Making the Most of the Internet - Blog


Monday, June 26, 2006

No Barclays and All Nationwide


Have the crooks decided to move all of their attacks from Barclays to Nationwide?

Over the last few days, I've had none for Barclays and about thirty every day for Nationwide Building Society. Interestingly, I don't think they are the same group who attacked Barclays, as the pattern is different. The Nationwide attacks tend to come in small groups of two or three, whereas those for Barclays come in larger bunches.

Interestingly, I note that Nationwide add your post code to every e-mail they send you. That sounds a simple idea that might help the careful to identify the good from the poison.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Have NatWest and Nationwide Merged?


Take a good look at this bank phishing e-mail.

A Nationwide Bank Phishing E-Mail - Click for large

A few points to note :-

1. The e-mail address of This is why I put the header.
2. Nationwide is spelt as Nation Wide. Certainly English is not their native tongue.
3. There is an extra semi-colon between the two logos at the top of the e-mail.
4. The text in the e-mail is not very professional. The capitalisation and use of commas is not what you'd expect of a professional organisation like Nationwide Building Society.
5. What does Reference * mean?
6. The URL points to which is registered to Media Temple in Culver City, California.
7. Have you ever heard anybody talk about Customers Service.

At least they got the spelling of Nationwide Building Society correct in the last line.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Reputable Banks Don't Go Phishing


There was a letter in The Independent yesterday from Stuart Dawkins at the Alliance and Leicester, about how the banks are not responsible for phishing scams and customers should be more vigilant.

I wrote a letter to the paper.

For some years now, I have been collecting phishing e-mails. My method of collection may not be one hundred percent scientifically correct, but as I collect about 1000 spam e-mails a day, it gives a pretty good indication of the scale of the problem.

In the last few weeks from the 17th May until the 20th June, I have collected a total of 1,727 phishing e-mails aimed at the customers of banks, credit cards and financial institutions . The break-down is as follows :-

Barclays - 1,236
Co-Operative Bank - 173
MBNA - 110
HSBC - 23
Lloyds TSB - 11
PayPal - 7
Halifax - 6
Egg - 4
Alliance and Leicester - 21
Abbey - 3
NatWest - 1

In addition there were 106 e-mails aimed at the customers of foreign banks. I used to get a lot more of this category of e-mails, but it would appear that they have substantially decreased.

Stuart Dawkins just gives the standard response, about how the banks don't send them and about not replying to such e-mails.

The banks may not send these e-mails, but I don't think they do enough to stop them and hence protect their customers. But then if the customer gets his account emptied by a crook, it's up to him to prove to the bank that he's been a victim of crime. So I can understand their apparent complacency.

It surprises me that seventy-one percent are aimed at Barclays. I leave everybody to draw their own conclusions.

James Miller
It will be interested if I get a response from any bank.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Getting Listed


People always expect their web site to be listed immediately. Obviously as Google and the other search engines don't read every site every day, it takes a few weeks to get listed.

This blog has just been added to Google with the first listing on the 13th June 2006.

If you want to test that your site is actually listed take a phrase that won't appear anywhere else and use that. In this site I used "Spam Fighting with Outlook 2003".

The big rule of getting listed is be patient and don't get angry with the search engines.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Purchase Scam


We've been advertising a car on Auto Trader.

I got an e-mail from someone supposedly with a Chinese name from a Yahoo e-mail address. He offered to pay the full price for the car and would send his agent round.

I was a bit suspicious, so I asked for his address and said that the car would not be released until the cheque or banker's draft had been cleared by my bank.

I didn't hear another word!

Draw your own conclusions.


Poor E-Mail Management from ASDA


A couple of months ago, I started getting e-mails to from both ASDA and Tesco. The address does not exist and I have no connection with any Wingfield Hotel.

I tried to login to both sites and couldn't remove myself from the list as I hadn't created the entry.

So I wrote to both ASDA and Tesco. For a bit of fun, I enclosed the letter to ASDA in the one to Tesco and vice versa.

After a month or so, I got a charming e-mail from Tesco.

Thank you for your letter regarding the above, after some investigation and difficulty in getting hold of Mr & Mrs Wright at the Wingfield Hotel I have an explanation for you. According to Mr Wright, his wife made a mistake when registering on our website and that of ASDA, their email address is the, a pleasant place to stay apparently, but unlikely to get much business if they make the same mistake in advertising.

We have updated our database to ensure we direct any future email correctly, I'm sorry if this has caused you an inconvenience.

Good luck with Daisy Analysis Ltd.


Crawford Davidson

Marketing Director
As not a word has been heard from ASDA, I've sent a complaint to the Information Commissioner.

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Call Centres


Are we starting to see the end of the dumb call centre?

On the BBC News tonight, they were talking about PowerGen bringing one of its call centres back to the UK from India.

But this will only create about 400 jobs in the UK.

Perhaps, more and more people are using the Internet to deal with PowerGen.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Mice and Baby Wipes


In this hot weather, the mice are getting stuck to the mouse mat and the desktop. This is because your hand sweats and leaves muck all over the surface.

Make sure you have some baby wipes handy to improve their sliding performance.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Barclays Bank Phishing E-Mails Start Again


This note is a follow up to my previous note on Bank Phishing scams of the 1st of June. At that point it appeared that the attacks on Barclays and their customers may have stopped.

Barclays Again - Click for large

The graph shows all bank phishing scams I have received from the 5th of May until the 10th of June to about ten different web domain names.

As before, in the graph, blue are messages supposedly from Barclays and red shows other smaller attack on the Co-Operative Bank. Cream is attacks on PayPal accounts, light blue is anything outside of the UK and all other UK phishing is green.

The great majority of the new attacks on Barclays customers are very similar to many of those that occurred before the 19th of May. Could it be that the crooks and their servers had been located and supposedly destroyed, but that the interruption was only an irritance?

A note is now available for downloading and distribution which gives a full analysis.

Barclays Bank Phishing E-Mails Start Again

Feel free to read and distribute as you require.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Google Spreadsheets


This is a very interesting development.

Watch it!

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Thoughts on Search Engine Optimisation


Take my main web site

If you search for James Miller, I'm usually in the top four, despite not being by any means the most famous and the fact that my name is one of the most common in the world. I'm second today, behind the film maker who was murdered by the Israeli Army. (It's actually quite chilling to hear your name mentioned in such terrible circumstances.)

So why do I think I'm consistently high.

1. There is a lot of text on a wide range of subjects.
2. I have a blog, which is updated regularly.
3. I have a book on lulu, which gets a large number of hits and the two are linked.
4. I have put a large number of pictures on the site, that are all indexed in Google.

On the other hand I don't use Ads on the site or to promote it.

I've just started a web site for a large group of lawyers in the Midlands of England; Nottingham, Derby, Mansfield, Leicester etc. One of the things I'm doing to make the site lively, is to add an interesting set of pictures to the banner on the site. I've also decided to put a free library of these pictures on the site, so that it helps with searching.

It'll be interesting to see if it does work.


A Week of Spam


For the first seven days in June 2006, I’ve taken all of the spam that I’ve received and put it in different categories. What I receive may or may not be typical of what is going round the Internet and ending in Inboxes all over the world, but we are certainly able to make some interesting observations.

A Week of Spam - Click for large

In that time I actually received 7,366 messages or just over a 1,000 a day. The chart shows how the spam is split into various categories, such as prescription drugs, casino enticements, pornography, fake luxury goods, cheap software and pump and dump scams.

A note is now available for downloading and distribution which gives a full analysis.

A Week of Spam

Feel free to read and distribute as you require.


Google Pharmacy Update


For full details see the article in The Register.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New Google Pharmacy


This was the e-mail I received today.

It actually came from an e-mail address on GMail, but I am pretty sure it is nothing to do with Google.

Well I hope it isn't!

If you read it carefully, there are mistakes in the English. Surely Google would be more professional.


Monday, June 05, 2006

More Barclays Phishing Scams


I got 35 scams attacking Barclays customers yesterday.

They were all the same, except for different e-mail addresses and different URLs to go to get conned.

Some had a URL of, which probably is a clue to where they came from.

Come on Mr. Putin, please do something to protect us all from these crooks.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Note - Ransomware


A note is now available for downloading and distribution on this subject.


Feel free to read and distribute as you require.


Checking Links with Outlook 2003


Outlook 2003 has a very useful feature for checking whether an e-mail is from the person you think it is.

Look at this fragment of an e-mail supposedly from HSBC.

Phishing E-Mail Fragment - Click for full e-mail

Note how I've moved the mouse over the URL in the e-mail and Outlook 2003 shows what the real URL is. What has got to do with HSBC?

Nothing! This e-mail is a phishing scam.

Who the hell is CACATUL anyway?

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This seems to be the latest hideous scam. Perhaps those who targeted Barclays have found themselves a whole new set of victims.

Their methods are described in this piece on the BBC.

This type of scam shows how you must keep your virus and spyware protection up to date. It also shows the value of keeping good backups, as the lady in the story obviously didn't take this basic precaution.

If you want to try it my backup program is Daisy AutoBackup/FTP.

The link goes to the program's web site.

One of the good points about ransomware, is that as it such a vile threat, it will probably affect someone of influence and power. They might persuade technophobic Tony to have a word with Bush and Putin about spammers and other on-line criminals.