The ongoing scourge of Chain Mail

It was the ’60s. I recall my mother sitting at the kitchen table typing out a letter with carbon paper, making multiple copies of something. I remember the words “chain letter,” I never read it, and I don’t know if any money exchanged hands – typical of the so-called “gifting scams – but the point is that these things have been around for a long time.

Back then it was all done by the US Post Office. Then came the advent of the fax machine, and along with the ubiquitous “Nigerian Prince” con, chain letters continued to enjoy popularity.

In 1971, Ray Tomlinson invented and developed electronic mail by creating ARPANET’s networked email system, and by 1976 a full 75% of ARPANET’s traffic was electronic mail. This invention, so useful and so fraught with complications (think Spam), allowed chain mail to come into its full glory.

Now, there are many kinds of chain letters, but the idea of all of them is self-propagation. They are, in a sense, viruses that replicate by the good graces of the receiver and are usually propagated based on the inculcation of guilt. They serve no purpose other than to stroke the ego of some twit who wants attention, and waste internet bandwidth and storage space.

Fully 21 years ago, a valued colleague (thanks, Stephanie) sent me this great send-up of chain letters (by email, of course) and I’ve had it in my files ever since. And it is not lost on me that the fact that I’m sharing it here makes it a chain letter of sorts.


Chain Letter Type 1: The Scroll Down

Make a wish!!!

Really, go on and make one!!!

Oh please… that person will never go out with YOU!!!

Wish something else!!!

Not that, you moron!!!

Something else! Quick!!!

Is your finger getting tired yet?

STOP!!!!

Wasn’t that fun? Hope you made a great wish.

Now, to make you feel guilty, here’s what I’ll do. First of all, if you
don’t send this to 5,096 people in the next 5 seconds, you will be attacked by a mad goat and then thrown off a high building into a pile of manure. it’s true! Because, you know, THIS letter isn’t like all of those fake ones, THIS one is TRUE!!

Really!!! Here’s how it goes:

• Send this to 1 person: One person will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

• Send this to 2- 5 people: 2-5 people will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

• 5-10 people: 5-10 people will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

• 10-20 people: 10-20 people will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

• 20 to 674,951 people: 20 to 674,951 people will be mad at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

Thanks!!!! Good Luck!!!

Chain Letter Type 2: Starving Little Boy

Hello, and thank you for reading this letter. You see, there is a starving little boy in Baklaliviatatlaglooshen who has no arms, no legs, no parents, and no goats. This little boy’s life could be saved, because for every time you pass this on, a dollar will be donated to the Little Starving Legless Armless Goatless Boy from Baklaliviatatlaglooshen Fund. Remember, we have no way of counting letters sent and this is all bull. So go on, reach out, Send this to 5 people in the next 47 seconds. Oh, and a reminder if you accidentally send this to 4 or 6 people, you will die instantly.

Thanks again!!

Chain Letter Type 3: The Horror Story

Hi there!! This chain letter has been in existence since 1897. This is absolutely incredible because there was no email then and probably not as many little 8 year olds writing chain letters.

So this is how it works. Pass this on to 15,067 people in the next 7 minutes or something horrible will happen to you like:

Stupid Horror Story #1:
Miranda Pinsley was walking home from school on Saturday. She had recently received this letter and ignored it. She then tripped on a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the sewer, was gushed down a drainpipe in a flood of poopie, and went flying out over a waterfall. Not only did she smell nasty, she died. This Could Happen To You!!!

Stupid Horror Story #2:
Dexter Bip, a 13 year old boy, got a chain letter in his mail and ignored it. Later that day, he was hit by a car and so was his girlfriend. They both died. Their families were so upset that everyone related to them (even by marriage) went crazy and spent the rest of their miserable lives in an institution. This Could Happen To You!!!

Remember, you could end up like Pinsley and Bip did. Just send this letter to all of your loser friends, and everything will be OK.

Chain Letter Type 4: Meaningless Poem

As if you care, here is a poem that I wrote. Send it to every one of your friends.

Friends
A friend is someone who is always at your side,
A friend is someone who likes you even though you smell like poop,
A friend is someone who likes you even though you’re disgustingly ugly,
A friend is someone who cleans up for you after you’ve thrown up on yourself,
A friend is someone who stays with you all night while you cry about your loser life,
A friend is someone who pretends they like you when they really think you should be attacked by a mad goat and then thrown in a pile of manure,
A friend is someone who scrubs your toilet and vacuums and then gets the check and leaves and doesn’t speak much English… no, sorry that’s the cleaning lady, A friend is not someone who sends you chain letters because he wants his wish of being rich to come true. Now pass this on! If you don’t, you’ll be eaten by wild goats.

Chain Letter Type 5: Microsoft or Disney

This e mail is wicked cool! It was started by Microsoft to test it’s e mail tracking system because, you know, a big high tech company like Microsoft always sends important new software out over the internet to be available to any moron who can operate a computer, right? Plus, they have formed a secret merger with Disney Corp., who has agreed to give up millions of dollars in revenue by giving everyone who reads this e mail, passes it on, looks at it, knows someone that looked at it, or is related to someone who is a friend of someone who looks at it A FREE, ALL EXPENSES PAID TRIP to Disneyland, Disney World, or Euro Disney! So pass this on to everyone you know that is gullible enough to believe this (or not)!

Even if it’s not true, hey insulting all of your friends by implying that
they are gullible by sending this to them is worth the improbable chance that you could go to Disneyland! Even if you lose all of your friends because they are tired of receiving this kind of junk from you, it’s worth the chance, right?

And just for good measure, if you don’t send this on, Microsoft will send its specially trained attack goats to pilfer your house and eat all of your family, SO SEND IT ON!!!!!

Chain Letter Type 6: Virus Warning

VIRUS WARNING!!! If you receive an email entitled “Badtimes” delete it immediately.

Do not open it. Apparently this one is pretty nasty. It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, but it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer.

It demagnetizes the stripes on ALL of your credit cards.

It reprograms your ATM access code, screws up the tracking on your VCR and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD’s you attempt to play.

It will re-calibrate your refrigerator’s coolness settings so all your ice
cream melts and your milk curdles.

It will program your phone AutoDial to call only your mother-in-law’s
number.

So be careful! Forward this to all of your friends, relatives, neighbors, family, enemies, plumbers, garbage men, stock brokers, doctors, and any other acquaintances! It’s for their own good! Thank you.

Chain Letter Type 7: Meaningless Picture

Here is a cute picture I drew.

It is a decapitated angel. Send it on to all of your friends so it will
brighten their day like it did yours! If you don’t, demon possessed goats will move into your house and eat all of your socks, leading you to believe that something is wrong with your washing machine because all of your socks keep disappearing.

Have a nice day!!!


Remember, the moral of the story is, if you get a chain letter, ignore the stupid thing. [Edit for 2020: Especially if it involves sending money or sensitive information to someone you don’t know!]

If it’s a joke or something, send it, sure, but if it’s gonna make people feel guilty (i.e. the goatless boy from Baklaliviatatlaglooshen) or nervous (i.e. Miranda Pinsley who ended up in a waterfall of turds) just delete it.

Do yourself a favor, and everyone else in the world, and say, “DEATH TO CHAIN LETTERS!”

Except this one of course. This one must be sent on to 4,170 people in the next 15 seconds or you’ll be eaten by wild goats.


People have hated chain mail since its inception:

Takk til Nemi.no

On the other hand, there is an entire subreddit dedicated to the kind of mindless trash that fills your inbox or WhatsApp or Messenger, r/forwardsfromgrandma. To this day there are people in my circles who send me the most idiotic things – political screeds, conspiracy theories, pseudoscientific garbage, or random bits of inane humor – despite my begging them to stop. There’s no getting through to these people. So many of these things could be easily put to bed with a 10-second Google search, but they can’t be bothered.

I can’t count the number of times I have been warned about a program that will “open an olympic torch that will burn the entire hard disc C” of my computer.

Oh no! There it is! My computer is ruined!

For some reason, many people seem resistant to education, so there’s probably no way to stop the flood of self-replicating messages on Facebook and other platforms. But over time I’ve learned a couple of discernable red flags that something you’re being sent is bogus:

  1. If the message exhorts you to “send this to everyone you know” … just don’t.
  2. If the message says “Snopes confirms this is true!” the odds are that it is completely bogus. Don’t forward it, trash it. A quick Google search is usually sufficient to confirm that the message is a self-replicating hoax.
  3. If the information you’re being sent and asked to share outrages you, check it. Many people forward things that make them angry, thinking that they are doing something to mitigate a problem. In most cases, the information being spread is completely false, taken out of context, or badly misrepresented.

If you want to be metal AF, you could respond with something like this, but in today’s environment you had better be able to read your audience or your next visit might be from the FBI.

Knowing humanity, this kind of thing will probably never disappear entirely, but continuing education will serve to reduce the flood to a manageable level.

Share this blog post with everyone you know. ¹

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ That’s a joke, people. Of course I like increased engagement, but you’re not obliged to share anything you read here with anyone, unless you really think it has value.

One website: 542 Advertisers

I recently visited a website I had never been to before because I needed an image. Naturally, I was presented with the “We care about your privacy, accept cookies” dialog.

Image result for accept cookies

This website was different, however, in that it provided a list of every company they share your data with, with toggle switches to accept or reject, plus a link to each company’s privacy policy.

You can set consent preferences for each individual third-party company below. Expand each company list item to see what purposes they use data for to help make your choices. In some cases, companies may disclose that they use your data without asking for your consent, based on their legitimate interests. You can click on their privacy policies for more information and to opt out.

By interacting over time with that particular website, I would be sharing data about my activity with these companies:

A Million Ads Limited, A.Mob, Accelerize Inc., Accorp Sp. z o.o., Active Agent AG, Acuityads Inc., Ad Unity Ltd, ad6media, Adacado Technologies Inc. (DBA Adacado), ADARA MEDIA UNLIMITED, AdClear GmbH, AdColony, Inc., AddApptr GmbH, AdDefend GmbH, AdElement Media Solutions Pvt Ltd, Adello Group AG, Adelphic LLC, Adevinta Spain S.L.U., Adform A/S, Adhese, adhood.com, Adikteev / Emoteev, Adimo, ADITION technologies AG, Adkernel LLC, Adledge, Adloox SA, Adludio Ltd, ADMAN – Phaistos Networks, S.A., ADman Interactive SL, AdMaxim Inc., Admedo Ltd, admetrics GmbH, Admixer EU GmbH, Admotion SRL, Adnami Aps, Adobe Advertising Cloud, Adobe Audience Manager, Adprime Media Inc., ADRINO Sp. z o.o., adrule mobile GmbH, Adserve.zone / Artworx AS, Adsolutions BV, AdSpirit GmbH, adsquare GmbH, Adssets AB, AdsWizz Inc., Adtelligent Inc., AdTheorent, Inc, AdTiming Technology Company Limited, ADUX, advanced store GmbH, ADventori SAS, Adverline, ADYOULIKE SA, Aerserv LLC, Affectv Ltd, affilinet, Affle International, Alive & Kicking Global Limited, Alliance Gravity Data Media, Amobee, Inc., AntVoice, Apester Ltd, AppNexus Inc., Arcspire Limited, Arkeero, ARMIS SAS, Arrivalist Co., ATG Ad Tech Group GmbH, Audience Trading Platform Ltd., AudienceProject Aps, Audiens S.r.l., audio content & control GmbH, Automattic Inc., Avazu Inc., Avid Media Ltd, Avocet Systems Limited, Axel Springer Teaser Ad GmbH, Azerion Holding B.V., B2B Media Group EMEA GmbH, Bandsintown Amplified LLC, Bannerflow AB, Beachfront Media LLC, Beemray Oy, BeeswaxIO Corporation, BEINTOO SPA, BeOp, Better Banners A/S, Bidmanagement GmbH, bidstack ltd, BIDSWITCH GmbH, Bidtellect, Inc, BidTheatre AB, Bigabid Media Ltd, BILENDI SA, Bit Q Holdings Limited, BLIINK SAS, Blis Media Limited, Blue, Blue Billywig BV, Bmind a Sales Maker Company, S.L., Bombora Inc., Bounce Exchange, Inc, Brand Metrics Sweden AB, Browsi Mobile Ltd, Bucksense Inc, BusinessClick, Cablato Limited, Capitaldata, Captify Technologies Limited, Celtra, Inc., Centro, Inc., CerebroAd.com s.r.o., ChannelSight, Chargeads, CHEQ AI TECHNOLOGIES LTD., Clicksco Digital Limited, Clipcentric, Inc., Cloud Technologies S.A., Codewise Sp. z o.o. Sp. k, Collective Europe Ltd., Collective, Inc. dba Visto, Colpirio.com, Comcast International France SAS, Commanders Act, communicationAds GmbH & Co. KG, comScore, Inc., Confiant Inc., Connatix Native Exchange Inc., ConnectAd Realtime GmbH, Consumable, Inc., Contact Impact GmbH, Converge-Digital, Conversant Europe Ltd., Crimtan Holdings Limited, Criteo SA, Cuebiq Inc., Cxense ASA, Cybba, Inc., Cydersoft, Czech Publisher Exchange z.s.p.o., D-Edge, Dailymotion SA, Dataxu, Inc., DeepIntent, Inc., DEFINE MEDIA GMBH, Delta Projects AB, Demandbase, Inc., Densou Trading Desk ApS, Digilant Spain, SLU, Digital Control GmbH & Co. KG, Digital East GmbH, digitalAudience, DIGITEKA Technologies, Digitize New Media Ltd, DigiTrust / IAB Tech Lab, district m inc., DoubleVerify Inc.​, Dr. Banner, Drawbridge, Inc., dunnhumby Germany GmbH, Duplo Media AS, Duration Media, LLC., DynAdmic, Dynamic 1001 GmbH, EASYmedia GmbH, Effiliation, Emerse Sverige AB, emetriq GmbH, EMX Digital LLC, Etarget SE, Eulerian Technologies, Exactag GmbH, Exponential Interactive, Inc, Eyeota Ptd Ltd, Ezoic Inc., Fidzup, Fifty Technology Limited, Flashtalking, Inc., FlexOffers.com, LLC, Forensiq LLC, FORTVISION, Free Stream Media Corp. dba Samba TV, Fusio, Fyber, Gamned, Gamoshi LTD, GDMServices, Inc. d/b/a FiksuDSP, Gemius SA, Genius Sports Media Limited, Getintent USA, inc., GlobalWebIndex, Go.pl sp. z o.o., Goldbach Group AG, Golden Bees, Goodway Group, Inc., GP One GmbH, GRAPHINIUM, Greenhouse Group BV (with its trademark LemonPI), GroupM UK Limited, GumGum, Inc., Haensel AMS GmbH, Happydemics, hbfsTech, HIRO Media Ltd, Hivestack Inc., Hottraffic BV (DMA Institute), Hybrid Adtech GmbH, ID5 Technology SAS, IgnitionAi Ltd, IgnitionOne, Illuma Technology Limited, Impactify, Impression Desk Technologies Limited, Improve Digital International BV, Index Exchange, Inc., INFINIA MOBILE S.L., InMobi Pte Ltd, INNITY, Innovid Inc., Inskin Media LTD, Instinctive, Inc., Instreamatic inc., InsurAds Technologies SA., Integral Ad Science, Inc., Intent Media, Inc., Intercept Interactive Inc. dba Undertone, Internet BillBoard a.s., Intowow Innovation Ltd., INVIBES GROUP, iotec global Ltd., IPONWEB GmbH, Jaduda GmbH, Jampp LTD, Jivox Corporation, Join, Jointag S.r.l., Justpremium BV, Kairos Fire, Kayzen, Keymantics, Knorex Pte Ltd, Kochava Inc., Kubient, KUPONA GmbH, LBC France, Leadplace – Temelio, LeftsnRight, Inc. dba LIQWID, Leiki Ltd., LEMO MEDIA GROUP LIMITED, LifeStreet Corporation, Liftoff Mobile, Inc., Ligatus GmbH, Linicom, LiquidM Technology GmbH, Little Big Data sp.z.o.o., Liveintent Inc., LiveRamp, Inc., LKQD, a division of Nexstar Digital, LLC., Localsensor B.V., Location Sciences AI Ltd, LoopMe Ltd, LotaData, Inc., Lotame Solutions, Inc., Lucid Holdings, LLC, M32 Connect Inc, Madington, Madison Logic, Inc., MADVERTISE MEDIA, mainADV Srl, MAIRDUMONT NETLETIX GmbH&Co. KG, Marfeel Solutions S.L, Market Resource Partners LLC, Maximus Live LLC, Maytrics GmbH, mbr targeting GmbH, McCann Discipline LTD, Media.net Advertising FZ-LLC, MediaMath, Inc., mediarithmics SAS, Mediasmart Mobile S.L., Meetrics GmbH, MGID Inc., Mindlytix SAS, MiQ, Mirando GmbH & Co KG, MISSENA, mobalo GmbH, Mobfox US LLC, Mobile Journey B.V., Mobile Professionals BV, Mobilewalla, Inc., Mobsuccess, Mobusi Mobile Advertising S.L., My6sense Inc., Myntelligence Limited, N Technologies Inc., Nano Interactive GmbH, Nativo, Inc., Near Pte Ltd, Neodata Group srl, NEORY GmbH, Netsprint SA, NetSuccess, s.r.o., netzeffekt GmbH, NEURAL.ONE, Neustar on behalf of The Procter & Gamble Company, Neustar, Inc., News and Media Holding, a.s., NEXD, NextRoll, Inc., Nielsen Marketing Cloud, Norstat Danmark A/S, Noster Finance S.L., Notify, nugg.ad GmbH, numberly, Oath (EMEA) Limited, Ogury Ltd., On Device Research Limited, OneTag Ltd, Onfocus (Adagio), Online Solution Int Limited, Onnetwork Sp. z o.o., Ooyala Inc, OpenX, Opinary GmbH, Optomaton UG, Oracle, Oracle AddThis, Orion Semantics, ORTEC B.V., Otto (GmbH & Co KG), Outbrain UK Ltd, PaperG, Inc. dba Thunder Industries, Parsec Media Inc., Passendo ApS, Perform Media Services Ltd, Permodo GmbH, Permutive Ltd., Permutive Technologies, Inc., Pexi B.V., pilotx.tv, Pixalate, Inc., PIXIMEDIA SAS, Platform161, Playbuzz Ltd., PLAYGROUND XYZ EMEA LTD, plista GmbH, Pocketmath Pte Ltd, Polar Mobile Group Inc., PowerLinks Media Limited, Predicio, PREX Programmatic Exchange GmbH&Co KG, Programatica de publicidad S.L., Proxi.cloud Sp. z o.o., PROXISTORE, PUB OCEAN LIMITED, Publicis Media GmbH, Publishers Internationale Pty Ltd, PubMatic, Inc., PubNative GmbH, PulsePoint, Inc., Purch Group, Inc., PurposeLab, LLC, Qriously, Quantcast International Limited, Qwertize, R-Advertising, R-TARGET, Radio Net Media Limited, Rakuten Marketing LLC, Readpeak Oy, Realeyes OÜ, realzeit GmbH, ReigNN Platform Ltd., Relay42 Netherlands B.V., remerge GmbH, Research and Analysis of Media in Sweden AB, Research Now Group, Inc, Revcontent, LLC, Reveal Mobile, Inc, RevLifter Ltd, Rezonence Limited, RhythmOne, LLC, Rich Audience, RMSi Radio Marketing Service interactive GmbH, Rockabox Media Ltd, Rockerbox, Inc, RockYou, Inc., Roq.ad GmbH, RTB House S.A., RTK.IO, Inc, RUN, Inc., salesforce.com, inc., Samba TV UK Limited, Sanoma Media Finland, Scene Stealer Limited, Schibsted Norge AS, Schibsted Product and Tech UK, Seeding Alliance GmbH, Seedtag Advertising S.L, Seenthis AB, Sellpoints Inc., Semasio GmbH, Seznam.cz, a.s., ShareThis, Inc., Sharethrough, Inc, SheMedia, LLC, Shopalyst Inc, Shopstyle, ShowHeroes GmbH, Sift Media, Inc, Signal Digital Inc., Signals, Simplifi Holdings Inc., SINGLESPOT SAS, Sirdata, Sizmek, Skaze, Skimbit Ltd, SlimCut Media SAS, Smaato, Inc., Smadex SL, Smart Adserver, Smart Traffik, Smartclip Hispania SL, smartclip Holding AG, Smartme Analytics, Smartology Limited, SMARTSTREAM.TV GmbH, SmartyAds Inc., Smile Wanted Group, Snapsort Inc., operating as Sortable, Social Tokens Ltd., Sojern, Inc., Solocal, Somo Audience Corp, Sonobi, Inc, Soundcast, Sourcepoint Technologies, Inc., Sovrn Holdings Inc, Spolecznosci Sp. z o.o. Sp. k., Sportradar AG, Spot.IM Ltd., Spotad, SpotX, StackAdapt, StartApp Inc., Steel House, Inc., Ströer Mobile Performance GmbH, Ströer SSP GmbH, Sub2 Technologies Ltd, Sublime, SunMedia, Switch Concepts Limited, SYNC, TabMo SAS, Taboola Europe Limited, TACTIC™ Real-Time Marketing AS, Tapad, Inc., Tapjoy, Inc., TAPTAP Networks SL, TARGETSPOT BELGIUM SPRL, Teads, Tealium Inc, Teemo SA, Telaria, Inc, Telecoming S.A., Telefonica Investigación y Desarrollo S.A.U, Teroa S.A., The ADEX GmbH, The Kantar Group Limited, The MediaGrid Inc., The Ozone Project Limited, The Reach Group GmbH, The Rubicon Project, Inc., The Trade Desk, Think Clever Media, Thirdpresence Oy, Timehop, Inc., TimeOne, Totaljobs Group Ltd, Tradedoubler AB, Tradelab, SAS, TradeTracker, travel audience GmbH, TreSensa, Inc., Triapodi Ltd., Triboo Data Analytics, TripleLift, Inc., Triton Digital Canada Inc., TrueData Solutions, Inc., Tunnl BV, Turbo, twiago GmbH, UberMedia, Inc., ucfunnel Co., Ltd., Underdog Media LLC, Unruly Group Ltd, uppr GmbH, Uprival LLC, usemax advertisement (Emego GmbH), Vdopia DBA Chocolate Platform, Ve Global, VECTAURY, Venatus Media Limited, Vibrant Media Limited, video intelligence AG, Video Media Groep B.V., Video Reach, Vidoomy Media SL, ViewPay, Viralize SRL, Visarity Technologies GmbH, Vuble, WebAds B.V, Webedia, WebMediaRM, WEBORAMA, Welect GmbH, WhatRocks Inc., Whenever Media Ltd, White Ops, Inc., Widespace AB, Wizaly, X-Mode Social, Inc., xAd, Inc. dba GroundTruth, YellowHammer Media Group, Yieldlab AG, Yieldlove GmbH, Yieldmo, Inc., Yieldr UK, YOC AG, Yormedia Solutions Ltd, ZBO Media, Zemanta, Inc., zeotap GmbH, Zeta Global, Ziff Davis LLC, ZighZag

Most of these companies make their money by getting you to look at advertisements. Most of them will happily share your data with anyone who has two coppers to rub together. Many of these companies use your data without your permission, and many times if you share your location with one website, you’re sharing it with countless others.

The conclusion in today’s world is unavoidable. Even if we are paying for the service, we are essentially the product.

They know what we’re watching. They know what we like. They know where we are. We cannot escape.

The drums. The drums in the deep. They are coming…¹

The Old Wolf has Spoken


¹ This is a bit of sensationalistic hyperbole, in case you weren’t sure. Most people who use the Internet are aware that their browsing habits are being tracked so that companies can serve them ads that are more likely to generate sales. But the more I think about it, the more disturbing it does become; the concept of “privacy” on the web is essentially a non-entity. If you want privacy, get off the Internet altogether.

BYTE Magazine: The April Fool Articles

Cross-posted from Livejournal

It was traditional for BYTE magazine to include one bogus article in their “What’s New” section each year in the April edition. Here are two years’ worth that I archived in my “what the Hell” file. They’re interesting not only because of the gag, but to see what was actually considered new in those years. Ah, history… see if you can spot the bogus articles.


1981
1982

It’s interesting to walk down memory lane and see how far technology has come for real in the last 4 decades.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Scammers Keep Trying

Image result for sextortion

I don’t get much spam these days with Gmail, their filters are pretty good at sifting out the chaff. But I still have an account with another provider that lets a few things through.

The first one I saw this week was the old “Nigerian Prince” ploy, it amazes me that people are still trying this one.

Hello

I am contacting you to see if we can make a business together, My names are  Suvo  sarkar the Chief Executive Director of Emirates NBD  in United Arab Emirate  U.A.E. I discovered a dormant account with a holding balance of US$63M in the bank where I am working in United Arab Emirate U.A.E, Actually I do not have to involve myself officially because of my job and position in the bank, but I know what will be required to release the fund to you as I will present you as next of kin to the inheritance. I know all about the depositor who has passed away leaving no beneficiary to the account he deposited the funds.

Please get back to indicate your interest so I can give you the full details of the transaction for us to commence immediately.

Best regards,
Suvo Sarka

 

By now, everyone should know about this kind of thing – but just in case, this is 100% pure bull manure – there’s no money, you’re  not next of kin, and if you respond, there will be “taxes,” “fees,” “bribes,” “administrative stamps,” and other things to be paid until you run out of money, time, or patience.

These people are criminals, thieves, bad actors with no conscience and no morals. Many of them justify their theft by saying to themselves, “The White Man plundered our country, it’s only fair to take their money.” Others are just evil men with no conscience. Do not interact with them.


The second scam, commonly known as “sextortion,” was more interesting, I had not seen one of these before.

From: nightmarе <bogus_email@phoney.com>
To: <redacted>
Subject: You are my viсtim.

Hi, my prey.

THIS IS MY LAST WARNING!

I write you because I put a virus on the web page with pornography which you have viewed.
My trоjan caрtured аll your рrivate dаta аnd switсhed on yоur сamеrа whiсh rеcordеd thе act оf yоur solitаry sex. Just аfter thаt thе trоjаn saved your contact list.
I will erаsе thе cоmрrоmising videо rесords аnd informаtiоn if you send me 750 USD in bitcoin.
This is address fоr pаymеnt : 1PLtH8HPHQLboeFvrBN2XJPJz99TxayGCo
I give you 30 hours after yоu opеn my mеssаgе fоr making thе payment.
Аs sоon аs you reаd thе mеssаgе I’ll sеe it right аwаy.
It is nоt nесessаry to tell me that yоu hаvе sеnt mоney to mе. This аddress is connectеd to yоu, my systеm will еrased autоmаticаlly after transfer соnfirmatiоn.
If you nеed 48h just Opеn thе calculatоr on yоur desktор and press +++
If yоu don’t раy, I’ll send dirt tо all your contасts.
Let me remind you-I sеe what you’re dоing!
Yоu cаn visit thе policе officе but anybody cаn’t help you.
If yоu try to dеceivе me , I’ll know it immediately!
I dоn’t live in your cоuntry. So аnyоnе cаn not trаck my lосаtion еvеn fоr 9 mоnths.
byе. Don’t fоrgеt аbоut the shame and tо ignorе, Your lifе сan be ruined.

First:

This is sheer nonsense, blasted out to all and sundry with harvested or leaked emails in the hopes of catching a scared victim. Because some people do visit adult sites, and some people do have webcams, and it is possible for hackers to access these cameras remotely if people are foolish enough to download the appropriate malware.

Second:

  1. I don’t have a webcam, I don’t visit adult sites, and my computer is well-protected against malware, so all his noise about trojans and “compromising video records” are nothing but lies.
  2. Opening a calculator app and pressing “+++” could not possibly interact with an email program to let a scammer know that I needed 48 hours instead of 30 to send him his blackmail money.
  3. You can go to https://bitcoinwhoswho.com/ and look up bitcoin addresses like the one the scammer lists above. According to the report generated, this particular address has been reported multiple times for fraudulent activity, always the same sextortion scam but often with varying messages

Here’s another example, just for reference:

From: “Anonymous Hacker – Ma” ma-897@d.anonymous-observer.tk
To: [redacted]
Subject: This is my last warning [redacted]

LAST WARNING [redacted]

You have the last chance to save your social life – I am not kidding!!
I give you the last 72 hours to make the payment before I send the video with your [indecent activity] to all your friends and associates.
The last time you visited a erotic website with young Teens, you downloaded and installed the software I developed.
My program has turned on your camera and recorded your [indecent activity] and the video you were watching.
My software also downloaded all your email contact lists and a list of your Facebook friends.
I have both the ‘Info.mp4’ with your [indecent activity] and a file with all your contacts on my hard drive. You are very perverted!
If you want me to delete both files and keep your secret,you must send me Bitcoin payment. I give you the last 72 hours. If you don’t know how to send Bitcoins, visit Google.
Send 2000 USD to this Bitcoin address immediately:
32u7BDdEb48LXNTDDTe9q9Nce5Z9QAJG1g (copy and paste)
1 BTC = 3470 USD right now, so send exactly 0.588241 BTC to the address above.
Do not try to cheat me! As soon as you open this Email I will know you opened it.
This Bitcoin address is linked to you only, so I will know if you sent the correct amount. When you pay in full, I will remove both files and deactivate my software.
If you don’t send the payment, I will send your [perverted] video to ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES from your contact list I hacked.
Here are the payment details again:
Send 0.588241 BTC to this Bitcoin address:
32u7BDdEb48LXNTDDTe9q9Nce5Z9QAJG1g
You can visit the police but nobody will help you. I know what I am doing. I don’t live in your country and I know how to stay anonymous.
Don’t try to deceive me – I will know it immediately – my spy ware is recording all the websites you visit and all keys you press.
If you do – I will send this ugly recording to everyone you know, including your family.
Don’t cheat me! Don’t forget the shame and if you ignore this message your life will be ruined.
I am waiting for your Bitcoin payment.
Ma
Anonymous Hacker

P.S. If you need more time to buy and send 0.588241 BTC, open your notepad and write ’48h plz’.
I will consider giving you another 48 hours before I release the vid, but only when I really see you are struggling to buy bitcoin.

And one more:

From: nightmarе
To: [redacted]
Subject: You are my victim.

Good day

Dо nоt mind оn my illitеrасy, I am frоm China.

I uрlоаdеd thе mаliciоus рrоgram on your systеm.
Sinсе thаt mоment I рilfеrеd аll рrivy bасkgrоund frоm yоur systеm. Аdditiоnally I have somе morе соmрromising evidеnсе. The mоst intеrеsting еvidenсе thаt I stоlе- its а videоtаpе with your [indecent activity]. I аdjustеd virus оn а роrn web sitе аnd аftеr yоu lоadеd it. Whеn yоu dесidеd with thе vidеo аnd tарpеd on a рlаy buttоn, my dеlеtеriоus sоft at оncе sеt up on your systеm. Аfter adjusting, yоur саmerа shoоt thе vidеоtаpе with your [indecent activity], in аdditiоn it saved рreсisеly thе рorn vidеo yоu were watching. In nеxt fеw dаys my mаlwаre cоllесtеd аll your sociаl and wоrk сontaсts.
If yоu wаnt tо dеlеtе thе recоrds- pay mе 340 еuro in BTC(сryрtосurrenсy).
I provide you my Btc number – 1JRMsH8xnm2Uk3XZQfS63woi4uFyM2gBLC
Yоu hаvе 24 hours after rеаding. Whеn I gеt trаnsfer I will dеstrоy the videotaрe еvermоrе.
If you need 50 hours just Open the calculator on your desktop and press +++
Оther way I will send thе tаpе to аll yоur cоlleaguеs and friеnds.

Again, these messages are sheer nonsense, but might well frighten some people into paying. The criminals who are perpetrating these scams are very evil. Never respond to them, never send any money to them.


Ransomware that encrypts your data is a different kind of beast, and it is more prevalent, and easier to be affected by even if you don’t visit infected websites. Don’t open attachments from unknown senders, regardless of how innocent or official they may look. Verify first.

This is an example of a ransomware scam:

From: “Troy Almaguer” <bogusmail@bitbucket.com>
Subject: Wire Transfer
To: <redacted>

Did you authorize a wire transfer to our accounts?
We have acquired a sum of USD $2000,00 from your bank account and we do not understand what the funds are for.
We do not have any purchases with your firm that we know about. So why are you generating settlements to us?
Please see the attached remittance files and double check with your corporation and bank.
Password is 1234


[Attached Document with clickable link]

It looks really official, and an administrator, or assistant, or secretary might be easily fooled into clicking on that innocent-looking attachment. Don’t ever do it, you’ll likely end up with all your data encrypted and no way to get it back unless you have robust backups.

There are a lot of scumbags out there. Be careful, practice safe computing, and don’t let the criminals win.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Microsoft “no help” forums

Back in the early days of desktop computing, when WordPerfect was still the king of the hill in word processing, they had a Customer Support number. You’d call up, get in queue, and listen to a real-live “hold jockey” spin tunes, provide information about the software, tell you where you were in line, about how long it would take for your turn to come up, and then connect you to a helpful, qualified, American technician who would help you solve your problem. It was almost like being able to say “shibboleet.”

But ever since the early days of Microsoft, and I’ve been there since the beginning, getting any real help from them has been an exercise in futility. There’s an old, old joke about Microsoft’s technical support, and it goes like this:

A helicopter was flying around above Seattle when an electrical malfunction disabled all of the aircraft’s electronic navigation and communications qquipment. Due to the clouds and haze, the pilot could not determine the helicopter’s position and course to fly to the airport. The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it in the helicopter’s window. The pilot’s sign said “WHERE AM I?” in large letters. People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign and held it in a building window. Their sign read: “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER.” The pilot smiled, waved, looked at her map, determined the course to steer to SEATAC airport, and landed safely. After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the “YOU ARE IN A HELICOPTER” sign helped determine their position. The pilot responded “I knew that had to be the Microsoft building because, like their technical support, online help and product documentation, the response they gave me was technically correct, but completely useless.”

Sadly, things have gone downhill from there. These days, responses are not even technically correct. Some time ago we “upgraded” to Windows 10 – and those scare quotes are there for a reason – and my wife lost her old suite of games that used to come standard with the operating system, like Solitaire.

Here’s an example taken from a real live Microsoft Community page; I came across this issue today when I had the same question and was looking for help. Of course, it should be noted in passing that to ask questions or provide responses on any of these fora you need a Microsoft account.

The question posted was:

SOLITAIRE ON WIN10 – HOW TO GET RID OF XBOX SIGN-IN

I’ve downloaded Microsoft Solitaire Collection for Windows 10.

When I want to play a game, it presents me with a sign-in screen for xbox live.

I don’t want to sign in to xbox Live and have to go through several steps to get rid of the login screen and play as a guest every time I select Solitaire. How can I get it to stop asking me to sign in?


And here is the “featured response” from Microsoft Representative 
Syed Abdul Jabbar:

Hi [Name],

Thank you for posting the query on Microsoft Community. I am sorry to know that you are facing issues with Windows 10. Do not worry, will assist you with the issue.

If you’re looking for help with audiovideo and hardware driver issues while playing a game on Windows 10, you’re in the right place. 

For anything gaming or Xbox related, head over to the Xbox Forums& they’ll take care of you.

In future, if you have any issues related to Windows, do get back to us. We will be happy to assist you.

By the desiccated skull of Mogg’s grandfather, it’s like the responder (who supposedly represents Microsoft):

a) didn’t even bother to read the question, or
b) doesn’t speak English, or
c) is a bot, or
d) all of the above.

Many of the frustrated follow-up comments point out just how useless this response is, and my experience of Microsoft Community answers is almost uniformly like this. Either the answer is painfully useless, or the solution offered is so complex as to be incomprehensible by the average computer user. If I were the CEO of Microsoft I would be mortified to my very bones if I allowed this to be my customers’ experience. There is only one possible explanation:

Microsoft doesn’t care.

And they haven’t cared since day 1. They’re the biggest shark in the pond, and even though Windows’ market share has declined over the last 5 years from roughly 91% to 88%, they pretty much have the world by the short hairs and they know it, so there’s no sense in expending any resources on helping their customers have a useful, satisfactory experience with their product.

That’s not to say that there isn’t help on the internet – you’re just much less likely to find the answer you’re looking for on a Microsoft forum than in other places. As it turns out, in this case there’s no way to use the Microsoft Solitare Game Pack without an XBox Live gamertag, and the only solution is to head for the app store and find a free app that does the trick. Sadly, most free applications include ads, but at least I can avoid the ones that push you to make in-app purchases.

I think Microsoft made a bad move when they stopped including Solitaire, Minesweeper, and other games as integral parts of the operating system. As we’ve all seen, that’s hardly the only bad move they’ve made – think Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows Vista, and others – but I can’t ever envision a time when they ever start paying the price for their insouciance.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Incredible Shrinking Data Storage

In the beginning was paper.

4.5 megs data in 62500 punch cards, 1955

4.5 megabytes of data in 62500 punch cards, 1955

tlqSeko6BlUABWIUP9FF8PMPVZdOBb4udh_gebTaRW8

132 MB on floppies on the right. 128 GB flash drive on the left.

gates

“This CD-ROM can hold more information than all the paper that’s here below me”
– Bill Gates,1994

1024px-8_bytes_vs._8Gbytes

8 GB memory resting on 64 magnetic cores that hold 8 bytes.

post-4828-0-70084000-1404521894

10 years = 3 orders of magnitude.

Kingston™ is now planning to release a HyperX 1 TB thumb drive.

Where do we go from here? Science is playing with SMMs (Single Molecule Magnets) and SAMs (Single Atom Magnets.)

Are we on track to replicate “Ms Fnd in a Lbry“? Only time will tell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Domain Listings: Another Scam

For a while now, people have been receiving deceptive solicitations from a company called “Domain LIstings, PO Box 19607, Las Vegas, NV 89132-0607.” I got one just last week.

You can see the letter they send out below:

domain1domain2

The letter is designed to think that you have to pay to re-register your domain, but this outfit is nothing more than an American version of the “World Business List” – offering worthless services for an outrageous fee.

Please note that these bottom-feeders offer you virtually nothing that Google doesn’t do for free. Their “directory” will not give you a whit of exposure. They offer 24/7/365 exposure, which is exactly what you get when Google and the other search engines crawl your site.

Customer reviews at Yelp, just as an example.

If you get one of these letters, it’s not an invoice. Just throw it away, and stay away from these scum-eaters.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Alan Alda: Prognosticator

The following words were offered by Alan Alda in 2001, at the graduation of a friend’s daughter. Alda was referring to a piece written by a Chicago newspaper columnist named Mary Schmich, which was virally circulated on the Internet but erroneously attributed to Kurt Vonnegut.

And that’s what makes this Internet event a great image for the age in which we live. There are probably just as many lies going around now as ever before, but these days they’re traveling at the speed of light. There are just as many people who want to fool you into thinking they’ve got it all figured out for you, but now you don’t have nearly as much time to think it over.

And with the help of an engine for repetition that works on a scale unheard of in the past, the lies stick. People are still sending around the talk, thinking it was written by Vonnegut. I was sent a copy just last week.

It’s a delightful piece of writing. But if it’s presented as if it were by someone other than the person who wrote it, it steals that person’s good name and gives itself a certain credibility before it has a chance to earn it honestly. So, as good as it is, it’s a cheat. At least in the way it’s offered to us.

So, you may be thinking, big deal. It’s just a few good jokes. But think about it… It could be selling you anything. It could be a cult religion that could separate you from friends and family, or a quack medicine that could lead you paralyzed, or bogus political information that cause you to elect a numbskull to the presidency.

God forbid.¹

These are great words with regards to the internet and its impact on the dissemination of information – both genuine and bogus – but eerily prescient in view of the political developments of recent years. For what it’s worth, the entire book is a wonderful, human, and relevant read.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ Alan Alda, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself (New York: Random House, 2007), 121.

Never call 888-710-4402

If your computer running Chrome suddenly locks up and you get these display screens:

Scam1

Scam2do NOT under any circumstances call the number shown (888-710-4402). You’ll be connected to scammers in India who will tell you all sorts of incomprehensible things about your machine and ask you to let them connect with your computer.

Look at how bad the English is – practically incomprehensible. This is NOT the number for Microsoft Technical Support. These folks are liars, criminals, and all-round Very Bad People. Allow these drones to access your machine and you’re likely to end up with all your files encrypted by ransomware, or have your machine turned into part of a spamming robot network, or have your financial data stolen, or something equally insidious.

Kill Chrome using the Task Manager and re-launch. These exploits are usually encountered when malicious code is run from an ad somewhere on a page you visited, and is usually not the fault of the page itself.

Be safe out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

WOT: (Web of Trust) – A valuable extension

I’ve mentioned WOT in a number of my previous posts, but I thought I’d give it a bit more exposure, given the amount of scams, fake news websites, and general internet douchebaggery that is so prevalent right now.

Web of Trust is a FREE extension that adds a small circle after any clickable link on your computer to let you know how trustworthy that site is. Here’s an example – recently I was trying to remove a hijacker that redirected me to Spectrum’s search service when an unknown URL was encountered:

WOT

Notice that the circles can be green, yellow, and red – just like  stoplight. That’s your first clue – but it pays to drill down for more information as I mention below. Green is generally trustworthy, yellow is questionable, and red is downright dangerous. A gray circle with a question mark means there is no information (yet) about the site in question.

Some dangerous websites will be flagged by Google directly (Click image to enlarge)

Google1

If you have a paid version of Malwarebytes, known malware websites will be automatically blocked:
Malwarebytes

But if neither one of these help, WOT will give you a warning for red-circle links that looks like this (Click image to enlarge):

WOT1

You’ll notice that you get a summary of ratings and reasons why the website is not trusted.

In addition, search engine results can be previewed simply by hovering your mouse over the colored circle:

WOT2

and then you can follow the “click to view details” link to get a full page of information about the website.

WOT3

As with anything that is crowdsourced, one needs to be cautious. A tool like this could be used to give bad ratings to a website by an unethical competitor, so look at the dates of the reviews and get an overall feel for the page in question. In general, though, I’ve found that this tool tends to be self-correcting, so if one person rates a site untrustworthy for malware, and five other more recent users give reasons why it’s safe, I feel pretty confident that the first review is either spurious or outdated.

If you want to rate websites yourself, you can create a free account, log in, and provide details of your experience.

In addition to protecting you from viruses or other malware, WOT can be very useful for verifying whether news sites are reliable or not.

An example: Today on Facebook I saw a link to a story that there was a second shooter in Las Vegas:

Facebook

That yellow circle told me right off that this story is questionable. Hovering over the warning gave me this:

WOT4

And a subsequent search on Google for yournewswire.com confirmed that this is a notorious clickbait, inflammatory, fake-news website:

Founded by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway in 2014. It has published fake stories, such as “claims that the Queen had threatened to abdicate if the UK voted against Brexit” (Wikipedia)

It pays to be safe, and it pays to be careful. This little extension works well with Window 10 and earlier versions (I’ve tried it on XP and 7 both), it’s free, and it provides a wealth of information about internet dangers. I highly recommend it.

The Old Wolf has spoken.