eBay must have some sort of blanket advertising deal with Google, because the “sponsored links” you get for some searches really don’t make any sense.
Case in point: I did a Google search for the phrase, “nigerian scam,” and saw the following ad:
Wow, when they say, “Whatever it is, you can get it here.”—they really mean it! 😉
Interestingly, if you search for “419 scam,” you get the same type of ad, but not if you search for “advance fee fraud.”
I tried a few random search terms, and from what I can tell, eBay’s ad shows up on many—but not all—two-word searches. I’m not sure what the pattern is, but I can’t imagine someone at eBay deliberately asked to buy ad space for some of these phrases.
But in a show of accuracy, if you search for “random stuff,” you’ll find it!
I found a 419 scam in the spamtraps that started, in typical fashion, with an all-caps name and address, then the line:
HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL REQUESTING
What made this funny (aside from the bad grammar) was the fact that the To: line contained over 1,200 addresses!
Ah, this is obviously some strange use of the word confidential that I wasn’t previously aware of!
I had set this spam sample aside without really looking at it back at the end of March. As I checked the folder this morning, the scammer’s supposed name jumped out at me.
CO-OPERATIVE BANK PLC
UNIVERSITY BRANCH, GROVE HOUSE
OXFORD ROAD MANCHESTER UK
I AM WRITING TO LET YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL AND ALSO EXPLAIN THINGS TO YOU THROUGH THIS LETTER AND WILL APPRECIATE IF YOU COULD ADVICE ME ON THIS ISSUE. MY NAME IS VADER DARTH. I WAS BORN IN TENNESSE AND RAISED IN EUROPE AND I NOW WORK WITH THE CO-OPERATIVE BANK IN THE MANCHESTER CITY, UNITED KINGDOM. I HAVE A VERY GOOD FRIEND WHOM I MET IN MY UNIVERSITY YEARS BY NAME FAURE EYADEMA, THE SON OF THE LATE PRESIDENT OF TOGO…
It continues on with the standard Nigerian scam pitch (relocated to Togo) about the relative of the deposed/late leader who needs to transfer a large amount of money through some random person’s account.
Yes, people fall for these scams… but come on, who do they think they’re fooling with an alias like “Vader Darth?”
Perhaps it’s a long-overdue response to the now-infamous 419 Eater successfully baiting a scammer as “D’arth Vader” of Dark Side Industries. More likely someone else didn’t recognize the name when they chose to use it.
I suppose it fits in with the 419 scammer from Tatooine who posted to The Darth Side last month.
Various outlets have reported on the recent appearance of evangelical spam—unsolicited bulk email which promotes religious messages instead of advertising products. It’s been pointed out that since CAN-SPAM refers to commercial mail it can’t be used to stop people who bombard you with other types of messages.
I’ve seen 419 scams with religious trappings for months. These are the usual “Help me smuggle $20 million out of my country” ploys with the added twist of “Oh, I’m a missionary” or “I’ll donate it to an orphanage” or “You can trust me, I’m a Christian,” usually tied to a middle-eastern nation where Christians are in the minority (because Nigeria is so passé). Of course the only thing the scammers really worship is the almighty X-MILLION US DOLLARS. It’s a cheap sympathy ploy, nothing more, made obvious by the fact that, well, it’s a scam!
Today I saw a new variation on that tactic: instead of appealing to Christians, this one was appealing to Muslims. It was all about some Muslim convert in Cuba who had been abandoned by his Catholic family and just needed to transfer $12 million out of the country… all sent from a UK-based email account.
On a side note, I’ve found myself wondering lately why so many of these seem to come from European ISP Tiscali, particularly Tiscali UK. (One came through yesterday with 119 copies of the standard footer!) I assume they must provide easy-to-get email accounts, or perhaps connectivity for a lot of Internet cafés. It also suggests that quite a few of these scammers aren’t anywhere near the (mostly) third-world nations where they claim to live.