Powered by Movable Type 3.121
Home The Book Training Events Tools Stats
Web log archive.
A Dispatch

« More Oprah Abuse? | Main | A Spammer By Any Other Name... »

April 22, 2008

A Degree From Botnet University

Over the last 36 hours, I've been pummeled by diploma spam. Except for differences in line spacing and presentation format of the response phone number, they've all had the same message body:

Within 4-6 weeks!
No Study Required!
100% Verifiable!
These are real, genuine degrees that include Bachelors, Masters, MBA and Doctorate Degrees. They are fully verifiable and certified transcripts are also available.
Just call the number below.

Subject: lines are from a range that includes the following:

  • Achieve Masters very fast
  • Get your Bachelors
  • Get your PhD
  • Eradicates classrooms and traveling call now

The phone number, like those used in hundreds of similar schemes over the last few years, is to a Seattle-based voicemail service. You leave your phone number; the crooks contact you; you give up money and/or credit card data in return for nothing (less than nothing, actually, when you consider the loss of your credit card).

Lest you believe that because the phone number is in the U.S. and because the spam messages are not CAN-SPAM compliant that law enforcement should have an easy time pursuing this scam, you'd be sorely mistaken. Look at the different formats used for the phone number:

  • +1-206-3090-336
  • +1 206 309033 - 6
  • +1(206)309-0336
  • +1 206 30 - 90 - 33 - 6
  • +1/206/3090/336

This job, my friends, originated from outside the United States. Americans targeting Americans simply don't write long-distance phone numbers with the +1 prefix—sometimes 1- but never +1. Additionally, only the third number in the above list is in a number grouping that would be familiar to North American phone users. Outside North America, anything goes, where not all numbers within a given country necessarily have the same number of digits.

Each of the messages I've seen originated from a different IP address scattered around the world. They have all the hallmarks of spam being sent through bots running on infected PCs, much like the medz and porn spam that pour out of botnets with the unrelenting torrent of a Niagra Falls.

Even if you were to receive a diploma from this offer, I don't think that listing an MBA from Botnet U. (the fighting Command-And-Controllers!) would look so good on your resumé. Nor is your potential employer's HR department going to dial up Minsk for your transcript.

Posted on April 22, 2008 at 12:10 PM