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Super Bowl Presents Super Opportunity for Spammers

It’s no secret that highly-anticipated events like the Super Bowl generate buzz around everything from commercials to merchandise, allowing opportunistic businesses to capitalize on the millions of eyes viewing from around the globe. However, what many folks fail to recognize is the opportunity events like the Super Bowl also create for scammers to generate disingenuous websites and emails to trap people into paying for items they will never see. This year is shaping up to be no different as proven by Barracuda Labs, which has already detected spam for replica jerseys on sale for the 2016 Super Bowl teams via sites such as pantherssuperbowlshop-dot-com and broncossuperbowlshop-dot-com. Fake Panther Super Bowl site   Fake Broncos Super Bowl site Click here for a larger image of both sites. In this particular instance, spam emails from the above sites claim to have replica jerseys on sale, but the links unfortunately lead to false websites. These false websites then ask people to pay for replica jerseys without a secure payment option, and request credit card information for fraudulent purposes. Ultimately, these sites are scamming people out of money by pretending to sell items that they will never ship and even go so far as to claim the items ordered are “Out Of Stock” after payment was already received. How to tell it’s a scam: Based on what we’ve seen in these scam messages, the domains are targeted attacks focused on fans of the 2016 NFL Super Bowl teams (Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos). The domains used here were registered on December 15, 2015, which was right around week 15 of 17 for the NFL – two games before the playoffs started. Our research shows that the registration information points to the spam coming from: tian xiang da sha,405#,wan he lu 99hao,Chengdu,China. Both of the sites request buyers to input personal information including, name, address, credit card info etc. However, once they try to access their cart at the time of purchase –it doesn’t allow them to purchase as...

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The Big Business of Spam: Don’t Click These Links or, “You’re Fired!”

Jan 20, 16 The Big Business of Spam: Don’t Click These Links or, “You’re Fired!”

Posted by in Email Security, Uncategorized

A new year may have begun, but the big business of spam is still very present. Barracuda Central has recently detected a new spam tactic that uses Donald Trump’s name and image in make-money-quick schemes. Regardless of political or personal views, Donald Trump is a name that most people know. Spammers are very much aware of this, and are using it to their advantage. Get-rich-quick schemes are not new to the big business of spam, but the tactics to get recipients to read these spam emails are always changing. Specific to these ‘Donald Trump’ messages, spammers are using these angles of enticement: A mainstream name in the media (‘Donald Trump’) Words or phrases similar from actual news conferences (‘You’re Fired!’) An email alias that disguises the spammer as a Trump or a legitimate news source (ex. CNN, see Figure 1) Figure 1These tactics are designed to make the spam email seem more legitimate, making the recipient more likely to open the message. Tactics to look for specific to this scam: First, the subject line: “Donald Trump reveals simple plan to help every American earn more money.” The subject in itself is enticing to the recipient since it uses a mainstream name and the words “earn more money.” Once this message is opened, you will see obvious spammer tactics: Designed to look like it was sent by Trump Uses the CNN logo and similar website formatting Links to “See Trump’s plan for American’s to triple their income…” Once in the email, if a reader clicks on the links, they are redirected to a false CNN site, (one can look at their browser, to see that they were not directed to CNN, but a falsified site, ex. see Figure 2). Figure 2  While looking over the false CNN site, you will see tactics continuously used to help prove legitimacy. The site also uses fake statements claiming they are direct quotes from Trump during news conferences. In addition, any link clicked on from the fake CNN site...

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The Big Business of Spam: Open Enrollment Signals Open Season for Spammers

Spam is big business all year long, and it never goes out of season.  Unfortunately, spammers do kick things into high gear during the fall.  This is when people are buying gifts, thinking about how to get money to buy gifts, or opening holiday E-Cards that aren’t really from friendly people.  Spam tends to increase during this time, just because there’s more opportunity when people are in the holiday spirit. Fall is also the time of year when insurance companies allow businesses and individuals to adjust their health and life insurance coverage.  This is known as Open Enrollment, and spammers come out in force to try to take advantage of this well-known event. Barracuda Central, our 24×7 advanced security operations center, has detected an increase in health and life insurance spam over the last few weeks.  We have picked up several hundred examples of these emails since October. These particular spam messages use names of real insurance companies, such as AIG, Fidelity Life Insurance, and Medicare.  The messages have generic subject lines such as “Open Enrollment is here!” and “Now is the time to change your plan.” See Figure 1 for example. Figure 1These messages are particularly crafty and made to look as real as possible. Not only are the spammers using legitimate names of health and life insurance companies, they are also using images and wording that is close, and sometimes almost identical to the real advertisements from these entities. These “insurance” emails try their best to look convincing and lure the recipient to open them by promising a free quote for insurance plans (Figure 2). Some emails are so convincing, going so far as to even use the company name in the sending domain (Figure 3). Figure 2  Figure 3If the email is convincing enough and the recipient clicks on the false “free quote” link, they will notice their internet browser redirects a few times to sites that never fully load, the redirecting of the browser sometimes happens so rapidly that it...

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The Big Business of Spam: Online Dating Requests Through Email – Not So Fast

Meeting people online has never been easier, unfortunately for some people, falling for that perfect connection may not be the only thing they are falling for these days. Online dating scams are quickly becoming a likely possibility due to the giant audience attracted to online dating sites. It’s no secret that scammers target large audiences, and according to an article published on, there are currently over 40 million people trying to meet that special someone online. So, how can users avoid falling victim to an online dating scam without dumping the scene all together? One way is to remain aware that any email you receive regardless of the topic – could be a scam in disguise. For example, through Barracuda Central, the Barracuda Labs team recently flagged and dissected a series of factious emails from scammers attempting to impersonate a missed connection from a dating site. These scams are banking on the potential that the recipient has an online dating account in order to bait them into replying to an offsite message. This particular email scam suggests that the recipient email them directly so they can get to know each other, which is simply a tactic used in order to bypass spam filters. Here is one of the messages we came across: As you can see, this particular message is written poorly which should always raise a red flag, and if the recipient takes action and replies, the scammer’s sob story quickly follows in hopes to earn the trust of the victim. Eventually these communications will lead to a request for the victim to wire money, which will be withdrawn from their bank account immediately and into an offshore account – where a refund is far from likely. Not only will your wallet be empty, your heart may be broken along with it, and you’ll be well on your way to a number one hit on the county music charts. Not your idea of a good time? Fortunately, it might actually be easier...

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