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Posting About You

Several months ago we reported on a suspicious new spam/phishing scheme we discovered. Research is continuing on this suspected scam, now dubbed the "About You" scheme, and sufficient data has been gathered to suggest that computer users should be wary of this new threat. AACUG volunteer spam trackers chased a number of these posts, all of which claim: "Someone who knows you is attempting to share experiences and opinions about you via our website." The email is very compelling, encouraging you to go to the site to discover who has inquired there about you. Of course when arriving, you must sign in before you can read the info. Of the sites tested, most of the links, including the "about" and "privacy" links produce data errors, server not found errors or simply do nothing at all.

The variations tested include passages like or similar to this:
      "The purpose of this email is to inform you that a posting has been made about you at our website. This is email is not commercial in nature."

Of course, then they attempt to get you to add them to your whitelist, or skirt around spam filters:
      "If this email message was delivered to your spam or bulk email folder please notify your ISP or spam filtering company regarding this mistake on their part."

All of the spams tested came to different seeded email addresses with the exact same message, and the email address embedded in the return link. Some of the receiving addresses do not have human counterparts, indicating dictionary spamming techniques in use. Additionally, according to SpamCop.net, and the UXN Spam Tracker, the messages employ link obfuscation, a typical spam technique to mask human-readable domains and confuse or divert spam filters.

Some of the 'hosting' domains are:

although we cannot confirm if these IP owners are directly involved in the offending web site. We'll keep you posted.

WARNING for all email users:

As filtering becomes more 'intelligent' and adaptive, the criminal element is developing more convincing ways of getting you to opt in, or accept their messages. For a detailed white paper on how Spammers are using increasingly sophisticated means to get their messages past adaptive spam filters, download this PDF file from Sophos.com

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