The perils of the internet and e-mail

A few posts ago I was talking about the opportunities and threats of “Social Media”. Since then I have seen a few more examples.

fact or not

So firstly treat what you read with a pinch of salt (as you should anything you read unless you know you can trust the source). This (on the right) is a post that has been going around on Facebook. Now while I sympathise with the sentiments it is neither a “Fact” nor “Legal” and I am sure that no-one would be taken in by this. But a slightly less outlandish statement and a gullible person . . . well who knows.

Then there are those who realise that Facebook is not good for them. This is a recent post from a friend who is no longer on Facebook:

I’ve made a massive decision to come off Facebook. Some recent, personal, events have made me think about what Facebook has done, and continues to do, to my mental health…and it’s not good. So, by the end of next week I will delete my account for good. I will always be around for coffee and chat, just not on Facebook. It’s no longer a fun, healthy environment for me and I realise that this is the best for me.

I have no idea what triggered this but good for them. When Facebook becomes the master rather than the servant then it is time to give it the boot. For me it is a useful tool for keeping in touch with (geographically) distant friends and relations as well as being a source of amusement – one friend regularly shares puns and cartoons – although it is often irritating.

However there is a more sinister side to the internet. In Do you remember . . . I mentioned Facebook being hacked so that people thought that messages and posts were coming from a friend when they were not. There is another variant – a blackmail e-mail.

I recently received an e-mail  from a “Waylon Adelstein” stating that ****** is one of my passwords (it isn’t anymore). He (I assume he is a he) then went on to talk about placing malware on the 18+ videos website (whatever that is) which gathered my contacts and recorded the video I was supposedly watching along with a video from my webcam.  He then requested a “donation” of 1000USD in Bitcoins (something else I don’t understand) otherwise he would send the video to all my contacts. Once I had reported this to I deleted this e-mail. A week or so later I had a second similar e-mail also from a Russian e-mail address.

There were only two sites that I used this ****** password on, one of which was Facebook and the other Blurb. So I think the probability is that it was Facebook if they were able to bypass or intercept the Login alert (“We’ve noticed an unusual login from a device or location you don’t usually use. Was this you?“) otherwise it must have been Blurb. The scam relied on the fact that they had identified a valid password and that I might possibly have something to hide.

I am told that to crack any password only requires a matter of time and if it is an e-mail password that is cracked then it opens up another scam. I recently  heard of a fraud where invoices that were being sent by e-mail were intercepted and payment details altered. Another variant of the diverting online payments scam was received by a charity I am involved in. It was sent the following e-mail:

Due to high bank charges and high taxiation, we have shut-down our previous bank account some hours ago.

From henceforth, Kindly remit all our payment to our other bank account as stated below,

Bank name: Monzo Bank
Account no: 32738458
Sort code:04-00-04

 Kindly confirm in return mail with exact date you would remit the payment.

Your quickest reply mail would be so much appreciated.

This appeared to come from our contact at a taxi company (and we were expecting an invoice from them) but was in fact nothing to do with them. Fortunately we only pay by cheque so weren’t caught out by this. Hopefully all the company’s other customers weren’t taken in (or were warned). I assume that the request for the “exact date you would remit the payment” was so that they could move any payments overseas as soon as they were received and before the account could be frozen.

It’s a jungle, this internet world!



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