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 Match.com, 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 Eventually these communications will lead to a request for the victim to wire money, which will be withdrawn from their bank account immediately and into an offshore account – where a refund is far from likely.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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The Big Business of Spam: Adulterers beware, scammers may be targeting you

As you have probably heard by now, a group of hackers who call themselves The Impact Team recently breached the systems of Avid Life Media (ALM), and stole sensitive data from AshleyMadison.com. The group has since published a large cache of data that includes personal information from members of the site, and are making that data available online for download. To make the situation worse, opportunistic scammers are looking to capitalize on this unique opportunity for a financial gain of their own. To start, the scammers will send phishing emails suggesting that they have information on the recipient that will expose them as an AshleyMadison user. The scam methods they’re using are quite simple and common, yet highly effective when used as a scare tactic like this. Spammers often buy full lists of verified addresses (email addresses in this case) after a large breach, then target and attempt to solicit the users. Here’s how this particular scam works: An unsuspecting user will get an email titled – “Recent data leak, your details are there!” (image below) Once the user opens the email, they will see a note that implies that their personal information has been leaked along with the other 37 million people. At the end of the note, they are directed to click on a link that will direct them to a page that offers services from UnTraceMe. From there, they are directed to pay a fee of $19.95 to get their information secured and removed. (image below) After a spooked user agrees to pay the fee and clicks on the link provided, they are then directed to use a PayPal-like site to pay the fee and “secure their information.” (image below) What folks don’t know is that the leaked data can be retrieved by just about anyone, and will not disappear no matter what ransom is paid. At this time, Barracuda Labs has blocked over 1000 emails similar to the one imaged above, and depending on the monetary success that the spammers...

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The Big Business of Spam: Stay clear of these “too-hot-to-miss” sale opportunities from your Facebook Friends

We’ve previously warned about deals that are too good to be true (https://barracudalabs.com/2015/05/the-big-business-of-spam-dr-ozs-brand-new-trick-to-shed-27-pounds-in-just-one-month/) – and with summer in full swing, the Barracuda Labs team has seen more and more false domains like (rb-to.com, raybanglassesofhot.com and summer-raybans.com) popping up in feeds and social media timelines. Our Labs team ran a background check on the domains and many of them appear to be registered in China, including the domain listed above. While browsing your Facebook or Twitter timelines, you may have come across “sponsored ads” that seem too good to be true. Most can be spotted immediately and swiftly ignored; however, you may have been tagged in a post or received a message on your personal timeline posted by a friend, directing you to a killer sale. See figure 1 for an example. Figure 1. The example above shows an ad for Ray Ban, a popular sunglass retailer whose classic sunglasses range from $155 to $200, that looks as though it was shared by a regular user or even a friend on Facebook. The ad targets unsuspecting consumers looking to score the name brand sunglasses for up to 80% off. Figure 2. The idea here, like any scam, is to entice unknowing consumers to jump on the hot deals and “buy” the Ray Ban’s at such low prices. Once the links are clicked on, the consumer is redirected to what looks like a legitimate discount website that is offering deals with up to 80% savings on multiple styles, see Figure 2 and Figure 3 for examples. Figure 3. The phisher hopes that the deal is too good for the consumer to pass up and engages in purchasing the product. Here, the phisher is hoping the consumer will enter their personal data like first and last name, emails address, personal home address and credit card information, to then flip and sell to third parties. It is always smart to use best practices when shopping online. Here are a few tips: Do a bit of research and go...

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The Big Business of Spam: What Caitlyn Jenner Uses to Prevent Wrinkles and Stop the Aging Process

The cover for Vanity Fair’s July 2015 print issue was publicized on the Vanity Fair website June 1, and revealed the newly transformed, Caitlyn Jenner. The cover photo went viral reaching over 46 million people across Vanity Fair’s website and social media – with the internet virtually exploding. Jenner even beat President Obama’s record for reaching 1 million Twitter followers in just under five hours. With Jenner’s name in the headlines this week, it’s no surprise that spammers have jumped on the opportunity to try and use her likeliness to trick users into visiting sites to push beauty products in hopes to gain monetary value. So far, we’ve seen over 100K samples and variants of spam emails using Caitlyn Jenner as the lure to get people to click on compromised links. The emails all have different subject lines, but include the same content in the email body. The spam appears to be coming from possible compromised machines, most of which trace back to IP addresses in the United States. Figure 1 below is an example of the emails that are being sent out in large quantities, hoping to entice users into clicking on spammy links. The embedded links in the email titled “Caitlyn swears she just used this” and “Here is what went down” redirects users to the following website – http://www.goodbodyhealthtips.org/index.php?aff_sub=1394&aff_sub2=190076&aff_sub3=1021342e9d6b955d9a9c66e5ed3293 (labeled “wrinkle miracle”) – that pushes an anti-aging facial cream to prevent wrinkles, revealed by Dr. Oz called Dermakin Anti-Aging Cream. Figure 1 As shown in Figure 2 below, once on the page, the user will see the headline “Revealed by Dr. Oz! Jen’s Closely Guarded Secret For A Wrinkle Free Face” that is said to be featured in Yahoo!, Woman’s Day, VANITY FAIR, TIME, People and Aol. Figure 2 Figure 3 below shows that while on the page, the user will see “before” and “after” photos of stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Katie Couric, Goldie Hawn and Barbara Streisand who have allegedly used the wrinkle cream. Figure 3 At the bottom of...

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The Big Business of Spam: Dr. Oz’s Brand New Trick to Shed 27 Pounds in Just One Month!!

With a high obesity rate in the United States, people are looking for hope to find a miracle cure for weight loss. Unfortunately, spammers understand this and why it’s no surprise that Barracuda Central has picked up about 6,000 diet spam type emails since the beginning of 2015. With the Memorial Day holiday just passing, signaling bikini season, it’s also no surprise we have seen a rise in the volume of diet spam – showing just how intelligent spammers’ planning around the timing of certain types of spam are creating the big business of spam. Figure 1 One name that is often seen in the media in relation to cures for weight loss is Dr. Oz, who is no stranger to being scrutinized. Spammers often take advantage of his namesake and people’s hope for a weight loss miracle cure. In this specific email (figure 1), when a user opens a link, they will be directed to a news webpage that describes Dr. Oz’s weight loss discovery. This type of spam often displays names and pictures of well-known people, to try to entice the reader even more – Rachel Ray is used in the example below (figure 2). The site claims that “Pure Forskolin Extract,” (see Ad in Figure 3) which was actually introduced on the Dr. Oz show, is a “miracle pill” weight loss solution. It claims to burn body fat, and leaves the person with only lean muscle. Figure 2 Although the website is fake, part of the website’s content make it look legitimate to users. The first thing that the user will notice is the video of Dr. Oz advertising the Forskolin supplement that causes belly fat to melt. The website also uses content from healthierlivingdecision.com to make it look legitimate and mask the true nature of the site. But if the user clicks on any of the links on the website, including the registration link, it will direct them to the product page where they are prompted to enter their personal...

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Better Call Saul… New Crypto Ransomware using Breaking Bad Theme Emerges in Australia

According to reports from ABC Australia (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-11/new-computer-ransomware-encrypts-files-asks-for-up-to-1000/6461606) a new crypto ransomware threat is circling Australian’s email inboxes. You probably remember the Cryptolocker Trojan, as it is one of the scariest bits of malware we’ve seen in a while. Cryptolocker is ransomware that restricts access to a victim’s files until the victim makes a payment to the criminal. Once the payment is made, the criminal may or may not release access to the files. Read more about Cryptolocker in this blog post, http://blog.barracuda.com/2014/01/09/are-you-prepared-for-cryptolocker/ This latest version of Cryptolocker takes on the branding of the late, great, popular tv show, Breaking Bad. It uses the “Los Pollos Amigos” name, which is the restaurant that provided money laundering and was the base for other functions on the show. The ransomware also links to a video that shows victims how to use bitcoin, which was likely included to help the victims pay the ransom. Researchers believe that the ransomware is spread via email, and downloaded through an infected zip attachment. Barracuda Email Security Service and Barracuda Spam Firewall customers are protected from these types of emails. Ransomware a is particularly sinister attack, because it forces you to interact with the criminals in order to get access to your data. This particular version even includes the phrase “the one who knocks” in the email address, which is just insult added to injury for those who are familiar with Breaking Bad. Most of you reading this blog are IT pros, so you already know how to deal with malware, and you’ve probably already heard of Cryptolocker.  This Breaking Bad version gives you a good opportunity to revisit your Cryptolocker defense plan, including security software, your backups, and the overall state of your network. Are your users protected from malware, and ransomware in particular? Is there anything more you can do? If you are battling a budget crunch and you need help selling the decision makers on solutions, consider adding Cryptolocker to your talking points: Even police departments and governments are paying the ransom Untraceable...

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