Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Porn Police, Spam Scams, Ignorance, and Your Alias

Awhile back a neighbor left a message on my phone.  She said that Microsoft had contacted her about the porn server that she was running on her computer and that she is now having to pay over $400 to have it removed.  Well I just laughed and thought, someone is going to straighten her out on this I thought, as it was so wrong that I didn’t even know where to begin to explain how impossible this was (I’ll explain that in a moment).  That is, I didn’t know were to begin to try to explain to someone like this who could not understand enough logic to fall for a scam like that.

It’s My Fault I Suppose
Her main concern for calling me in the first place is because I work with the local Internet ISP and service our local relay.  So she is thinking that it is one of our neighbors that is running this porn server.  The confusion just kept coming.  You see, they convinced her that this “porn server” it was not only on her computer but her router, her phone, and apparently someone close by was doing it.  And she bought what they told her.  She probably thought, and told everyone, that it was likely me running this porn server.  I mentioned earlier that it was impossible that this was going on here because I monitor and graph the local relay data, so I knew no one around here was running a server to any degree.

As Time Goes By
It turned out, as I found, that not only did her family and friends not set her straight on this but that they even thought it was legit.  They told me that this “Microsoft” had shown here the site she was hosting and after she paid them handsomely they showed her that it had been taken down.  Wow!  Again, I don’t even know where to begin to explain to these people that they are falling for a scam.

What’s Wrong Here
First, Microsoft is not the Porn Police.  They do not care if you are hosting pornography.  It happens.
Second, pornography is not illegal unless it’s child porn, then Microsoft does not email you about it — the FBI comes knocking on your door for that!  (As they should)
It needs also to be noted, if you haven’t realized yet, that this “Microsoft” is not the real Microsoft.   These are criminals scamming people.

The True Crime
By the time I did talk with her about this and told her that it is a scam and they are going to keep coming back to you in a few months because they got her to install a back-door for them to play with her computer (and because they have a sucker on the line).  She told me that they already have come back and that she, at that point, has paid them over $1500… for nothing but a scam.  I’m in the wrong business I thought.  This is child’s play to give someone the impression that they are running a porn server (or whatever) and give them an IP address for them to view it at to “prove it”.  Then just take down what you have put up in the first place — after they pay you.  This is the crime, not some porn server.

How Does This Work
Fear and intimidation my friends.  With a dash of embarrassment thrown in for good measure.  These leaches fish for people that will bite at their bait.  They bait you with something that you fear, or something that you are passionate about.  A nice housewife doesn’t want to be running a porn server does she?  Why she would pay good money to get that taken care of.  In ignorance and fear we act in haste.  She could have replaced all of the supposedly infected devices with new ones for less money then she paid these scam artists to supposedly remove the “problem”.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, they appear as legitimate corporations, institutions, or businesses.  This one posed as Microsoft.  You gotta trust Microsoft right?  But they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

While I’m still not sure she believes me that she has been scammed.  It has made me aware of the vast ignorance of things Internet and how technology works.  Meanwhile those of us who understand that this “thing” that happened to her is not possible (in her case) and not probable in most cases.  Even if you were doing what they said, what is that to them?  After all, maybe you ARE running a porn server.  There are people doing that sort of thing on the Internet — so I’ve heard.

What To Do
First, do nothing.  Second, quit opening spam emails.  Third, get off the Internet.
If you’re not smart enough to know if you’re doing something or not, of if it’s even possible, then you should not even be on a computer or the Internet.

Okay, if you’re going to stay online then at least do these things.

     1) Create a pen name.  Spam and scams are the main reason I advise everyone to never use your real name on the Internet.  Only your online banking and very important stuff like that should know who you really are. 
     2) Get another email address to use with that pen name and use that for everything aside from your critical transactions like banking.  This way when you get seemingly important emails from your bank but they are not using your banking email or your real name, then you know it’s a scam.  It makes it simple.

Got It?
One of the first things you should do in these cases is to contact your local ISP (Internet service provider) and ask them if they know anything about it, or if it is even possible that it is going on.
Any questions?