Not falling for it

I found the following email, dated today, in a junk folder:

MICROSOFT
Thank You For Making A Payment Online We Have Received
Your Order For The AUTO-RENEWAL Plan
•SERVICES = MICROSOFT LICENSE
•PAYMENT = 299.99

SUMMARY = Your MICROSOFT License Key Is #9892305
•PAYMENT SOURCE = CARD
•PAYMENT DATE = 04 / 25 /2020
•CONFORMATION NUMBER = #9891305

NOTE = If You Believe That You Have Not Make
= This Purchase or It Has Been Auto-renewed
= Automatically . Then Call The Help Desk To CANCEL .

TOLL-FREE = (607) 325 3365

I have several problems with this email. First, the only Microsoft product I have is Windows. Second, the spelling is atrocious “conformation”? Seriously? The word should be “confirmation”, which has a different meaning. The English is horrid, for example “..that you have not make...” and “…it has been auto-renewed automatically.” I was always under the impression that is something is “auto-renewed” it did happen automatically and there would be no reason to spell it out. And finally, that “toll-free” number isn’t. Area code 607 covers south-central New York State, such as Binghamton and Ithaca.

The final thing wrong with this is that while it purports to come from Microsoft, the actual sender’s email is kenneth@ gailew. (I’ve modified the email address to keep me out of trouble with WordPress)  Not exactly Microsoft.

If you get this email, don’t bother to phone the help desk. Just do as I did and consign the message to trash.

Stay safe, stay indoors as much as possible and, given the current situation, just think about hugging an artist, we need love (and social distancing) too.

Cat.

I won again!

I received the following in my inbox a couple of hours ago:

CNN’s Good Stuff

14:05 (2 hours ago)

Congratulations, You Have Been Selected To Get A $360 Cvs Pharmacy GiftCard,
In Order To Take Your Gift Card All You Have To Do Is Just Answering A
Short Survey About Your Shopping Experiences At Cvs

I’ve removed the email address and links to keep me out of trouble with WordPress (it’s happened before).

The problem with this email is first, I doubt CNN operates that way and perhaps the biggest problem of all is we don’t have CVS in Canada. Also, and not to sound greedy, by $360 sounds like an odd amount.

If you receive this email, be aware the actual sender’s address is a gmail address, not from CNN.

My advice is that if you get this email, just delete it, or do what I did and send a copy to CNN.

Take care and stay healthy,

Cat.

Another phone scam

Today, within the span of five minutes, I received two phone calls – one on my cell, from the Ottawa area code – and one on my landline from a toll-free number.

Both calls had the same message – they had detected “fraudulent activity” involving my Social Insurance Number and threatening me with arrest and prosecution. Both calls are scams, designed to get you to give up personal information starting with your SIN number.

From the website for Employment and Social Services Canada, a government agency:

Jun 28, 2019 – The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9 digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. A SIN is issued to one person only and it cannot legally be used by anyone else. You are responsible for protecting your SIN.

The only time you would use this number is when dealing with federal government departments, or when you get a new job. Even then, the employer doesn’t need it until you are hired.

If you get one of these calls, know they are looking for your information, probably in order to set up false identities, which could leave you, the actual holder of the card, is serious debt or trouble. My suggestion is hang up, or if you’ve let an unknown number go to voicemail, delete it.

Cat.

They keep trying

A little while ago, I received a text message from “Management Team” at Toronto phone number 437-240-6722 telling me a restriction had been placed on my TD Visa card. The sender quoted a Visa card number that, while it had the correct prefix for TD cards, had no other relation to my actual card number. The message stated my card was “immediately blocked, because of “Security Limitation. Then followed some nonsensical, but intended to sound official, numbers. Finally, the text read “Please text ‘Y’ to initialize removal of holds.”

Right, sure, anything you say. First of all, this is not the first text I’ve received of this kind. Some of them come from banks I don’t even deal with, so I am aware these are just looking for information. I’ve never texted “Y” back, but I presume that if I did, I’d be asked all kinds of questions to “confirm my account” when really all they want is my information. So, what did I do? I did what any reasonable person would, or should, do – I called Visa and reported the attempted phishing to them. I know the state of my account, so wasn’t fooled by the message.

If you receive a text message like this, or anything similar, don’t just blindly answer “Y”, check it out. You could save yourself and your credit rating a whole lot of financial hurt. I also suggest you keep tabs on your Visa card (or any other credit card) balance. That way you won’t get fooled.

Cat.

Sorry Sarge, not happening

I received the following email this morning. I’ve removed the email address to keep me in WordPress’s good graces.

Griffin, Christine Cgriffin

I am Sgt Monica L Brown I have a proposal for you! Please send me a reply on my personal Email:

slinbrown975

Rather cryptic and designed to instill curiosity in the reader isn’t it? Let’s look at it.

I am Sgt Monica L Brown Good for you. Are you in the army? Air Force, or the local police or some other paramilitary organisation that uses military ranking? Just telling me your rank doesn’t tell me anything useful.

I have a proposal for you! Really!! And what might that be? Do you have several millions in unclaimed funds you want me to help you smuggle out of the country for a cut of said money?

The extension on the sender’s email was “begavalley.nsw.gov.au”, which I translate to mean this was sent by, or on behalf, of the government of the shire of Bega Valley in New South Wales, Australia. A quick Google search shows this area is also known as “the Sapphire Coast” and it appears to be a tourist destination.

I have to ask myself why the government of a tourist area on the west coast of Australia would be contacting a 75 year-old woman in Canada with a proposal? The only thing that comes to mind is that the website has been hacked and this is in fact a scam. Having these suspicions, I have forwarded this to the Bega Valley Council for investigation.

As mysterious and inviting as this may sound, I strongly recommend you do NOT respond to Sargent Monica L Brown.

On the plus side, for a change it is well-written.

Cat.

Yet another phishing attempt

Oh no! I recently received a text message about my debit card from CIBC – The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Here’s the message:

You have 1 CIBC alert, Your Debit Card that begins with ‘4506′. Unable to process further purchases; <Access Code>: LBCRIY. Promptly reply by responding with Y to this text.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way – I don’t deal with CIBC so don’t have a debit card, or access card to use its proper name. Right there I knew it was some sort of exploratory expedition. I already knew from the area code that it was from somewhere in the Toronto area, then used reverse lookup to check the telephone number and found it was an Oakville exchange. If you aren’t familiar with the Toronto area, Oakville is west of Toronto, on the shore of Lake Ontario and is the home of Ford Motor of Canada.

Okay, on to other things: It is possible that people will read this text and instantly respond as requested. The text contains the numbers ‘4506′ and some may see this message, get out their card to check the number and think “OMG! It must be real because they’ve got the first four numbers right!” Logical assumption, but wrong. Those first four digits of your access/debit card are just the identifier – 4506 is the code for CIBC – and other Canadian banks will have four digit codes starting with “4″ as well. Other countries may have a different first digit, but it will be the identifier..

My advice is simple: If you get this text (and I’ve had several from various banks I don’t deal with) just delete it. If by chance they should happen to hit on your bank, do the sensible thing. Don’t panic. Check with your bank. There’s a telephone number on the back of the card you can call. Stay safe and if you’re doubtful – ask your bank.

Cat.

Random and various

1 – Let’s get the big one over with first: Justin Trudeau. How many of us, excluding Andrew Scheer who claims to have never done anything, did some kind of dumb-ass shit in our twenties? For me, that was the sixties and personal video cameras and social media didn’t exist then, so there’s no proof I was anything other than an angel. (And I’m sticking to that story.)

2 – Sticking with the upcoming Canadian election, I won’t try to influence how you vote – there are plenty of fake news sites already doing that. I’m just going to suggest that rather than just accept a single source for information, check other legitimate sites as well and if it is a third party ad google them to see if they have any obvious bias. You may find that ad you saw that said so-and-so is a complete incompetent idiot is a troll site based in some foreign country. CPAC, the channel that provides coverage from inside the House of Commons, is also offering election coverage and I would think their election reporting would be as even-handed as their Commons coverage. But, where you choose to get your information, and what you choose to believe of that information, is up to you. Question claims, no matter the source and vote according to your conscience, but vote.

3 – I’ve seen some ads on television lately for Quickbooks, an online business accounting system. One of the claims of these ads is that you can get paid quicker. I must take exception to that claim. Yes, you can issue an invoice faster, but you have no control over when it gets paid. Unless the terms of the invoice are “2% 10, net 30 days” I’m not paying it until I have to.

4 – I got an interesting text message last night claiming to be from the Simcoe County District School Board, a legitimate school board in Ontario, telling me my phone number has just won me $3,000,000 US funds. Several things wrong with this. First, Simcoe County is north of Toronto, so why would they choose a telephone number with a Toronto area code as a “winner” in a contest I never entered. Second, this is Ontario and Premier Doug Ford is slashing education budgets on a grand scale, so I highly doubt Simcoe County could afford to give away three million. If they had that kind of money lying around, they’d sink it into the system, not award it to some random stranger. I forwarded the message to the School Board. They thanked me and said they were aware of the scam and are investigating.

Okay, rant finished. Since this is the first day of autumn, treasure the few warm days that remain and enjoy the fall colours. Winter will soon be upon us.

Remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

And who the hell are you??

I rarely check filtered messages on Messenger. Today I did and cleaned up about 18 months worth of attempted contacts. Most I just deleted but this one deserves a reply. I won’t reply to this person directly because I don’t want to encourage him, but I’ll do it here (damn, I should have kept his message so I could send him the link to this – oh well, I can always track him down through Facebook.)

Here’s his message from June 26. Keep in mind I’ve never communicated with this person and he is not anywhere among my friends.

Hi love
In a cold and sometimes cruel world, your sweet love lifts me up and gives me peace and happiness. You are the most precious gift that life gave me and I am so grateful I met you.

Odiugho Adaoro

First off, I don’t permit people I’ve never met to call me “love”. That implies a familiarity we don’t share. So unless you’re my grandmother or my significant other just don’t. As you can see from this, it just riles me.

Odi – you don’t mind if I call you “Odi” do you? – sending a stranger that kind of message is almost guaranteed to elicit a few comments, such as that in the title of this blog. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you saw my profile picture and fell in love. You should have gone beyond the photo. Had I received such a message from someone I care about, I’d love it, but from you, I find it creepy.

From what I could find out from the minimal contact information available through Messenger, I see he studied at some institute in Lagos. The fact he’s from or in Nigeria automatically sends up red flares. I know it’s a generalization, but so many online scams seem to originate in Nigeria (Nigerian prince anyone?) that I view any correspondence from there, unless in response to something I’ve sent, with suspicion.

One more thing Odi, such a message is not the best way to attempt to start an online friendship with someone. My first impression is that you’re infatuated with a photograph and to me it approaches stalking. So, in future, just don’t. This message assumes, falsely I might add, that I find, or will find, you just as fascinating as you apparently find me. No, I’m not flattered. The comment in the message “I am so grateful I met you” is also very off-putting for the only place we’ve met is in your mind.

Oh yes, also as I said above, I already have someone in my life.

Finally, as I said in the title “who the hell are you?”

Cat.

Whatever strikes my fancy

I’m a writer and photographer. I’m working on my autobiography. Funny thing, but if people learn this they will often ask “is it finished yet?” Umm, unless you’re using a spirit board to ask that, the answer is obviously “No”. I’ve stopped it at the point I received my new birth certificate with new name and gender, but I’m still here so it could continue.

I write speculative fiction, also called science fiction and mystery and these pieces usually start with asking myself “what if …?”, then answering that question. That “what if …” could be on any topic – as the title indicates “whatever strikes my fancy”. I’ve destroyed cities and other planets (usually with classical music playing in the background as I write) and in the late nineties I chronicled a war that destroyed this planet. What prompted that was the debate over whether the 21st century would start January 1, 2000 or 2001. I think the answer depends if you ask an historian or a mathematician.

With my blogs, again I write about any topic that strikes my fancy or irritates me. I enjoy writing about various online scams as warnings to my readers. For the most part I stay away from American politics. I’m not American so unless what’s-his-name in the White House had done or said something exceedingly stupid, I ignore it. Having said that, living in Canada and being reasonably intelligent, I am aware that events in the U S may and can have a tremendous effect on us as well, so I do pay attention to American politics. I have however taken Canadian federal politicians to task on many occasions over their pronouncements or actions. And with the current regime in Queen’s Park, I can see that Ontario Premier Doug Ford will become a frequent target.

I prefer to write and edit in longhand, then once I’m satisfied I transcribe to the computer. By doing so, if inspiration strikes while I’m out I can capture the thought at the moment as I usually carry paper and pen.

I use this same approach with my photography. If something catches my eye, I’ll take a photo. A flower, a sign, interesting architecture, a scenic vista or sometihng whimsical such as this shot below taken outside a local shop on my phone, it doesn’t matter. There are occasion , such as grocery shopping, when carrying a camera is too awkward, by my phone has an excellent camera.

I use digital cameras (Canon ever since my first film SLR in the seventies) and have what I consider to be good software – Corel Paintshop Pro for processing. I can usually find something in the raw image to turn into a photo. And of course, by using digital cameras and processing, “undo” and “delete” have become my best friends.

I’ve had various people who like my work suggest to me I should give courses in both writing and photography. Such course would be very short indeed for here’s what I’d say:

Writing: write about what interests you. If that requires research, great – you’ll learn something new. If writing fiction or topical blogs, write the way you speak. If people who know you read it, they’ll hear your voice speaking the words and for others, it will sound more natural. Don’t use what I call “ten dollar words” in an attempt to sound more intelligent. If you don’t normally use them in everyday vocabulary, you’ll probably use them incorrectly.

Photography: if it catches your eye, snap it and sort it out later. Remember, “delete” can be a powerful tool.

There’s the essence of any courses I’d give.

Now, go create something and remember to hug an artist, no matter what their field of endeavour, for we need love too. And to my Canadian followers and visitors, have a safe and happy Canada Day weekend.

Cat.

The Nigerian prince has moved

I received the following email in a junk file this morning. I’ve removed the email address to keep myself out of trouble with WordPress (again).

From: MrDanielMminele

FROM THE DESK OF MR.DANIEL MMINELE
Direct Phone No: + 27 82 4026 229
Private Email: contact.danielmminel@

Dear Sir/Madam,

Peace Be Upon You,

My name is Mr. Daniel Mminele, I am currently working with a Financial Institution based here in South Africa. We offer short and long terms Loans which are tailored to meet important financing needs in the Agricultural, Industrial and Constructional production circle in the whole of the Southern Africa and beyond.

I am contacting you to partner with me to secure the funds US$ 42 Million United States Dollars deposited in the custody of our Bank here in South Africa by LATE MR. ALEXANDER VEREMEEVSKIY, a Russian Businessman and Investor who was involve in the Fly-Dubai Flight 981, a Boeing 737- 800, an International Passenger Flight that crashed during an aborted Landing due to poor weather at Rostov-on-Don Airport, Russia, on 19th of March 2016, resulting in the deaths of all the 62 Passengers and Crew Members on Board, May their souls rest in Peace. The fund was deposited as an Investment fund in 2015 with an open beneficiary. The fund has been with the Bank without anybody coming up for the claims.

I honestly seek your assistance to move these funds into your custody for safe keeping and investment purposes as the depositor has no known Next of kin. I have all the Legal documents necessary to claim the funds as I am directly involved in the deposits. All I need to do is to make you the beneficiary of the fund by filling your name in the appropriate documents and immediately move the funds out of its present place in your name to your account for safe keeping. The funds will be used for Investment purposes in your country as i have planned on investing my own share in a lucrative business venture and settling with my family.

I decided to this as i know all the circumstances surrounding the deposits and knowing very well that the depositor of the fund will not come back to claim the funds since he is deceased. I will send to you all the documents relating to this deposit and direct you on how to apply for the fund. I will give you further details when I receive a positive response from you on this issue. I will ensure all procedures to see the successful completion of this project.

I assure you that this transaction is 100% Risk Free .Be rest assured that we will not encounter any difficulty as the person directly involved in approving the release of the fund is also participating in this transaction. This transaction is Legal and we propose a 60-30% sharing pattern once the fund is transferred to your Account while the remaining 10% will be for all the expensive we might incur during the cause of the transfer.

Please keep this transaction very confidential and let me know if you will be of any assistance.

Best Regards,
Mr. Daniel Mminele.
Direct Phone No: + 27 82 4026 229
Private Email: contact.danielmminele@

******************************************************************************************************************************************************
The information in the Email and/or attachment(s) is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 U.S.C. 2510-2521. It may be confidential and/or privileged and is intended solely for the person or entity to which it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient or an agent responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, you have received it in error. The review, dissemination, copying, or taking of any action based on the contents thereof is strictly prohibited. If you have received this Email in error, please advise the sender by reply Email and then delete it and any attachment(s) from your system immediately. Thank you. *********************************************************************************************************************************************************

Interesting, isn’t it? First, this wasn’t sent to me personally. The “Dear Sir/Madam” is a good indicator this is a shotgun style scam. The generic salutation is designed to rope in anyone gullible enough to fall for it. Another sign this is intended to rope in as many people as possible is the “Peace Be Upon You”, which is a common salutation for those who follow Islam. Again, make the mark feel comfortable.

Notice this person doesn’t name the “bank” which employs him, nor does he use an email address that would appear to be that of a financial institution. The amount of $42 million US is certainly attractive. Based on the offered split, the recipient would be looking at a $12.6 million windfall. If this were real. The specific details of the crash are intended to encourage the mark to check to see if such a crash actually took place. I didn’t check it myself but presume the sender used an actual accident to show the veracity of the balance of his claims. But to my mind, the details are too specific, almost as if they were taken directly from a crash report.

The disclaimer at the bottom of the email is a nice touch but, if this is purportedly being sent from South Africa (no city – just a generic “South Africa”), why is he quoting US law and not the corresponding South African legislation?

Consider this as well: If someone is investing over forty million in any currency, chances are this is not an individual’s own funds, but if from a company. And you can be certain a company would know where $42,000,000 of their money is at any given time.

And now, the kicker in this: The email showed as being sent from: “Mr.DanielMminele” with a return email address at gmail. The actual sender turned out to be someone using the address “m_h_bruce834″ with a Yahoo address.

So, if you were to fall for this and send Mr Bruce the requested information, you wouldn’t find twelve point six million magically appearing in your account. It is much more likely you’d find your own balance diminishing at an astounding rate.

If you get this, or anything like this, don’t fall for it. As I said in the title, the Nigerian prince has moved, but it’s still the same scam.

Cat.