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A Dispatch

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February 04, 2008

That "Canadian" Pharmacy

When most email users receive a message from an unknown sender (as displayed in the From: field in the inbox list) with the following subject:

Subject: Your Receipt No.30345387

they'll open the message to see if there was a mistake of some kind. "I didn't order anything," they think to themselves in a huff (or in whatever else they're wearing). The message body, of course, doesn't provide any details about the alleged transaction; only the following:

Mon, 4 Feb 2008 05:45:40 +0500


I'd wager that at least eight out of ten recipients couldn't tell you what time zone is being referred to in the time stamp. Not that it really matters, because the "time stamp" is as phony as a $3 bill. But it does look sorta official if you don't know what it means—look at all those numbery things!

The spamvertised domain name isn't one that anyone could recognize, consisting of a mashup of two essentially random English words. A check of the domain registration shows it to be supposedly owned by someone in China, in particular, a name I've seen on so many spam domain registrations (including these), I'm beginning to wonder if it's the Chinese equivalent of "John Doe."

Checking the source code of the spamvertised web site, I see that it is one advertising itself as "Canadian Pharmacy." Based on the huge lists of pills and maladies written into the code, it looks as though if you have any condition whatsoever, they have medz for it.

To assuage the hesitations of a potentially cautious consumer, the page includes a Frequently Asked Questions section. Some of these are rich (English majors, be prepared to wince):

Why is your product so cheap?
There is a number of reasons for that. We do not spend anything on marketing, there are no taxes to be paid as the product comes into the country unregistered, the manufacturer is located in an offshore zone and the production costs are way lower. No child labor is used.

Oh, I feel so much better that you claim child labor isn't being used. Offshore apparel makers claim the same thing...until the factories get busted by the authorities.

Where are your Physicians Licensed?
Our physicians are U.S licensed. We use only board certified physicians and U.S licensed pharmacies.

Wait a minute! Since when are Canadian pharmacies licensed by the U.S.?

At the bottom of the page they clear up the licensing issue (Not!):

Licensed by The College of Pharmacists of British Columbia.

The page even includes the true address and phone number of the real College (although not of the pharmacy, itself). At the College's web site, you can download a list of licensed pharmacies. Horror of horrors: Canadian Pharmacy is not listed!

There is also a link to a page explaining their "Anti-spam policy," where they swear up and down that they support "ONLY permission-based email management practices." They (obviously) strongly encourage using the unsubscribe form to be removed from the list. And if you believe that your email address will be completely suppressed, there is a beautiful red bridge at the mouth of San Francisco Bay I'd like to sell you.

By the way, according to the source code, the main page also includes a Flash gizmo. I wouldn't put it past this spammer to have wired that auto-downloadable object to attempt to install malware onto susceptible PCs. As it is, if visited with a JavaScript-enabled browser, the page passes along quite a few technical statistics of your browser without your knowledge.

The amount of deception used in the original email and then on the spamvertised web site—not to mention the potential peril to which you expose yourself by actually buying and ingesting the pseudo-medz offered there—is off the charts. Sadly, even if I had my way of teaching every email user on the planet about how to avoid being sucked into these schemes and spammers started falling by the wayside, the last spammer on Earth would be a medz spammer who supplies bogus medz from outside the U.S. And I don't mean from Canada.

Posted on February 04, 2008 at 09:36 AM