Beware: Internet Scammers are on the Prowl

03/28/2012

Scammers must really believe in the sentiment of “Work smarter, not harder.” As many of us work our tails off, scammers across the world are sitting on their tails, using technology to try to rob us of the money we trade our limited time on this planet for.

I just received an email in my spam folder, and it was automatically filed in that category for good reason. The email looked genuine and even included my first and last name, but it was from Paypall.com. That’s right “Paypall,” with two Ls. Of course, our lexicon is changing fast, with cute little portmanteaus like “pinterest,” “turducken,” and “Bennifer” being made up all the time. One thing I do know for sure is that Paypal hasn’t recently decided to fight against our society’s obsession with making words and phrases shorter by adding an extra, unnecessary letter to the company letterhead.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded… if there is something fishy about an email that shows up in your inbox, DO NOT click any links contained within the message. If it claims to be from your bank, utility company, or whatever, open a new window in your browser and type in that company’s website address directly to access your account.

Also, most – if not all – email service providers have an option somewhere to allow you to look at the “message source.” Looking at that initially looks like a bunch of jarbled, random code but, in most cases, it will show you the true source of an email. This “paypall” message originated from the website “paypal.com.d8kn4uztcel3gh5zl.12bjf74ku6v1v.com.” If that addy isn’t a weird one, I don’t know what is.

Breaking down that website address is slightly technical, so bear with me:

The website’s host domain is always what comes immediately before the “.com”. Everything before that is a subdomain. You can think of a subdomain simply as a folder for organizing a website, in the same way you keep folders on your computer to organize music, video, documents, etc. For example, yahoo.com has a ton of content, so they use subdomains like sports.yahoo.com, news.yahoo.com, and movies.yahoo.com.

So basically, the “paypal” part of that long address above has NOTHING to do with “paypal.com.” Rather, “paypal” is the name of a folder within another folder called “com.” The “com” folder is within a folder called “d8kn4uztcel3gh5zl.” That main folder is hosted on the website “12bjf74ku6v1v.com.” It’s difficult to find any reason why Paypal would own such a randomized website address like “12bjf74ku6v1v.com.”

Again, never, ever click on suspicious links or any junk email for that matter. In some cases, clicking “unsubscribe” is just a way to show spammers that your email address is active, which turns into an invitation to bombard your accounts with all kinds of messages you would rather not receive.

p.s. I changed a couple of the random characters in the spammer’s website link posted earlier. I don’t want anyone to even try to visit that link because it seems like a really, really bad idea.

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