Got this text message early in May (and I’ve had a couple of others since… these things seem to go in waves as scammers share ideas around.
Just look at the URL that you’re supposed to use to log in: “Erwanbikes”? It’s a real website in India, supposedly for renting bicycles. Either someone has embedded malicious code in a subdirectory of their website without their knowledge, or they are actively involved in the scam. There’s no way of knowing.
Either way, if a communication came from PayPal, the address to go to would be something at
and not some random website. Be careful if you get messages like this and never click on the link unless you know or can tell where it has taken you.
If you’re curious, here’s where the rabbit hole goes:
Note the bogus (i.e. not PayPal) URL. Now they want your information.
Never provide information like this to an unknown entity. SS Number? Mother’s Maiden Name? Run away fast!
If someone wants your credit card information and you don’t know who they are, you’re being scammed.
Once you’ve given the bad guys access to your financial information and your credit card number, you are redirected to the legitimate PayPal website. Then watch your money disappear. Please don’t be taken in by criminal activity of this nature, and watch over your vulnerable loved ones.
Back in August of this year, I ordered something that looked very interesting from an ad that appeared on my facebook wall, by a company called acfantasy:
“The Grand Orrery model of the solar system depicts the correct relative orbital speeds of the planets plus relative orbital movement of Earth’s moon. Historically, a Grand Orrery showed only the “naked eye” planets out to Saturn, as they were developed in the early 18th century.”
It looked gorgeous and intricate, and I thought I would love to have this on my desk. The total charge to an outfit called “acfantasy” was $48.06.
What I received today, after a wait of two months (shipped, of course, from China) was this:
To say that I was stunned by the duplicity would be an understatement. True, I actually got something – a lot of these Chinese wankstains will take your money and not bother to ship anything at all – but sending out a cheap piece of scrap metal like this, which is not worth 49¢ let alone $49.00 is stunning in its audacity.
The company has a website (acfantasy.vip) and a contact email; I sent multiple requests for replacement with the advertised product or a full refund, but never heard anything back.
I have ordered things from Facebook ads before and been pleasantly surprised by what I would consider adequate quality and value for the money; this one certainly falls into the “Chinese businesses with all the ethics of a starving honey badger” column.
Facebook needs to do much better in vetting its advertisers. There are far too many scammers out there, about which I have written elsewhere. Despite being careful, I got burned this time. These people can sit on a very fragile glass cactus.
Edit: Sadly, I got stung again by a company called scypg, shortly after writing this; something else I had ordered before the bogus orrery had come.
Cheap-ass bait and switch. Advice found on reddit is excellent; I will definitely not purchase directly from ads found on social media any longer.
Edit: I also emailed this company several times. They finally wrote back telling me that they were sorry I had ordered the wrong product (i.e. selected the wrong option or something). I told them I didn’t. They wrote back a couple of times offering me a 15% or a 5% discount to try to keep me happy. There was no response to my last email telling them that I still wanted the advertised product or a full refund.
From Reddit, confirmed by my own experiences:
“LPT: Never buy items advertised on social media newsfeeds. The majority are either scams, bait and switch, or “Wish” quality products.
Social media sites almost never provide resolution. Instead of following the link in the ad, search for the item independently and buy from legitimate vendors.”Social media advertisements are frequently bots or institutional scams.
It typically results in:
1. Paypal scam where they charge your card multiple times and you end up having to request a new card number. 2. Bait and switch, where you follow the link for one thing and end up ordering something completely different. 3. Low quality item to begin with.
Think “wish” quality products…. Social media sites almost never rectify the issue, and often if you check back later the comments section indicate several hundred other people were scammed (and some fake reviews left as well!).
If you see something you want, search for it independently outside of social media and purchase it on a legitimate vendor. Never follow the link directly from social media.”
It’s been going on for a long time, and it continues to spread via social media. And today I’m looking directly at Facebook, which seems happy to take advertising money for all sorts of spurious enterprises (see my earlier post about Chinese bottom-feeders trying to sell counterfeit Morgan dollar collections).
Today this showed up as a “promoted post” in my Facebook feed (on my Android, it should be noted; I use FBP on the desktop and almost never see an ad there):
“After loosing temper” was my first red flag. Great Mogg’s titanium teeth, people, learn the difference between “loose” and “lose.” But it turns out that the page you get to has nothing to do with the stated headline.
(I don’t even know if Artsy On knows anything about this. They seem to be selling books, but I frankly don’t have the time or energy to do a deep dive into their website metadata. It’s possible someone added a malicious link to their website and is using it to redirect to the seller’s page.)
which is a farticle (fake article) implying that Whoopi is endorsing or promoting this garbage called Cheyenne Valley CBD Oil:
The advertisement is designed to look like a Time Magazine article. It’s not. And Ms. Goldberg does not promote or endorse this product. At all. In any way. The whole thing is made up out of whole cloth as an affiliate marketing scam to get you to the marketing page for this questionable product. ¹
The second paragraph in this scammy advertisement reads like this:
“When I started this whole thing back in 2020, it really was just a part-time passion project and a way for me to give back. After being given so much, I figured there was no better time to make Cheyenne Valley CBD Oil available to everyone, as it can help thousands of people experience life pain-free and live much happier lives.”
But in this article from healthmj, we see a very similar quote:
“This was a really, really difficult decision for me. When I started this whole thing back in 2015, it really was just a part-time passion project and a way for me to give back. Now here we are almost five years later, and Green CBD Oil has steadily grown into a full-fledged business that’s helped thousands of people become pain-free and much happier. My line gives me a chance to do something bigger than music, and I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I let that opportunity pass me by.”
Blake Shelton doesn’t endorse any sort of CBD Oil. Neither does Tom Hanks, for that matter, and he says so in no uncertain terms. These bottom-feeders will use anyone’s name to get people to their sales page. Once you get there, it’s the same tired old format that I’ve written about multiple times:
Of course, this is just the hook; buried deeply in the Terms and Conditions which almost nobody ever reads, is the catch:
Failure to cancel within the trial period will result in our subscription program and further charges.
The trial begins the same day you order. It doesn’t begin when you receive the trial in the mail.
Applicable sales tax may be applied to all charges.
We allow only 1 trial purchase per household.
As part of ordering a trial, you agree to join a recurring membership plan. You can modify your subscription anytime by contacting us.
This is not a free sample offer. We only offer as a trial, which turns into a subscription or individual bottles.
The most efficient method of contacting us is through email@example.com. Please provide your name and phone number and we will get back to you as soon as possible
The trial period begins on day of order. To clarify, it does not begin when you receive the product.
By placing your order today you’ll be shipped a 30 day supply of Cheyenne Valley CBD Oil for only $6.89. This gives you the opportunity to try this remarkable product so you can come to a decision for yourself if this is the right product for you. If you are dissatisfied with the product, you must call 8774388714 within 14 days trial plus 3 days shipping (total of 17 days) from today to cancel your membership and avoid being charged of $99.89, which is the full price of the product. If you are satisfied with the product, you need do nothing else and upon the expiration of the trial period, you will be billed $99.89.The total monthly subscription charge of $99.89 includes shipping and handling for the full cost of the product. Thirty days after your trial period ends and every thirty days thereafter, we will send you a fresh monthly supply at the low price of $99.89 per until you cancel your membership. There’s no obligation and you may cancel your membership at any time by calling 8774388714 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The trial period begins from the day of ordering the product.
Address the return package to: PO Box 15911, Tampa, FL 33684
Everything about these scammy, barely-legal offers is based on lies. The celebrity endorsement, publication by a major company (TIME magazine, in this case), the price of the offer, the claim of “extremely high demand” and “limited stock,” all of the supposed endorsements from “satisfied customers” – it’s all lies. All lies.
So even if you take the bait, bite the hook, get reeled in, and pay $100 a month(!) for a tiny bottle of who-knows-what, what kind of quality do you think you might be getting from a company that resorts to such reprehensible tricks to get your business? I wouldn’t use it if you paid me a Benjamin.
Protect yourself from scams and don’t give your money to any company that does business this way. And please educate your loved ones who may be vulnerable to such tactics.
And Facebook, take note. Stop accepting ads from this kind of scammer. It makes you look worse than you already do.
The Old Wolf has spoken.
¹ In the interest of full clarity:
For several years, Ms. Goldberg was a partner in a website called Whoopi and Maya, which was focused on providing high-quality medical cannabis to women as a relief for menstrual cramps. When she and her partner came to a parting of the ways, the business was dissolved.
There are rumorsthat she may be involved in launching a new cannabis-related enterprise. Whether this comes to fruition remains to be seen. All that said, she does not endorse this scummy “Cheyenne Valley CBD Oil” and never has.
As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing her as Guinan in the 2nd Season of Star Trek: Picard.
Steven Owen Deputy Director Of Finance, (Administration,Operations) Richmond International Airport 1 Richard E Byrd Terminal Dr, Richmond, VA 23250, United States Email: email@example.com
I have very vital information to give to you, but first I must have your trust before I review it to you because it may cause me my job,so I need somebody that I can trust for me to be able to review the secret to you.
I am Mr. Steven Owen,(Deputy Director Of Finance & Administration) here at the Richmond International Airport, Virginia. During my recent withheld package routine check at the Airport Storage Vault, I discovered an abandoned shipment from a Diplomat from Africa and when scanned it revealed an undisclosed sum of money in a Metal Trunk Box weighing 210kg approximately $25,500,000.00 ($25.5M) The consignment was abandoned because the Contents of the consignment was not properly declared by the consignee as “MONEY” rather it was declared as personal effect to avoid interrogation and also the inability of the diplomat to pay for the United States Non Inspection Charges which is $4,500USD. On my assumption the consignment is still left in our Storage House here at the Richmond International Airport, Virginia till date. The details of the consignment including your names, your email address and the official documents from the United Nations office in Geneva are tagged on! !! the Trunk box.
However, to enable me confirm if you are the actual recipient of this consignment as the assistant director of the Inspection Unit, I will advise you provide your current Phone Number and Full Address, to enable me cross check if it corresponds with the address on the official documents including the name of nearest Airport around your city. Please note that this consignment is supposed to have been returned to the United States Treasury Department as unclaimed delivery due to the delays in concluding the clearance processes so as a result of this, I will not be able to receive your details on my official email account. So in order words to enable me cross check your details, I will advise you send the required details to my private email address for quick processing and response. Once I confirm you as the actual recipient of the trunk box, I can get everything concluded within 48hours upon your acceptance and proceed to your address for delivery. The Requested Information is to ensure that no mistake or error is occured and should be forwarded in the manner stated below:
Your Full Name:……. Your Complete Address:….. Name of City of Residence:….. Closet Airport to your City:…… Direct Telephone Number:…..
Lastly, be informed that the reason I have taken it upon myself to contact you personally about this abandoned consignment is because I want us to transact this business and share the money 70% for you and 30% for me since the consignment has not yet been returned to the United States Treasury Department after being abandoned by the diplomat so immediately the confirmation is made, I will go ahead and pay for the United States Non Inspection Fee of $4,500 dollars and arrange for the box to be delivered to your doorstep Or I can bring it by myself to avoid any more trouble but you have to assure me of my 30% share.
I wait to hear from you urgently if you are still alive and I will appreciate if we can keep this deal confidential. Please get back to me via my private Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further directives:
Best Regards Mr.Steven Owen
The email came with a form to fill out, which clearly was never completed:
These are just as fraudulent now as they were during the days of the fax machine. NEVER send money or private information to these scumbags. Delete their emails and move on with your life. There is no money waiting for you, and if you communicate with these people you stand to lose money or your identity or both.
The scammers never give up. Obviously, it must work at some level or they would find something else to do. But with the number of people in the world, the bell curve pretty much predicts that by blasting out millions of email messages like this, they will snag someone who is untutored enough to pay their extortionate demand. It makes me very sad that the world is so full of evil creatures like this.
⚠️ I’ve been watching you for weeks now. ⚠️ The thing is, you’ve been infected with malware via the adult website you visited.
I have made a video showing how you satisfy yourself on the left side of the screen, and on the right side you see the video you have been watching. With one click, I can send this video to all your contacts in the mail and social networks. I can also publish access to all your emails and messaging apps that you use.
If you want to prevent this, then: Transfer $650(USD) to my bitcoin wallet (in case you don’t know how to do it, then type in to Google: “Buy a bitcoin”).
My Bitcoin Wallet: obfuscated bitcoin wallet address After receiving the payment, I will erase the video and you will never hear from me again. I will give you 50 hours (more than two days) to pay. I see you’re reading this email and the timer started you opened it.
Timer id: 241996031
Don’t attempt to reply me. It doesn’t make any sense (the sender’s address is created automatically). Filing a complaint somewhere doesn’t make sense, because this email cannot be tracked, and neither can my bitcoin address. I don’t make mistakes.
If I find that you shared this message with somebody else, the video will be distributed immediately. Good luck with that.
Ya. Well, good luck with your blackmail attempt, since I don’t use a webcam, you waste of human cytoplasm.
As always, the takeaway is never send money to scammers, or unknown people, by bitcoin, Western Union, Gift Cards, or any other method.
The Old Wolf continues to be outraged by these antics.
I keep getting text messages from realtors or real estate investors, all calling me “Mike” (not my name) and asking if I would be interested in selling my home at [address] in Sandy, Utah.
In addition to the name being wrong, I lived in the Salt Lake area for over 40 years, but have never owned any property that far south, and I haven’t lived in Utah since 2015. So today I did a bit more digging.
Tax records show that the property in question is owned by Mike [obscured], and a quick search at a data aggregator shows that this individual has several phone numbers listed, one of which is mine.
I’ve had this same phone number since the introduction of the cell phone, so I’m not sure how my number got associated with this Mike gentleman. I’ve petitioned the aggregation service to remove it, and we’ll see if this goes anywhere.
At any rate, here are the messages I received:
8/22/2019 – from (385) 250-0401 Hi Mike, I’m Nate and I know this is a shot in the dark but I saw your house at [address]. Would you possibly consider selling it?
1/29/2020 – from (435) 265-3414 Hi Mike! Mark here! I’m a local investor looking for properties in Sandy! Would you be open to an offer on your property at [address]?
4/6/2020 – from (435) 304-4355 Hello Mike this is Brenden. Sorry for reaching out in these uncertain times. I’m looking for a house to buy in the neighborhood. I’m curious if you are looking to cash out equity before a possible market shift on [address]. I’d love to see if we might be able to work together.
5/29/2020 – from 304-3769 Hello Mike, we’re looking to pick up some properties and was wondering if you’d be open to an offer on [address]? – Jake
Well, I chatted with “Jake” for a while as though I were “Mike” and might be interested. He asked about details on the house, and I asked him for his full name, the name of his agency, and the name of his broker. He responded,
I’m a local real estate investor – I’m looking for another rental or rehab project and I like the area.
Notice that he didn’t provide any of the requested information. I then laid out the entire situation for him and essentially asked him what his game was. His response?
There are so many red flags surfacing around this chain of messages that I feel like Tootle in the meadow.
I have no idea what these people’s game is – I wish I knew – but I suspect it’s not on the up and up, especially given the fact that multiple individuals (supposedly) are contacting me regarding a property that is not even on the market.
Be careful out there. Never give out sensitive personal or financial information unless you know exactly who you are dealing with, and why.
This was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who got stung – apparently this outfit claims to have ample supplies of sanitizer and masks, but when you order you get shoddy merchandise or, in most cases, nothing at all.
The company claims it has been in business for 10 years, but Whois shows that the website was created on March 21, 2020. Because this website is operating from somewhere outside the USA, recourse is limited to calling your financial institution and asking them to reverse the charges; sometimes this is a major hassle as it involves having your credit card cancelled, issuing a new one, and then registering it with all the places you use for automatic payment, but at this point it’s all we have.
I’d like to blame China because they have all the ethics of a starving honey badger and the CCP turns a blind eye to such jiggery-pokery, but in all honesty it could be running from anywhere.
So be careful, and if you get stung – it’s easy to do, even if you’re on the lookout – don’t hesitate to call your financial institution.
Be careful out there, the scumbags are still working in force to separate you from your hard-earned cash.
Got a message today from a Facebook friend:
Now, this friend doesn’t usually contact me from out of the blue, so I was immediately suspicious. Add to that the fact that the account was flagged as:
Using Messenger without Facebook (I know my friend has a facebook account)
Logged in using a phone number from the United States
Account was recently created (This friend has been around for quite a while)
All of these are red flags, and so I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was dealing with a stolen or cloned account. I proceeded to go down the rabbit hole to see what their game was today.
“i have something to shear whit you ?” My friend is an educated American, not someone who sounds like a third-grader or a Nigerian prince. A quick Google shows that EESA stands for Eastern European Study Abroad, but that’s probably not what I’m going to hear. So let’s take this a little further.
He’s “so confused that I haven’t heard anything about it.” Well, isn’t that special. The EESA exists, but in 2008 it created the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to purchase toxic assets from banks. In short, it was the bank bailout, and had nothing to do with grants to individuals.
These Nigerians love to use strange names. “Christopher Wisdoms,” “Martins Tanjul,”and the like. The grammar continues to be blatantly non-English.
Anyone who calls you “dear” who isn’t in your intimate circle of friends is without question going to be a scammer, and most likely Nigerian. They don’t understand that “Dear Sir” is part of a formula, and not something to be used indiscriminately.
So now I have a phone number to text, probably an accomplice or the same drone. Let’s see what we get.
“some other lucky communities”
“all beneficiaries name was chosen randomly through a computer ballot for fans of face-book who surf it frequently”
Grant programs don’t work like that, you cretin.
And now they want personal information. At this point I was about to shut things down. But the Facebook scammer (most likely the same individual) got impatient (another red flag – why would this “friend” care if I reach out to “Mr. Wisdoms” or not?)
If I had given “Mr. Wisdoms” my name and email address, things would probably have progressed to the point of “You need to send me $2500 for taxes and fees to collect your grant” or some other similar nonsense. But I wasn’t about to share even that with these criminal drones. Instead, I hauled out my stock response, and sent it both via Facebook and text message:
An “onioburu” is a gong-farmer (otherwise known as a nightsoil handler, someone who empties excrement buckets for a living.) Not a nice thing to call someone, but these are not nice people. The fact that he responded with “Lol” and then went silent was proof enough that he got the message.
Be so very careful out there. Any time a friend or contact starts talking about money, unless it’s someone you know and trust, assume it’s your money they want and break off communication.
Stay safe, and watch out for your loved ones who may be elderly or vulnerable.
I have often posted about snake oil vendors on the internet and the operation of scummy affiliate marketers that flood our inboxes and search results with come-ons for worthless products that hook vulnerable people into giving up credit card numbers and signing up for endless refills of overpriced trash.
After some brilliant internet sleuthing, GoDaddy just killed 15,000 spammy domains that hawk these products. The article is worth the read if you’re interested in protecting your loved ones from bogus marketing and scams.
It certainly won’t be the end of the problem, but it’s a good thing and I give them props for the effort.
Even if torpedoing 15,000 domains won’t put much of a dent in one of the most pervasive scourges of the web—as Miller-Osborn fully acknowledges—it at least shines a light on the problem. You can’t clear all the rats out of the sewer, but you can at least remind them that you’re there.
People who send things like this out are the dung of dung-eaters. Please never fall for these shady extortion efforts.
From: “Ava Avila” <email@example.com> To: [redacted] Subject: Central Intelligence Agency – Case #45693781
Case #45693781 Distribution and storage of pornographic electronic materials involving underage children.
My name is Ava Avila and I am a technical collection officer working for Central Intelligence Agency. It has come to my attention that your personal details including your email address [redacted] are listed in case #45693781. The following details are listed in the document’s attachment:
Your personal details,
List of relatives and their contact information.
Case #45693781 is part of a large international operation set to arrest more than 2000 individuals suspected of paedophilia in 27 countries. The data which could be used to acquire your personal information: Your ISP web browsing history, DNS queries history and connection logs, Deep web .onion browsing and/or connection sharing, Online chat-room logs, Social media activity log.
The first arrests are scheduled for April 8, 2019.
Why am I contacting you ?
I read the documentation and I know you are a wealthy person who maybe concerned about reputation. I am one of several people who have access to those documents and I have enough security clearance to amend and remove your details from this case. Here is my proposition.
Transfer exactly $10,000 USD (ten thousand dollars – about 2.5 BTC) through Bitcoin network to this special bitcoin address:
3C36DiGhcf4LvznzC6B2MWduPrL9rakgRp (note: this is a scam bitcoin address, never use it for anything.)
You can transfer funds with online bitcoin exchanges such as Coinbase, Bitstamp or Coinmama. The deadline is March 27, 2019 (I need few days to access and edit the files).
Note: I didn’t see this email until April 9, 2019 – thus far I haven’t been arrested by the CIA. 🤣😜🤣
Upon confirming your transfer I will take care of all the files linked to you and you can rest assured no one will bother you.
Please do not contact me. I will contact you and confirm only when I see the valid transfer.
Ava Avila Technical Collection Officer Directorate of Science and Technology Central Intelligence Agency
The executive summary: “I’m a corrupt CIA agent, and if you bribe me $10,000 I’ll make your child-pornography file go away.”
Look at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org – it’s from a domain in Gabon. These people are dumber than a pile of bricks.
Never fall for scummy tricks like this. Never give money to scammers. Be careful out there.