Friday 15 February 2013

When a scam comes together

What a beautiful little scam.

Pornoscams have been around for a while. First, an industry came up harvesting settlements from folks too embarrassed to have themselves named in suits for downloading the likes of "Nude Nuns with Big Guns." I'll claim a bit of prescience in having predicted this as a potential business model for porn in the age of Tube sites.

This one's as good. And, it displays some Kiwi ingenuity.
Porn site users are being conned by scammers using the New Zealand police logo.
New Zealand's finest are warning the users of adult websites the scam, which interrupts a users web session, has nothing to do with them.
The message featuring the police logo appears on their computer screen saying they have been fined for using the x-rated site and need to enter banking details and pay an instant fine.
Police have received a handful of calls about the scam from people believing the message is from them.
In at least one case a person's computer was frozen and they were advised it would remain frozen until they paid the fee into the account.
Police says they have no association with any of the websites and suggest users avoid accessing such sites. 
Calling Bruce Schneier...

Even more clever might be this twist on the scheme.

Some places make it illegal to host or view computer-generated pictures purporting to display minors; some places say fiction isn't a crime. So you can get arrested for looking at the Microsoft Paint pictures somebody drew of the Simpsons, depending on where you are. Get a server in a place where it isn't illegal to host fiction or CGI representations that are illegal to view in other regions. Watch the IP logs for people coming in from countries where viewing that content is illegal. Take their IP address and the browser stats that are basically a unique identifier, or close to it. Then put up the "We will contact the police in your country if you don't pay up" warning. People would know that the current Kiwi operation is a scam because looking at pornography isn't really illegal, and there's no way that the NZ Police would run this kind of instant-fine scheme. But the one I'm proposing... you could make pretty credible threats. Run the site for a few months without the extortion part so it can get a decent page rank for that kind of thing. Make sure there's no malware on the site or anything that might put off would-be targets. Then run the extortion scheme.

I am not advocating that anybody do this. It might be evil, depending on what you think about people who like to read stories about pedophilia, and whether you think reading fiction about pedophilia or looking at CGI pictures of same is a complement or a substitute for actual pedophilia. But it would be clever and it would work. I'm not even sure if it would be illegal to do it - it would have to depend on the jurisdiction from which you're hosting.

Come to think of it, I'd be surprised if nobody were already doing this. It looks like $20 on the sidewalk.

HT: Luis


  1. I once found $20 next to a bus stop on Queens Street. Because of economics, I stared at it for several minutes trying to work out whether it was a hidden camera joke, or piece of street art.

  2. Run-on sentences would have killed me if the generally bad writing didn't already send me to the emergency ward.

    Surprised Bruce bothered to link here.

  3. I think you meant to have said "...hadn't already sent me to the emergency ward." You need the conditional tense. Small thing though - don't sweat it.