Scam Email

The following email is a scam, it looks confusing and encourages readers to click on a link. And there are many links in this email, all pointing to a hacker’s virus infected site.

Below is the email, with personal details and all of the malicious links removed:

Dear …,

Thank you for scheduling your recent credit card payment online. Your ($USD) $117.00 payment will post to your credit card account (CREDIT CARD) on 08/06/2010.

Now that you’re making your payment online, are you aware of all the convenient ways you can manage your account online?

Just log on to today. Using the "I’d like to…" links for your credit card account, you can access more than a dozen features, including links to:
See statements – Choose to stop receiving paper statements, and see up to six years of your statements online.
See automatic payments – Set up monthly payments to be made automatically.
Transfer a balance – Transfer a balance to your credit card account.
Go to Personalized Alerts – Schedule Alerts to remind you of key account activity.
You can also see past payments you’ve made online by logging on to and clicking "See/cancel payments" under "I’d like to …"

If you have questions, please call the Customer Service number on the back of your credit card.

Thanks again for using online payments.

Cardmember Services

Never trust emails like this, especially if you don’t have an account with the company.

A useful trick to spot these scams is:

  • Identify which company the email claims to be from. In this case, it’s a company called Chase.
  • Place your mouse pointer over a link, but don’t click.
  • Look at the bottom of your screen, you should see the real link it points to. (You need to be using a modern web browser for this to work).
  • If the addresses don’t match then it’s likely a scam.

E.g., the email above talks a lot about This is a real company in USA. scam link - do not visit this siteWhen I place my mouse pointer over the link, my browser says it goes somewhere different. The addresses don’t match, this is a scam. See the picture on the right.

Another Scam Job

Emails like this are scams. They are not legitimate jobs and you should not contact the sender – it’s part of a money mule scam.

Some words in this email can change but the general part of it remains the same:

My name is Earnest and our company currently has several positions it needs to fill in your region.
We are a well known company with offices throughout Europe, Asia and North America.
Our current turnover is over 130 million annually and we are still seeking for expansion.
I have 12 vacancies of Financial Assistant that need to be fulfilled immediately.

Major operational duties are prompt receiving and processing customer’s payments for their further transfer according to the specified method. Detailed work scheme will be provided upon request.

I am looking for self-motivated individuals with strong work ethics and ability to schedule work hours effectively.


* Expert skills in managing payments and transfers between our company and clients
* Knowledge of basic payment systems
* Bank account (personal or business)
* Advanced PC and Internet skills
* Minimum 24 y.o.

*Salary plus commissions
*Full reimbursement of banking and Western Union fees.

NOTE: This vacancy is valid for American residents ONLY.

Contacts: <removed>

So if you see an email like this delete it. Don’t fall for the scam.

Fake CUA Email

The following email is a phishing scam. It tries to trick people into handing over some account details. The usual trick for phishing scams is to make the email sound important, and there’s a link in the email to make it easier to get to the scammer’s web site.

The phishing email says:

Dear member:

We have recently updated our Online system to include new layer secure authentication. This is intended to provide you with the best security possible when accessing your account.
You will need to update your account in order to continue using your card.

CUA Update

Your ticket code is L690545X.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience and understanding.
Member ID 690545

The domain name they use is cua-members-australia (.com). After doing some simple research, CUA is a credit union in Australia. Their real address is so the one provided is obviously fake, even though it might sound real. Further research shows that the fake address was registered in USA (even though these details could also be fake).

Below is a screenshot of the phishing scam site:


They get straight to business asking for a card number and a PIN. Very private information that no one should ask you.

Texaco Money Mule Scam

I’ve written about money mule scams before, here’s another one.

When a scammer has a large amount of money to move, such as stolen money they want transferred into their own bank, they don’t do it themselves. That would make them too easy to get caught.

What they sometimes do is ask other people to transfer the money. They tell these other people that it’s a legitimate job, and trick them into making these bank transactions.

They even go so far as to invent a company in order to recruit innocent people, or sometimes borrow the name of a legitimate company.

One such example is a job ad that claims to be from a US company called Texaco. The scammers sent a forged email with a link to a fake website, made to look like the read Texaco.

The scam email says:

Texaco/Chevron Downstream Europe
  1 Westferry Circus Canary Wharf
  London E14 4HA

Dear Job Candidate,

The TEXACO Online Employment System wish to inform you that your posted information onlinehas been carefully and confidentially reviewed by our Recruitment Team Professionals and we have considered under our current vacant opportunities within the Firm to employ you for work in our company.

TEXACO Online Employment System is affiliated to various job recruitment websites and your information was submitted to us by our online agent that submit job candidate resumes for consideration of employment depending on the vacancies we have in any branch of TEXACO Company Worldwide.

As regards to this, you have been automatically granted this employment to work in TEXACO Oil & Gas Field with a monthly salary of Eight Thousand
Five Hundred Pounds (£8,500).

Kindly acknowledge the content of this message by reconfirming your interest in working for us and indicating your area of job interest, ensuring that you
have quoted your vacancy title below or send your CV with a covering letter.

For further details relating to your employment, kindly send an email to
Texaco/Chevron Downstream Europe H/R Recruitment Service Department / http:// / http://

  Paul Matins
  HR Recruitment Manager

This email is a scam. The web site that they give ends with – this is not the real Texaco’s domain name.

So the next time you see a job ad too good to be true, consider if it might be a money mule scam. Does the job ad promise to pay an unusually large rate? Is the work unusually easy? Is the job description vague? Is the web address correct? Did you receive the job ad in an unsolicited email? These are all questions you need to ask yourself.

ATM Card Skimmers

card skimmer ATM card skimmers are still very common. There’s a new web page showing the latest ones found (click here). It’s a very good quality card skimmer,  most people wouldn’t be able to tell it’s actually stealing card details. In the photo on the right can you tell which one is the real card reader and which is the skimmer?

Inside the card skimmer it has:

  • Electronics to read your bank card’s details
  • A camera to record someone typing a PIN

Some other card skimming devices also have a mobile (cell) phone built in, to transmit details to the criminal. This one doesn’t.

So the next time you use an ATM have a good look at the card reader. These things are out there, people get caught out every day.

Fake Haiti Donation Email

There’s a fake email being circulated in the UK asking for donations to help with the recent earthquake in Haiti. The email claims to be from the Red Cross but it’s really just a scam.

This is what the email looks like:

The British Red Cross Society
British Red Cross
UK Office
44 Moorfields
London EC2Y 9AL


Dear reader,

A devastating earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck Haiti on 12 January 2010 sending the Haitian Capital Port-Au-Prince into chaos, killing hundreds and affecting thousands more. Please give what you can today to help thousands of people there in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Relief aid workers from the Red Cross have already been arriving at the Haitian capital with relief materials.

Donations have been grouped into two cartegories:

1: Group A (£250 British Pounds to £1,000 British Pounds
2: Group B (£1,000 British Pounds and above)

Donations are to be made payable immediately via WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER immediately and directly to our donations accounts liason officer as RECEIVER’S name:

LOCATION: 44 Moorfields, London EC2Y 9AL

Please provide us via return email the following informations below as they appear on the Western Union Money Transfer slip;

1. Name and Address of Sender
2. Exact Amount Sent ***
3. MTCN ***

NOTE: At British Red Cross we are committed to protecting your privacy as a STANDARD practice. We will not share your information unless you have previously indicated that you are happy for us to do so.

Hope to receive your donations soon as thousands need your help.

Please send return email with donations details to

Yours Sincerely,

For and on behalf of The British Red Cross Society

first_ aid kit The email has a few spelling and grammatical errors. They unnecessarily capitalise a few words. Both of these things are unprofessional and would not be done by a serious organisation. Also, they want money sent to Western Union! Any legitimate organisation would have a professional method of accepting money. All these things should make you suspicious of the email.

If you see this email remember that it’s a scam. And there’s no doubt that there’ll be dozens more emails with similar Haiti scams. If you want to donate to help with humanitarian efforts then find an official (and recognised) charity organisation and donate to them. Don’t click on links in emails that you receive.

Also be aware that scammers will use every event that makes the news as an excuse to send these type of emails. When celebrities die they send out similar emails, asking for money or asking you to click on a link (that goes to a malicious site). They never stop sending out these emails.

Fake banking App For Android

Android is a system used by some smartphones (similar to iPhone or Windows Mobile, but made by Google). Like other smartphones you can install apps on Android.

One Android app that showed up recently is a free banking app. It looks like it supports US banks. But instead of logging into your bank it sends your online banking details to a scammer. Then it won’t be long until someone steals money from your bank account.

Google has been notified of this malicious app and they have removed it. But for some people it may be too late.

There’s a lesson to be learnt here. Smartphones are cool, installing apps on them is cool. But we shouldn’t let our guard down and trust everything to them. Know what you’re installing, know who wrote the software, and how it stores and sends your login details.

As more people buy smartphone scams are only going to become more common.

A Sophisticated Way To Steal Money

Here’s an example of a very sophisticated piece of malware designed to steal money. It was discovered recently in Germany and was used to steal €300,000 in 3 weeks. Here’s how it works:

  1. You visit a web page that has been hacked. It’s an ordinary web page (such as a news site), nothing looks out of the ordinary.
  2. A trojan is installed on your computer without your knowledge. It sits there on your PC waiting and watching.
  3. You log onto your internet banking site. Everything still looks normal.
  4. The trojan detects that you’ve logged into an internet banking site and it makes a transaction, transferring money from your account to the account of a money mule (more on this later).
  5. When you look at your bank statement online, the trojan captures the network data and changes it to hide the transaction it made. The numbers it shows on the screen have been altered.

Step 5 is the sophisticated part of this attack. Normally you’d notice if money was transferred from your bank account without your approval, but the trojan hides this by showing you a fake statement on your screen. If you can’t see the money being taken from your account the criminals have more time to keep making withdrawals.

The amount of money it steals is different each time so that the bank’s anti-fraud detectors don’t see the pattern of theft.

More details here on this attack works.

So what’s a money mule?

Stealing money from people’s bank accounts is a big business. Criminals not only write sophisticated malware to carry out the transactions, they also recruit money mules to launder the money.

They place ads online offering jobs to desperate people. These jobs require no experience and you work from home (sound familiar?). People who sign up to these jobs receive money in their bank accounts, then they have to transfer it to someone else’s account. They do this willingly and are paid for it, but they usually don’t know that it’s part of a criminal organisation.

This is how the criminals receive their stolen money and cover their tracks. It’s a form of money laundering and is illegal. And to avoid a pattern detection they usually only use these money mules twice.

Here’s an example of a money mule job ad.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Always use an antivirus program that not only scans your PC for malware, but also checks every web page you go to. Good antivirus programs cost money and it’s a good investment to protect your online security.
  • Only use internet banking from a PC you trust.
  • Always update your PC with the latest patches. For example, tomorrow there’ll be a large Windows update, you should install this as soon as possible (after you make a backup).
  • Don’t trust job ads that promise the world for little to no effort.

Inside The Password Stealing Business

McAfee, a large anti-virus company, has published a report called “Inside the Password Stealing Business: the Who and How of Identity Theft”. It goes into the details of password stealing programs and explains the “industry” driving it.

It’s quite detailed and at 17 pages it won’t take too long to read – it’s not very technical.

Password stealing is when a program gets installed on your PC that catches every stroke of your keyboard and sends it back to a criminal. The idea is that it’ll record all your passwords as you type them, no matter how strong they are. It’s a sophisticated piece of technology and a very large problem worldwide. If you’re not constantly upgrading your anti-virus software, web browser and OS then you’re at high risk.

These passwords are then sold off and used to steal money from your bank account or to commit other crimes. Even if you don’t use online banking you still have something to lose – someone can apply for a credit card under your name and use it to make expensive purchases, then you’re left to deal with the credit card company and convince them it wasn’t you (this happens every day).

So click on this link and have a read of the report.