's interview to Butch Driveshaft. You can find more about him and his group at The Scambaiter (registration required). Be aware that Butch is extremely loud and use abusive language. Here's a bit someone made with a compilation of Butch's phone calls and photo trophies and a brief of the Cole bait, a bait where Butch keeps sending trash to Cole and Cole keeps paying for delivery. Again, be aware that Butch is no suitable for a young audience. The great thing about Butch is that he punishes the scammers where it really hurt, their wallets. He also makes them do stupid things for fun but taking their money has a long term effect on the scammers. They will think twice everytime they're on a scam. They'll doubt every victim, they'll be afraid of falling again. Every second wasted, every phone call, every cheque sent, every dollar spent on a scambaiter won't hurt a real victim.

Another top scambaiter is Shiver Metimbers. You can read about him and his group's baits in 419 Eater (registration required for the forums). And here's a video of a scammer waiting for him to show up to get £18,000. I guess you figured it out by yourself, but just in case, he didn't showed up. This one went back home empty handed and really bored. Others had some fun while being abused by scambaiters. The next videos show what are the scammers willing to do in order to get some money. Just in case you don't figure it out by yourself, they never get it. I think that most of this videos (if not all) are from 419 Eater's members.

A scambaiter named Bombardier offers his "pet" (the scammer) an opportunity to be a stunt man and make big money.

Here, Stargatebaiter's "pet" Richard auditions for a role in Stargate. And then he does it again. And again. Though I think that the last one is for another role...

Here, a scammer performs a ceremony to become a "twat" for Tainenterprises.

Another audition, this time Monty Python's dead parrot sketch.

And it goes on and on and on.

I want to make a final comment. At some point during the Brian Ross' report, he said that no matter how many scammers the police arrest, no matter how many scammers 20/20 exposes, there's always another hungry one ready to take his place. It's not the literal quote but that was the meaning. He also mentioned that the average income in Lagos is 1 us$ per WEEK. In a way, he created the idea (or at least it looked to me) that this is a problem created by poverty, that they do it to survive. And I have to totally disagree with him. Those running the scams are not hungry. They may be poor by our standards but they're not struggling to survive. I'm sure that there's poverty in Nigeria but those who are in real need are scrounging for their next meal, not scamming from a cyber cafe. They don't have access to such luxury, they don't have the education required to use a computer, let alone a keyboard. If you see carefully, the scammers on the videos are well fed, no signs of starvation. The wannabe stunt man is wearing expensive running shoes, he has a house in a residential neighborhood, he has a car (I hope is his car, otherwise his neighbor is going to get really pissed). They're not doing scams because they don't have another choice, they're doing it because it's easy money. And they don't care who they scam, they don't care who they hurt, they don't care about the consequences their acts can have on their victims' life. I'm with Butch, I don't feel sorry for them.

And, to finish this post on a more lighter mood, here's a video from Ze Frank performing a 419 letter. This is the YouTube link, I couldn't find the link to the original video. If you want to see more of him (totally worth it) visit his web page, Ze Frank - The show.

This post may come as a surprise to you...


Jessie said...

Interesting post and helpful blog!

Anonymous said...

Oooh- I got the following email- obviously a scammer... Note the use of Western Union and Overdraft:

(sender's email address: bertsil2000@yahoo.ca )
Hi, I'm James Mccoy ,I just viewed your profile on Ujenatalent I love your work and style,really you are a beautifull,sexy and good looking model,I would love to have a face shot portrate of you in my living room,so im offering to pay you $1,000 for a face picture of you,I do admire your looks and want to have a big size face oil paint frame of you in my livning room for fun ,i do intent to forward your pic after its purchase to a prof oil painter to make i big oil painting frame out of it which i would hang in my living as 1 of your major fans.So if you are interested in selling your pic to me then send me your details below and i will mail you a check as soon as i get your details required below

Name on check :
Mailing address :
cell number :

I will mail an overdraft check of $3500 to you, to cash at your bank,deduct $1000 for the pic and disburse the balance to the oil painters information i will provide you via western union money transfer.
Get back to me with this informations and we can proceed.
From james your number 1 fan Cheers

Mccoy Graphic designs inc..

Anonymous said...

I remember the times when aol blocked my account because in some chat room my teenage son wrote 'mofo'. It was unacceptable at the time, I guess. Now they take anything and everything. Things change!
Also, in the past few months, I recieved several emails supposedly from CitiBank. I reported it to the institution and they thanked me, but don't know if they did anything about it. I don't have an account with them, that's why it raised a warning flag. But if you do, be careful when they want you to click on some suspicious link to update your info.
Good luck, everyone, keep your eyes open and your common sense active!

Lori said...

It's amazing to me that people still fall for that Bank of Nigeria-type scam. I still get emails like that all the time even though I have never fallen for it. I do wish yahoo and company would do more about it. Yahoo will not let some of my posts to Yahoo groups that I am on go through if a legitimate link is in the email, but then this other kind of crap is apparently no problem to them. Yeah, I understand that it's a free service and they have the right to do what they want, but still.