Watch Out for Hilarious Virus, Worm and Scam Emails
Everyone gets 'em — from vast international companies to my Grandma Pat. Everyone must be constantly vigilant and cautious.
It's demoralizing how much negative, counterproductive energy is represented by the creation and distribution of viruses, worms and fraudulent emails. It's also astounding to contemplate the vast global effects a single nasty can cause. Think of the cumulative lost days, weeks and months in millions of people's lives. Billions of dollars spent and vast, alert industries erected simply to combat this electronic destruction.
But they can also be quite funny, in an inept way. A recent email with the subject Happy People! arrived with an attachment named video.zip all of 9 KB and a single line in the body of the email which reads Funny Joke! Taken as a whole I had never seen a virus so brutally honest. First of all, Happy People! refers to the sender, much in the same way the deliverer of the classic "Pull My Finger" joke is usually the one who is more amused (and relieved). As for the attachment, any dufus knows there isn't much in enjoyment in a video with only 9 KB of information. Most animated GIFs will exceed that in the first frame. And lastly, Funny Joke! refers to what will happen if you're dumb enough to go poking around in that video.zip file. Where's the lure?
Well sir, they musta been listening because within just a few days I sure did get another email with a much more enticing lure. This one had a subject of "Great photos for you" touting an attachment called jolie.zip and Angelina Jolie mentioned specifically in the body. Sexual photos! Wow. Just so you know, I think Angelina is hot. I'd sell my soul and my motorcycle to play monopoly with her. So when "sexual photos" of her arrive neatly packaged in a zip file in my inbox, I have to wonder if Big Brother had been watching from a telescreen, saying "Well, he didn't fall for our funny joke and video.zip, let's send Jolie."
These two nasties had eluded all antivirus software, Outlook's meticulous filters, and my German Shepherd dog. It awed me to think that in this late date, so many years after getting on the net and having various email addresses and constantly subject to a barrage of rubbish, these two viruses of unimaginable destructive power could be sitting on my computer like one of Jokey Smurf's presents. Double-click to detonate!
Of course, I keep getting new and interesting viruses, and I have to wonder if they're all coming from the same source. Some creative genius trying different messages and approaches, tailoring each for its target demographic. Maybe grandma gets one which says “pictures of your grandson" or “free knitting classes."
They'll try everything. So wouldn't you know it, the very next week I get “The best photos for you" with tits.rar attached, and the message reads "Helo, dear. Watch my tits! Regards."
This happened over 10 days and I found each gem quite hilarious. Happy people! Funny Joke! Angelina Jolie Sexual Photos!!! Watch my tits! They must nail alot of guys with such brilliant tactics.
Within a few days I got an eCard. Or so it said. Instead of an attachment the email included a link to a sketchy-looking site hosting a file called e-card.exe. Rudimentary internet protocol dictates never download an exe unless you can absolutely guarantee that it's from an extremely trustworthy site — like your own website hosting a file you just put there moments before. But the email was very sincere and the spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors were surprisingly subtle. And it certainly looked and sounded legit. Wonder how many people fell for this one?
On a daily basis I get loads of questionable correspondence which is conveniently filed into a junk mail folder in Outlook. From time to time I amuse myself my looking through this delightful treasure trove. The most common is the confidence trick or Nigerian Scam, which begins with a polite letter informing the recipient of some convuluted set of unfortunate circumstances resulting in a vast sum of money — oh say $10 million dollars — sitting in a foreign bank waiting for some greedy, foolish American to send them an advance fee to grease up the financial transfer. The writer is predominantly self-described as a doctor, reverend or professor, and the other characters are citizens or officials of great stature in the third-world country which provides the setting. These emails are remarkable for their detailed premises and atrocious punctuation and spelling. However, if you have a few minutes they are a fascinating bit of fiction that boggles the mind as to why anybody would fall for this scheme. It must be noted that the story, sum and characters change, but the basic concept does not: So n' So writing the letter relates the events which lead up to this astounding wad of cash being lodged somewhere. Usually some deceased person has purportedly earned the money and the appellant is the son, beneficiary, executor or trustee of the estate who must find a safer location for the stated sum. Over the years receiving these letters I've noticed a steady improvement in the quality of the written material, yet the format and content remains the same.
However, more recently the tone has changed, and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller has already sent me two letters, Attn: Beneficary, insisting that I have become entangled with named frauds and imposters and yet this sum of USD $11,000,000 is still waiting “in an ATM CARD" for me to collect, with a daily maximum of $5000 available “from any ATM MACHINE CENTER" provided I fulfill some unnamed “Financial Obligation."
I find the latter letters especially humorous when they describe the parties involved as scammers, frauds and imposters. One letter arrived from the "THE UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION In Conjunction with the International Monetary Fund WORLD BANK FACT-FINDING & SPECIAL DUTIES OFFICE LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM" (I am awed). It is stated that the United Nations Security Council (which has my payment ready to transfer) was "set up to fight against scam and fraudulent activities worldwide." I suppose this is included to improve confidence in the recipient. “Wow, they're against fraud so it's safe, eh?" Another letter from "ECOBANK/UNITED NATIONS 2008 SCAM VICTIMS COMPENSATIONS PAYMENTS" is especially ironic. I'm set to receive half a mil even though I've never been scammed. If I followed through to try and obtain this compensation, wouldn't I be scamming them?
In many cases, they really just want to elicit a response from the recipient, to get a dialogue started. Once you respond with interest they have a confirmation that your email is valid and that you're gullible. If you call then they have your phone number. From that initial contact they work on gaining your trust until you send some money or release some confidential information. Anything they get can be turned to some benefit so don't ever respond!
During a period of constant Skype usage I connected with alot of interesting people all around the globe. Random people would contact me from Macedonia or China or elsewhere and we'd have a pleasant conversation. After awhile it's pretty easy to tell the genuine people from the scammers. But before I was fully cognizant I chatted it up with “a girl" who had posted this tiny picture of a model on a rocky beach in their Skype profile, and even Skyped me a couple tiny pictures of a girl modelling against a flat wall when asked what she looked like. Silly me, people are sometimes not who they say they are online. This made me suspicious, but since I had only dealt with professionals via Skype, I kept conversing. Eventually “she" disclosed she was in a hotel in South Africa and needed money to pay some bills and get out of there. Where's that “Block User" option? These days the spammers post hot women for their profile pictures and send a link to their profile page right off the bat. Jennifer asked me what they were selling once so I followed the link and indeed found some woman's profile page where all the links led to a porn site charging a membership fee to see more sexy girls, even suggesting I could get laid that night!
If you've ever put up an expensive item on Craigslist, eBay or a similar site, you may have been the recipient of an enticing email which is too good to be true. Craigslist suggests that it probably is. While I have never had a problem with any of the hundreds of transactions using their barebones community network, I have gotten numerous offers for my computers or vehicles which require that I accept a check made out to more than the sell price and that I send them the difference and they'll arrange for a pickup. My mother's husband was selling his beautiful motorcycle awhile back and received this sort of offer, cautiously playing along and eventually holding the check in his hand. His bank manager took a gander and immediately knew what was up. The fake check was subsequently turned over to the authorities to assist them in their efforts to counter such fraudulent activites. The best rule for Craigslist is to deal with flesh-and-blood people and exchange cash.
And of course there's the letter from some international organization claiming I have won some grand prize of a contest I've never heard of, and that I need to contact them immediately to receive my winnings.
All the rest of the emails entice me to gamble, buy expensive watches, viagra, cialis, earn a degree, obtain a loan, flirt with singles or apply for a menial job. All encourage me to visit sketchy wesbite URLs with some lure.
Scammers are working hard everyday to steal your money. Virus and worm authors are working hard to destroy your work and ruin your life. When possible, do not even respond. If you are caught up in something, notify the authorities immediately!
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Watch Out for Hilarious Virus, Worm and Scam Emails