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.

A new twist on blog spam

 

I’ve written about blog spam before, a particularly underhanded and sleazy way of driving traffic to another website by flooding others with comments which contain backlinks or IP addresses.

The following chain of comments (unedited) appeared at various posts two days ago; it took me a minute or two to figure out what was going on, wondering if someone was really getting ad-based notices from my blog.

“you advise me to come to thjs site to unsubscribe, yet all i see are ads for your company which is wich you tell me”
“unsubscribe me thank you i am not interested”
“for the third time i an not interseted please do not send me any more blogs”
“not in the least bit interested, thank you”
“stop sendind me ads”

These all came on a single day within 6 minutes of each other, with a name (Salvatore Monda), an email address, and an IP address attached. It’s the IP address that provides the basis for raising search-engine rankings for spurious websites – aside from the fact that this tactic rarely works any longer, Google and others having factored it in to their search algorithms. Yet somehow, devious and stupid people keep trying.

I checked out the IP address – it appears to be defunct already, meaning someone has shut it down before anyone could be driven to it for whatever purposes – advertising, malware, who knows what. Akismet does a good job at filtering out most blog spam, but these look legitimate enough that they slipped through. Fortunately, I get to approve (or trash) comments at this blog before they go live – which I have done.

Salvatore Monda, this one’s for you.*

No Because No

The Old Wolf has spoken.

How Blog Spam is Generated

I’ve talked about blog spam a lot, because I get a lot of it here. Akismet takes most of the pain away automatically, for which I love them, but the occasional piece of camel ejecta filters through which I must designate as spam manually.

I happened to browse the comments on another blog post today, and I found the following script core, posted by a less-than-careful blog spammer. Something went wrong, and instead of delivering a single randomized comment, the entire database was posted. I thought this was interesting, because I have received/seen pieces of this script in my own blog and many others.

I’m sharing it because I thought you might find it interesting as well.

{
{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view},
if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web
owners} and bloggers made good content as you
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ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.
{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
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{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know}
{so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.
Thanks.|
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{could|can} write next articles referring to this article.
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its really really {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}
{article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} on building up new {blog|weblog|webpage|website|web site}.|
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{Saved as a favorite|bookmarked!!}, {I really like|I like|I love} {your blog|your site|your web site|your website}!|
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{Superb|Exceptional|Outstanding|Excellent} Blog!|
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{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you
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{Terrific|Wonderful|Great|Fantastic|Outstanding|Exceptional|Superb|Excellent} blog and {wonderful|terrific|brilliant|amazing|great|excellent|fantastic|outstanding|superb}
{style and design|design and style|design}.|
{I love|I really like|I enjoy|I like|Everyone loves} what you guys {are|are
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{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Hey} would
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{Thanks a lot|Kudos|Cheers|Thank you|Many thanks|Thanks}, I appreciate it!|
{I love|I really like|I like|Everyone loves} it {when people|when individuals|when folks|whenever people} {come
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Great {blog|website|site}, {keep it up|continue the good work|stick with it}!|
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It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to
{far|more} added agreeable from you! {By the way|However}, how {can|could} we communicate?|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wanted to give
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{Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}|
This is a topic {that is|that’s|which is} {close to|near to} my heart…
{Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take care|Thank you}!
{Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?|
It’s very {easy|simple|trouble-free|straightforward|effortless} to find out
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Either way, great {site|website|blog} and I look forward to seeing it {develop|improve|expand|grow} over time.|
{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your {site|web site|website|weblog|blog} for {a long time|a while|some time}
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{I’ll|I will} {definitely|certainly} be back.|
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{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hello}, i read your blog
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If so how do you {prevent|reduce|stop|protect against}
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{I really|I truly|I seriously|I absolutely} love {your blog|your
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{know|learn|find out} where you got this from or {what the|exactly what
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{Thanks|Many thanks|Thank you|Cheers|Appreciate it|Kudos}!|
{Hi there|Hello there|Howdy}! This {post|article|blog post} {couldn’t|could
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{Pretty sure|Fairly certain} {he will|he’ll|he’s going to} {have
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{Other than that|Apart from that|Besides that|Aside from that}, {fantastic|wonderful|great|excellent}
{blog|website|site}!|
{A person|Someone|Somebody} {necessarily|essentially} {lend a hand|help|assist} to make {seriously|critically|significantly|severely} {articles|posts} {I
would|I might|I’d} state. {This is|That is} the {first|very first} time I frequented your
{web page|website page} and {to this point|so far|thus far|up to now}?
I {amazed|surprised} with the {research|analysis} you made to {create|make} {this actual|this particular} {post|submit|publish|put up} {incredible|amazing|extraordinary}.
{Great|Wonderful|Fantastic|Magnificent|Excellent} {task|process|activity|job}!|
Heya {i’m|i am} for {the primary|the first} time here. I {came
across|found} this board and I {in finding|find|to find} It {truly|really} {useful|helpful} & it helped me out
{a lot|much}. {I am hoping|I hope|I’m hoping} {to give|to offer|to provide|to present} {something|one thing} {back|again} and {help|aid} others {like you|such as you} {helped|aided} me.|
{Hello|Hi|Hello there|Hi there|Howdy|Good day|Hey there}!
{I just|I simply} {would like to|want to|wish to} {give you a|offer you a} {huge|big} thumbs up {for the|for your} {great|excellent} {info|information} {you have|you’ve got|you have got} {here|right here} on this post.
{I will be|I’ll be|I am} {coming back to|returning to} {your blog|your site|your website|your web site}
for more soon.|
I {always|all the time|every time} used to {read|study} {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} in news papers but now as
I am a user of {internet|web|net} {so|thus|therefore} from now I am using net for {articles|posts|articles or reviews|content}, thanks to web.|
Your {way|method|means|mode} of {describing|explaining|telling} {everything|all|the whole thing}
in this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} is {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}, {all|every one} {can|be able
to|be capable of} {easily|without difficulty|effortlessly|simply}
{understand|know|be aware of} it, Thanks a lot.|
{Hi|Hello} there, {I found|I discovered} your {blog|website|web site|site} {by means of|via|by the use of|by way of} Google {at the same time as|whilst|even as|while}
{searching for|looking for} a {similar|comparable|related} {topic|matter|subject},
your {site|web site|website} {got here|came} up, it {looks|appears|seems|seems to
be|appears to be like} {good|great}. {I have|I’ve} bookmarked it in
my google bookmarks.
{Hello|Hi} there, {simply|just} {turned into|became|was|become|changed into} {aware of|alert
to} your {blog|weblog} {thru|through|via} Google, {and found|and located} that {it is|it’s} {really|truly}
informative. {I’m|I am} {gonna|going to} {watch out|be careful} for
brussels. {I will|I’ll} {appreciate|be grateful} {if
you|should you|when you|in the event you|in case you|for
those who|if you happen to} {continue|proceed} this {in future}.
{A lot of|Lots of|Many|Numerous} {other folks|folks|other people|people} {will be|shall be|might be|will probably
be|can be|will likely be} benefited {from your|out of your} writing.
Cheers!|
{I am|I’m} curious to find out what blog {system|platform} {you
have been|you happen to be|you are|you’re} {working with|utilizing|using}?
I’m {experiencing|having} some {minor|small} security {problems|issues} with my latest {site|website|blog}
and {I would|I’d} like to find something more {safe|risk-free|safeguarded|secure}.
Do you have any {solutions|suggestions|recommendations}?|
{I am|I’m} {extremely|really} impressed with your writing skills {and also|as
well as} with the layout on your {blog|weblog}. Is this a paid theme or did you {customize|modify} it yourself?
{Either way|Anyway} keep up the {nice|excellent} quality writing, {it’s|it is} rare to see a {nice|great} blog like this one {these days|nowadays|today}.|
{I am|I’m} {extremely|really} {inspired|impressed} {with your|together with your|along with your} writing {talents|skills|abilities} {and also|as {smartly|well|neatly} as} with the
{layout|format|structure} {for your|on your|in your|to your} {blog|weblog}.
{Is this|Is that this} a paid {subject|topic|subject matter|theme}
or did you {customize|modify} it {yourself|your self}? {Either way|Anyway}
{stay|keep} up the {nice|excellent} {quality|high quality} writing, {it’s|it
is} {rare|uncommon} {to peer|to see|to look} a {nice|great} {blog|weblog} like this one {these days|nowadays|today}..|
{Hi|Hello}, Neat post. {There is|There’s} {a problem|an issue} {with your|together with your|along with your} {site|web site|website} in {internet|web}
explorer, {may|might|could|would} {check|test} this? IE {still|nonetheless}
is the {marketplace|market} {leader|chief} and {a large|a good|a big|a huge} {part of|section of|component to|portion of|component of|element of} {other folks|folks|other
people|people} will {leave out|omit|miss|pass over} your
{great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|excellent} writing
{due to|because of} this problem.|
{I’m|I am} not sure where {you are|you’re} getting your
{info|information}, but {good|great} topic.
I needs to spend some time learning {more|much more} or
understanding more. Thanks for {great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|excellent} {information|info} I was looking for this {information|info} for my mission.|
{Hi|Hello}, i think that i saw you visited my {blog|weblog|website|web site|site} {so|thus} i came to
“return the favor”.{I am|I’m} {trying to|attempting
to} find things to {improve|enhance} my {website|site|web site}!I suppose its ok to
use {some of|a few of} your ideas!!\

As you can see, the script is designed to leave randomized comments in other people’s blogs, usually with an embedded backlink to improve (supposedly) one’s own search results at Google or Yahoo or Bing or other search engine services.

The mouldy camel droppings that do this need to find a different planet to live on, if you ask me.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Avoid businesses that blog spam

“I am genuinely thankful to the holder of this website who has shared this fantastic article at here.”

Look at that great grammar. So commented “Bad Credit Car Finance,” an outfit in Orlando, Florida, which has a raft of videos on YouTube hawking their services. That in itself is not a bad thing, but blog spamming is the mark of an unethical and/or outright criminal enterprise. As I’ve written about before, this is a scummy tactic used by shadowy enterprises the world over.

A few years ago I set up a bulletin board that never really saw a lot of use, and then I forgot about it until last month when Google kindly gave me a heads-up that it was infested with user spam. There were over 75,000 spam comments from automatically-generated “user” bots, most of them for knockoff goods and penis enlargement products, porn, dating services, and anything else disreputable that your imagination could come up with. A quick perusal was enough to verify an already-known fact: If someone is leaving spam comments on your blog (or someone else’s), that person or business has neither ethics nor morals, and should be avoided like the plague.

junk

It’s worth mentioning that Joe Oliver, the man who apparently runs this outfit, has a talent for making the most hideously poor-quality advertising videos I’ve seen in a long time. That in itself is worth some sort of “razzie.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Progressive Insurance Company: Run away, run away fast.

scam-alerts2

Aside from complaint pages like you see behind the link, Progressive has now totally destroyed any semblance of reputability by posting blog spam, one of which I just received.

I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you coud a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

This is typical of the kinds of camel ejecta that blog spammers send out. They try to make it look as legitimate as possible and usually include mis-spellings and bad grammar, but they include links to their website and use a bogus email address and user name, in the hopes of creating backlinks to their website, thus boosting their page rankings in search engines. There are even unethical businesspeople out there who teach others that this is a valid way of increasing your SEO rankings, which I think is disgraceful.

Stay away from any business that does this. It will not serve you to have unethical enterprises in your circle of influence.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

An open letter to a blog spammer.

Internet Theft

Thanks to antifraudnews for the image.

I’ve commented multiple times on the kinds of spam comments that appear in this blog on a regular basis. I just got another comment from one of my “regulars.”

Hmm it seemjs like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying yur blog. I as well am aan aspiring blog writer buut I’m still new to everything. Do you havbe any points for inexperienced blogg writers? I’d certainly appreciatge it.

Here’s my response, which (s)he will most likely never see, since these comments are blasted out by bots, but regardless:


Dear Sir or Madam,

Your previous comment was filtered to my spam box by Akismet, may its name be ever praised (over 127 billion spam messages deleted). I deleted your message with great satisfaction. I empty my spam regularly, just to make sure there’s no trace of you, your spoofed email address, or the embedded link to your scummy product or illegitimate service. Whoever you are, you represent the lowest kind of human scum; you are filth, and beneath the dignity of notice.

I’m not interested in garcinia cambogia (a veritable deluge of these recently), porn, “lista de email” (very popular spamming services in Brazil), knockoff products (notably from China and Japan), forex trading, penny stock scams, pirated movies, counterfeit Viagra, or anything else you’re hawking. I’m not interested in being a cog in your black-hat SEO machine. You are irrelevant to the human race.

You want advice for inexperienced “blogg writers?” Don’t spam other people’s blogs with your putrescent effluence. Stay away from my blog. Remember that what you put out into the universe comes back to you a hundredfold; you’re only inviting misery and dark energy into your own life by being involved in these scummy deceptions.

With no respect whatsoever,
-The Old Wolf


If you’re interested in seeing how prevalent this plague is, hop over to Stop Forum Spam, where you can see the most active offenders, their emails, IP addresses, and evidence of their scams. The level of overal scumminess and illicit activity worldwide seems to be increasing exponentially; the only thing we can do is be vigilant and employ good filtering tools wherever they are available, so that the outflow of sewage is never seen.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

So much junk, so many scumbags.

A recent comment posted to one of my blog entries:

Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the net the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks.

Typical of blog spam comments, the commenter includes a link to a Fotki.com “journal” in Spanish, which then links to a Spanish version of Holly Hayden’s [1] “H Miracle” hemorrhoid “cure”. Sheer snake oil, marketed to the most gullible sector of society. I perused the website until nausea overtook me, and will not provide a link to it. For only $69.96… Wait! Time-sensitive discount, only $37.00, you get

“a completely natural, guaranteed cure that’s far cheaper and safer than recurring creams or surgery … in my honest opinion. (That’s only the price of a few movie tickets …. a good family dinner …. or just 0.62 cents for 2 months.)

hmiracle

As seen on Ask, MSN, AOL and Yahoo: 100% pure baloney.

This lady is repackaging Preparation H, or manufacturing something akin to it, and selling it at ten prices with the worst sort of dishonest, barely-legal hucksterism. Notice the disclaimer:

The H Miracle system has a consistent 96.4% proven success rate at eliminating hemorrhoids safely, powerfully, naturally and easily. The small percent that doesn’t permanently cure includes those who may have a rare, complicated health issue that goes well beyond hemorrhoids and its usual variations. I have to be honest about this … despite the fact that the vast, vast majority of sufferers (including yourself) will be raving about the phenomenal results. Luckily, we have a personal strategy inside for those with more complex issues and even they end up benefiting tremendously …

In other words, if you buy our crap and it doesn’t perform, we’ve got an even more expensive product for pitiful anomalies like yourself. But in the meantime, we’ve got your money and our asses are covered.

The dishonesty of websites like this – and there are thousands and thousands out there – dismay me no end. People read, people believe without doing any research whatsoever, and people waste billions of dollars on quack remedies which do nothing for them. The link refers specifically to weight-loss nostrums, but there are countless other schemes and scams, many of them promoted by prominent figures who are either paid for their endorsements or who were bamboozled into believing that these products had some actual value.

The simple fact that the manufacturer of this product resorts to injecting trash comments like this into people’s blogs, hoping to raise their search-engine rankings, is a bright red flag waving in the middle of the meadow – it says “Stop!”

stop

Crampton, Gertrude and Gergely, Tibor, Tootle, Golden Press, 1945

No legitimate product, service, or company would ever advertise like this. Beware of such; stay far, far away.

On that note, today I received a memo from “Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank”:

Federal Reserve Bank Board New York.

NOTIFICATION OF CREDIT FROM Federal Reserve Bank.
Attn: Beneficiary: Please Sir.

Based on our findings in the investigations department we wish to warn you against some Miscreants, Hoodlums and Touts who go about scamming innocent people by claiming to be who they are not and thereby tarnishing the image of this wonderful country.

Instruction was given from the Office of Presidency ,United Nations (UN), World Bank and (IMF) to transfer your overdue fund through International ATM Debit/Master Card which you can use in any ATM and cash point machine anywhere in the world, shopping or banking for all your needs.
This directives was given to us at the Federal Reserve Bank after the joint meeting of the above mentioned bodies to help check the activity of fraud and illegal movement of money across the world.

You can withdrawal money from your International ATM Debit/Master Card from any ATM MACHINE location or center of your choice nearest to you, in any part of the world. You are advise to reconfirm your address where the Courier service will dispatch your ATM Card to you within 48hrs.We Have Been Mandated By The ECOWAS Parliament To Issue Out $10.5 Million only on your contract, inheritance and lotto promos related funds Also For Your Information, You Have To Stop Any Further Communication With Any Other Person (S) Or Office(S) To Avoid Any Hitches In Receiving Your Payment.

1. Your full Name:
2. Delivery Address:
3. Your direct Tel, Cell: Nos:
4. A copy of your ID or ID numbers for Identification:
5. Your Nearest Airport:

Finally, this is very urgent and important the bank are waiting to hear from you right away today, Bear in mind that the tracking number of your parcel will be given to you immediately the Processing charge and Stamp fee is received to avoid any immediate STOP ORDER from the United Nation office.

Note That Because Of Impostors, We Hereby Issued You Our Code Of Conduct, Which Is (ATM-110) So You Have To Indicate This Code When Contacting The Card Center By Using It As Your Subject.

Below are few list of tracking numbers you can track from UPS website to confirm people like you who have received their payment successfully.

Name : Donna L. Vargas: UPS Tracking Number: 1Z757F991598420403 (www.ups.com)
Name : Rovenda Elaine Clayton: UPS Tracking Number: 1Z757F991596606592 (www.ups.com)

CONGRATULATIONS. The Bank Wait For Your Expedite Response. Please Call The Ups shipping Agent Now (347-348-0897) Mr Steven Parker.

The bank Wait For Your Expedite Response.

Yours sincerely,

Mr.Ben S. Bernanke.
Ref.: bensbernanke/frb110/pres/un/wb/imf/pt.
Chairman Federal Reserve Bank Board New York.

This is the most transparent of Nigerian garbage. I called the above phone number just to see who would answer, and I got a message (in a British accent) indicating that the party was not available. I’m certain that somehow this number is wired to forward calls to a number in Nigeria or somewhere like it. Notice the mention of a “Processing charge and Stamp fee,” the which, once paid, would open the floodgates to an endless litany of requests for additional fees, bribes, charges, stamps, and whatever the victim is willing to send to collect his nonexistent funds, until he finally gives up in disgust.

Sadly, crooks and scammers like this are largely beyond the reach of the law; US federal agencies are powerless to act against these drones, and often the governments of the countries in which the scammers operate are ineffective in dealing with or party to the scam.

To be safe,

  • Never send money via Western Union or similar service anywhere, unless you are initiating the transaction and know who will be receiving the money.
  • Never give your banking or credit card information to anyone who requests it via email.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] “Independent Remedy Researcher & Official Article Columnist.” Now there are some impressive credentials, I tell you what.