The “Blog Follower” Bots are Still Busy

Yesterday I posted an article about affiliate marketing and the underhanded, despicable lies they use in their come-on websites to hook gullible people into buying worthless products.

Surprisingly, this post attracted a flurry of new followers:

  • Online Health Offers
  • Net Millionaire Dudes
  • Online Arts Marketing
  • Digital Tools For You
  • Motivated to Lose Weight
  • Marketing Trends Secrets
  • Digital Marketing Blog Updates
  • Set Up Multiple Income Streams
  • Create Your Own Lifestyle Online Business
  • Three “empty” blogs
  • Marketer’s Handbook
  • Lose Fat in 21 Days
  • … and three empty blogs, placeholders for who knows what.

Clearly the keywords that triggered this inrush were “Marketing” and “Weight Loss.” Now, I’d like to think that all of these “fine people” were interested in what I have to say, but every single one of these was clearly out to promote their own product/scheme/system/scam, take your choice.

For what it’s worth, all of these were deleted this morning, just on general principles, but I have one very persistent follower, a cryptocurrency hawker, who came back five times before he finally gave up.

I can only assume that they think the more blogs they follow, the greater the likelihood that others will follow them automatically. In the case of WordPress, every time someone follows my blog, I get an email like this:

[Blogger] just started following you at http://playingintheworldgame.com. They will receive an email every time you publish a post. Congratulations.

You might want to go see what they’re up to! Perhaps you will like their blog as much as they liked yours!

The fact that WordPress tacitly enables this behavior ¹ is a bit disappointing, but in a perfect world where there were no spammers, it would not be a bad thing. I wouldn’t mind at all if like-minded individuals followed my blog or liked my posts, and I would be more inclined to go see what they had to say about relevant topics. Sadly, the vast majority of my current 1,578 followers never interact with my posts, so I can only assume they are – if not outright fakes – simply promoting their own schemes.

Fortunately, I’m not writing this blog for the purpose of making money, so I really don’t lose any sleep over how many people follow me; a lot of my posts are a form of public service announcement, placed out there so that people who are investigating potential scams can be warned and save their money. If people find me, and occasionally they do, then I’m satisfied.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ The referenced article is 7 years old, but interestingly still entirely relevant. WordPress is a good platform, but they obviously have to monetize, and also have to live in a world where less-than-reputable people will do whatever it takes to increase their own exposure. It’s an ongoing conundrum.

The scammers are getting desperate

A friend of mine in Finland just got one of these, it falls into the same category as the sextortion scam about which I have already written: desperate bad guys blasting out millions of emails to the entire world, hoping to catch the handful of people who *do* visit adult sites, have unsecured webcams, a guilty conscience, and very little education.

In this case, they’re hoping to snare the fearful and gullible segment of the world’s populace. It astonishes me that people could be so foolish as to fall for these kinds of scams, but if it didn’t work at some level, the bad guys wouldn’t do it.

But the takeaway here is the same as always: This is a scam, there’s no truth to it, and you should never send money to criminals. Please keep your loved ones, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, educated and protected.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Text spammers know what we think about them.

Received in my text inbox yesterday from 201-429-3058 (almost certainly spoofed).

Reply YES for Web-page link. See Visual proof and exact blueprint for generating $13K per/month, in 45 to 90 day. Guaranteed! A rated-BBB

My response: Anatomically impossible suggestion.

Instant reply: Okay, I am deleting you from my contacts at your request. You will not be getting anymore messages. Sorry to disturb you.

Whoever is blasting spam get-rich-quick messages to the world must have a database of possible negative responses, including the one I sent. Clearly, it was expected. Clearly, he doesn’t care.

Screenshot_2018-10-11-11-48-08

The “A rated-BBB” cracked me up. As if the Better Business Bureau would give a scummy pyramid scheme a good rating.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

No, I didn’t ask to cancel my Gmail account

Scammers

Subject: Request to Terminate Your account has been accepted
From: AccountUpdate qAvmWq4@zbikfv.uk via physics.metu.edu.tr
Date: Apr 26 (10 days ago)
to _To: millions of people

Dear Gmail Customer,

You submitted a request to terminate your Gmail mail account and the process has started by our Gmail mail Team, Please give us 3 working days to close your mail account.

To cancel the termination request reply to this mail.

All files on your Gmail mail including (Inbox, Sent, Spam, Trash, Draft) will be deleted and access to your Gmail mail account will be Denied.

If you wish to Terminate your Email Address, you can Sign Up for a new Gmail mail account.

For further help please contact by replying to this mail.

Regards,
Gmail! Account Services

Please watch out for emails like this. No, I didn’t ask for my Gmail account to be terminated, and neither did you.

If you respond to the email, you will be confirming that you are a live sucker to these people:

reply@positndor.net,
replyme@pinewbrokers.net,
reply@raintrature.com,
hello@cestaticket.com.ve,
peru@minedu.gob.pe,
marco@geturoffrsnw.win,
admin@betterwithfn.com,
comm@edukouvola.fi,
notice@myegy.com

And it’s a penny to a quid that every one of them is a scammer who will do their best to get your personal information or your money.

How do you know this message is not from Gmail? It was sent from The Gmail! account team (Gmail doesn’t use a “!” in their name like “Yahoo!” does. In addition to that, the return address is:

AccountUpdate qAvmWq4@zbikfv.uk via physics.metu.edu.tr

A double redirect, one from the UK and one from Turkey. No, Virginia, that’s not Gmail.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Don’t reply to spam. Ever.

This should go without saying, but I just thought I’d point out one of many reasons why you should never respond to spam messages.

spam

(We wanted to let you know that we noticed that you still did not claim your $200 Amazon-shopping bonus that was gifted to you as a thank you for your business in past.
Please be sure to claim this before Aug 25
But Hurry! This Ends on Aug 25!
Please Go Here Now to Claim Your $200 Amazon-Shopping Bonus)

Click on the “Claim Your Bonus” link and your email program will generate a message to the following addresses:

  • info@delopment.net
  • sports@southeoffice.com,
  • mailtech@provintimate.net
  • reply@republck.com
  • info@templervices.net

Whatever message you send, such as “Ooh yes I want my bonus” or whatever, you have just given a live email address to five spammers/criminals/scammers or Mogg knows what, with a loud additional shout: “I am a sucker! Please Scam Me!”

Just don’t. Never respond to anything in your Spam box, and if you get email from people you have never done business with, delete it at once.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

WordPress users, please use strong passwords

Just got phishing spam from bad guys pretending to the Bank of Ireland. Here’s the email:

Bank of Ireland Phishing

If you are fooled into clicking the link, you are redirected to:

http://personalbanking.bankofireland.obfusticated.com/ie/ie/authentication.html?e1s1

The “obfusticated” prevents anyone from actually going to the bad site, and protects the wordpress user whose website (“obfusticated.com”) has been compromised. For what it’s worth, I’ve done my best to warn the individual involved that there is a problem at their website.

The gateway page is below. It looks very official, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a fake.

Bank of Ireland Phishing 2

Then you get to give the criminals your login PIN:

Bank of Ireland Phishing 3

The malicious code appears to fail the first time and makes you re-enter the data. It doesn’t matter what you put in the second time, you’ll advance to the next page:

Bank of Ireland Phishing 4

Please be aware: BANKS WILL NEVER DO THIS. NEVER GIVE OUT SENSITIVE INFORMATION BY EMAIL OR ON THE WEB.

Next you are asked to hand the criminals your credit card password.

Bank of Ireland Phishing 5

Once they have your data – or in my case, a whole raft of obscenities – you are redirected to the real Bank of Ireland website.

If you have a WordPress blog (or any other website) please make sure you are using strong passwords. If bad guys get in, they can park malicious code in your web space and direct their victims there, not to mention steal whatever valuable data is there.

Never give out sensitive financial information over the web. If you suspect your accounts have truly been compromised or locked, call your bank directly and ask for verification.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Dear Google News, what the hqiz is this?

I’m used to seeing all sorts of spam and junk ads on the internet – not so much since I have ad blockers at work for me, but a lot of the ads on pages are served up in ways that ad blockers don’t identify them as such.

But when I go to Google News, I expect news articles and not clickbait, bayesian-filtered camel ejecta.

Here’s my news feed this morning (click the image for a larger view):

health

Look at the last five items. Obviously computer-generated text with garbage descriptions designed to thwart bayesian filtering. These are not even tagged as obvious advertisements as they should be.

Even though the “sources” show “The Boyne City Gazette” and “The Inland Empire News,” each link takes you via multiple redirects to “topcanadiandrugs24rx,” a scummy outfit probably operating out of India or Eastern Europe.

canada

Click on the “Real Time Coverage” button for the “story” and this is what you get:

realtime

Come on, Google – you can do better than that.

The Old Wolf has Spoken.