Making the Most of the Internet - Blog


Friday, December 01, 2006

Athens Financial Group


This scam illustrates the problem with the Internet.

I have received a large number of job offers to work as a Financial Controller for Athens Financial Group based in Athens. But not Athens in anywhere we know, as the web site behind the company is registered in China.

The problem is that everybody in the Internet business with any sense knows it is a scam that either launders money or relieves your bank account of all its money. Neither is a good prospect.

But until someone loses their money and complains, there is very little that can be done, as although to send these e-mails may be an offence in the EU, the US, Australia and others, it won't be an offence in the country from where they come. Even if it was an offence, I suspect that the police there wouldn't know what to do.

The spam message is also not offensive, pornographic or against anybody's sensibilities. It's just annoying and we are getting so used to spam, that we're now desensitised to it.

Look at the graph below which shows all of the spam messages that I've received in November 2006.

November Spam E-Mails - Click for large

Bank Phishing scams are shown in red, the Athens Financial scams in green and the other rubbish in blue.

I received a total of 12355 Bank Phishing scams and 10568 Athens Financial scams out of a total of 195912 spam messages. These represent six point three and five point four percent respectively. Or put another way well over ten per cent are serious financial scams!

So this one scam is responsible for one in twenty of all messages sent to me. Is it replicated around the Internet? Remember though that all spammers seem to use the same list as they appear to pass names between themselves. So as my spam estimates seem to be in line with those published by others, I don't think that the estimate that five percent of all spam in November is down to this one scam is too far from the truth.

So why does it appear that little has been done about it? The only thing you can notice is that messages halved about the tenth of November.

The other thing I looked at was what proportion of the 10568 Athens Financial scams were actually sent to valid e-mail addresses. It was only 642 or six percent.

All of the other messages were sent to e-mail addresses made up by spammers on the domains I watch. I don't think my domains are unique in being treated this way, so how many of the messages going around the Internet are to non-existent e-mail addresses? These then get blocked by the server and a return message is then sent.

So why should spammers make up e-mail addresses?

They get paid by the million, so as there are only a finite number of legitimate e-mail addresses, what better way to increase turnover than make some up. After all they are crooks anyway, so they don't really have any problems with that!

This scam illustrates the main problem with spam. No-one takes responsibility in stopping it. This one has been going on for a month, usually based on domain names registered in China.

Have the Chinese authorities done anything about it?

Pull the other one! The cash flow is probably good for business.



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