Sunday, May 4, 2014

Scammer Warning 01

When I get scam emails, I get so angry.  Firstly, because they're actually trying to get my information illegally, to rip me off.  Secondly, and this is the worst, because someone innocent is going to fall for the scheme and have their identity and/or money stolen and that really gets me mad. So, I thought I would do something new on my blog and start to update you on scams I get, and point out why they are scams, to try and educate people and stop these scammers from succeeding in their shady business.

I have to say, these scammers are getting clever in their schemes.  Yesterday I received the following email (click on it to enlarge):

It looks pretty legitimate and I had to do a double-take when I first looked at it.  However, there were a number of things about this email that started to ring alarm bells in my head:

1. I never ordered either of these products.
2. The price for these products was too high to seem to be actual purchases.
3. I've never noticed the line on iTunes receipt before, talking about my account being hijacked.
4. No legitimate business ever asks you for financial data in an email.

So, instead of clicking on any of their links, I went to my online bank statement to see if any money had been taken from my account, supposedly to buy these products under my iTunes account.  The receipt date was 28th April, so there should have been an amount on my online statement within 2-3 days of this transaction.  There was none, so I was able to breathe easy knowing that no one had hacked into my iTunes account.

My next train of thought was getting angry with these people trying to scam innocent people.  This receipt looked like the real thing and it would be easy and understandable for people to fall for this.  I want to protect people from getting scammed, so please spread this post to everyone, to ensure they are aware.  Below is a legitimate email receipt from iTunes, with a "spot the difference" explanation underneath (again, click on it to enlarge it).

i. = iTunes
s. = scammer email

1. (not shown here).  The email address that sent the email:
  • i. was sent from an '' email address
  • s. was sent from a random email address (which I didn't think to get a copy of as an example before permanently deleting the email like I do for all scam emails)
2. Order number:
  • i. is different from the receipt number (in the subject line) and contains numbers and letters
  • s. is the same as the receipt number and does not contain letters
3. Billed To (1) (Address):
  • i. states my email address and current postal address
  • s. only states my email address
4. Date:
  • i. Titled: "Issue Date" and only has the date stated DD/MM/YY
  • s. Titled: "Receipt Date" and has the date stated MM/DD/YYYY and the time
5. Billed To (2) (Payment Type):
  • i. States the type of card used (i.e. MasterCard, Visa, AMEX) etc. with the last four digits of the card
  • s. States my email address
6. Heading:
  • i. "Tax Invoice"
  • s. "Receipt"
7. Headings of items purchased:
  • i. "Item" "Seller" "Type" "Unit Price"
  • s. "Item Number"  Description" "Unit Price"
8. End notes:
  • i. Does not not mention if your account has been hijacked and does not ask for personal/financial information
  • s. Gives a link to go to if you suspect your account has been hijacked and advises "you will be asked some specific questions about you and your financial data to prove you actually owned the account".  This line out of everything should set off the BIGGEST alarm bells.
There are some other differences at the bottom of the email, but the ones stated above are the major ones to look out for.

NB: Regarding number 4. and 6. The differences could be partly to do with whether you purchase in Australia or the USA.  The scammers will have used an American email to make up the receipt, so the title "Receipt" might be legitimate there and the date format used by them is in the American format.

Please pass this information around, especially to friends and family who are more vulnerable to these sorts of scams, who aren't very internet savvy.  Stop the scammers from succeeding!

Unfortunately this post is showing the scammers how to improve their emails in future, which I am sorry about doing.  However, if it stunts their success even a little in the meantime, then I feel I've done my job educating everyone on these scams.  Each time I get a scam email, I will be posting an update here on my blog.

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