World Business Guide – Scam

I received the email shown below, Googled it and saw that it’s a scam. Unfortunately I also found that quite a lot of people have fallen for this scam so I’ll explain how it works.

Firstly they send out the email shown, it offers to list your business on a register. Their email mentions the word “free” several times and they never mention a price – but it’s misleading, they’re actually offering a paid service. It’s called deceptive marketing and it’s illegal in most countries.

Then if you sign up to list your business they send an invoice for approx €995 (quite a bit of money).

Now this is when the stress begins for most victims. If you ignore their invoice they start sending a stream of nasty letters threatening legal action. Based on what I’ve read in forums it seems that they’re empty threats (see for yourself here).

So please do a bit of research on any unsolicited marketing offers you might receive. Search on Google, even if you think it’s a free offer.

The email that they sent is:

Ladies and Gentlemen.

In order to have your company inserted in the registry of World Businesses for 2009/2010 edition, please print, complete and submit the enclosed
form (PDF file) to the following address:

P.O. Box 2021
3500 GA Utrecht
The Netherlands

FAX: +31 20 524 8107

Updating is free of charge!

If you are not the intended recipient, please submit an email to
Your request shall be dealt with accordingly.

And the attachment that they sent looks like this:

world business guide

If you see this email just delete it.

Tax Door Knocking Scam

This one has been reported in Australia but could just as easily happen anywhere.

Scammers have been knocking on people’s doors and claiming to be officials from the Australian Tax Office. They ask the resident to sign up to a program in return for reduced taxes. This is the bait part of the scam, offering you a way to pay less tax.

The scammers just need your credit card or bank details in return for their generous offer of reduced taxes. This is confidential information that you shouldn’t be giving out to strangers.

The Australian Tax Office has said that they’ll never initiate unsolicited house calls, if they do ever visit your home they’ll make an appointment first. And they will always show some ID on arrival. If this happens to you and you’re unsure what to do, the ATO’s phone number is 1300 686 636, they’ll be able to verify the situation.

This scam was also happening earlier this year using phone calls – the scammer calls random people and gives them the same story about reducing their tax and claiming to be from the Australian Tax Office.

If you have any comments on how this works in other countries please post below in the comments.

Credit Card Fraud By Cutting Phone Lines

This particular type of fraud targets shop owners and police say it has been happening in Sydney.

The criminals go to a retail shop dressed as electrical contractors and cut their phone lines. They then go into the shop as customers and buy products using a stolen credit card.

Because the phone lines have been cut the store’s staff can’t verify the card to process the transaction. So they either have to trust that the card is legitimate and process the order on paper, or turn away customers.

If you work for a retail store you should be aware of this fraud tactic. There may also be things you can do to protect access to your store’s phone lines, and it may be possible to organise credit card processing facilities that use a mobile network as a backup.

Govt Grant Scam

The email below suggests you can receive $20k from the US government. cashThey ask you to send an email with your personal details. These type of scams then ask you for more details.

Your details are then used for fraudulent activities, under your name (this is called identity theft). It’s also common for the scammer to start asking you for money – there’s usually an excuse that they need to pay lawyers or some other convoluted story.

Below is the scam email, if you see this just delete it:


Secure $20k in Govt Grants and you never need to pay it back.

All American residents can apply for Govt Grants.

Allotment of grants doesnt depend on your credit history.

The strength of our firm is grants writing.We’re doing business since 1999 and we have helped around 20,000 people obtain grants.

Our company is taking fees of 10% only after our clients receive funds from Govt.There’s no risk for you at all.You’re paying our fees only when you’ve received grant money in your bank account.

Send us details including first name, last name, address, profession, date of birth, annual income, reason for govt grant.
Reply back to this email.


Johnathon Hodge

Hacked Version of VLC Player

There is a hacked version of the popular VLC media player. Instead of installing VLC, it starts installing, then asks you to send an SMS to a number. They then send you a code in return to continue installation.

This is wrong. The people that hacked this installer are just trying to make money from your SMS’s. At the moment it’s been detected in the French version of VLC but it could apply to any language.

The real VLC player never asks you to send an SMS. The real VLC player can be downloaded from:

If you download it from anywhere else you end up putting your PC at risk. Always download files from the original vendor’s web site. You can search Google to find it.

ATM Skimming

This isn’t internet or PC related but it’s still good knowledge to avoid scams.

ATM skimming usually involves someone attaching 2 devices to an ATM:

  1. A device to read your bank card number
  2. A device to record you typing in your PIN

They attach these devices to the ATM and make it look convincing enough that most people won’t notice they’re there.

In the past the scammers would come back in a few hours and take away the devices so they can retrieve the information. And sometimes the police would be there waiting for them to return. Today crooks have gotten smarter and attach mobile phones to send the information to their own phone. This way they don’t have to return to the scene of the crime.

So the real problem is, how do you know if an ATM has these skimming devices attached? Below is a presentation prepared for a local bank in Australia. No matter which bank you use the information in this report is useful.

It’s easy to read through the presentation and won’t take up much of your time, and it’s full of interesting photos of card skimmers. You can find it here:

PowerPoint presentation: here.

Foxtel SMS

I just received this one. I haven’t worked out if it’s a scam or how it works, I’ll update this post when I find out (please post your comments here if you know anything). (Update: it’s legitimate)

The SMS was received in Australia and reads:

When you are home please call FOXTEL on 1800882016 (12pm to 8pm) so we can help you check whether your dish requires a component upgrade (no charge).

I don’t have a Foxtel dish and never requested any kind of service or upgrade. My guess is that if I call that number I’ll be charged at a premium rate, or someone will ask me for my credit card number.

Update 1: Someone pointed out that I should be able to call the 1800 number from a pay phone for free. So I’ll do that tomorrow, I have nothing to lose.

Update 2: Pay phones are rare these days. After finding one I called the free number, it’s an electronics engineering company that services Foxtel dishes. Seems like it’s a legitimate SMS, just sent to the wrong person (me). I also received a second SMS exactly the same.

So there we go, it’s not a scam.

Facebook Get Rich Quick Scheme

There were some ads on Facebook promising to make you rich by signing up to a Google advertising program. The ads had bogus testimonials, trying to make it look real.

If you click on the ad it takes you to a page branded "EMillionaire". It tells you to submit your details to see if you’re eligible to join the program.

The details it asks you for include your credit card number. It said that you would be charged US$1.90. Maybe some people were ok with this charge.

However, instead of being charged a small amount and being told the secret of becoming a millionaire, they charge US$197 to your credit card.

This is a scam. Facebook said they’ve removed the ads but people have reported that some still exist.

Also watch out for "Work at home" ads, they’re usually a scam as well.

Money Mule Scam

I was sent the following email. It’s called a money mule scam, basically money laundering. Taking part in these scams is illegal, and in some cases they even ask you to buy things to get you started (making it an even greater scam).

The email looks like:

Point Focus LLC is  now expanding! To deal with the international payments processings we are now looking for people willing to facilitate  establishing of our all-round-the-globe business connections and assist saving considerably by tax disbursing reduction. This position of the Financial Assistant involves accepting payments from our Australian, UK and US ( rarer Spanish) clients to your account and resending to our partners.

You are getting paid right by the moment you cash the payment. It’s the commission in amount equal to 4% out the sum posted on your account. This very amount you’re deducting before sending anything out. So,estimated roughly, you can make up to 2000$ extra monthly.  

Plus, you get: 
– flexi-time (usually 2-3 hours a day)   
– Saturdays & Sundays off    

– Have to be aged 21 or above   
– No criminal record 
– Regular Internet access    
– Ability to accept payments using your bank account 
– Ability to resend the money through Western Union    

If feel qualified, please, attach the following info to start up with:   
–  Fist Name:
–  Last Name:  
–  Age:
–  Sex: 
– Country  
– State, City, Zip   
– Phone number (home and cell)
– Valid email address

NOTE!!!! the email address you use to contact us for the first time is: pointfocusgo@—.com , in the subject field put “interested”. Please, use only mentioned email address, otherwise we’ll fail to receive your response.

Remember if you receive an email like this delete it, don’t reply to it.