Phishing is an email fraud method in which the perpetrator sends out legitimate-looking email in an attempt to gather personal and financial information from recipients ... A phishing expedition, like the fishing expedition it's named for, is a speculative venture: the phisher puts out the lure hoping to fool at least a few of the prey that encounter the bait.
If you have a Yahoo or Google email account, go into the file they reserve for spam and the chances are pretty good you'll come up with some passing fair examples of phishing. Below are a couple that I found this morning. Grammatical and spelling errors are from the phishers themselves, and are left intact here to preserve the flavor.
From the Desk of Mr. Isdore Ben
External Review Committee in Debt
Skye Bank Nigeria PLC.
Date 1st Day of June, 2010
DEAR SIR/ AM.
We wish to inform you that you have been scheduled to be paid $10,000,000 through our Automated teller machine card (ATM Card) which you will only be required to proceed to any ATM Cash Point to withdraw the sum of $2000 per day till the payment is completed. You are advised to contact me ASAP via my email address so that I can deposit your ATM/mastercard fo FedEx for them to deliver your ATM/Master Card to your given address in your Home Country less than THREE WORING Days (3 DAYS).
Kindly confirm your information where to send your ATM/MASTERCARD
1) Full Name
2) Full Address
5) zip code
6) Valid Phone Number
8) Current Occupation
This information will be used to process your billing card address where you would be receiving your monthly statement on card transactions made.
Mr. Isdador Ben
External Review Committe On Debt.
Skye Bank Nigeria PLC.
The next example is quite brief and to the point. The author apparently seeing no point in attempting to weave a tale around the request. He just wants your information.
Date: Saturday, May 29, 2010, 11:11 AM
You have been awarded a donation funds of $1,350,000 usd. Contact Mr Simons Regiado with the following information.
Name, Address, Age, Occupation, Tel, Counry
Beacon Media, home to many local free distribution throwaway publications including the Sierra Madre Weekly, are not technically participating in phishing because they have not made their personal information request by email. Rather they do it on their website.
Beacon Media is currently conducting their "Reader's Choice 2010 Survey." This is where they aim to determine your favorite restaurants, clothes stores, and other sundry consumer shops and stops. And you, as one of their readers, are invited to give your opinions on these important matters. To check it all out click on this link. Once you arrive at the Sierra Madre Weekly webpage, go to the upper right hand corner and click on the VOTE ONLINE box. Which, rather than taking you to the survey you might have expected, links to a questionnaire where you'll be asked to volunteer some very personal information. Only after you have forked over that material will you be permitted the privilege of taking a survey about your local consumption preferences.
Here are the questions you are expected to answer before being allowed to participate in the Beacon Media Readers Choice 2010 Survey.
Your Name _____________________ (required)
Email _________________________ (valid email required)
Phone # _________________________ (required)
Age Range: (required)
(45 or older)
Are you a homeowner? ____________ (required)
Avg. Houshold (sic) Income (required)
($10,000 - $15,000)
($15,000 - $30,000)
($30,000 - $45,000)
($45,000 - $100,000)
($100,000 or more)
They then go on to ask some questions about your news and media preferences, if you read their fine publications, and do you leave them around your home so the other inmates can look at them. Including, I suppose, the house budgie. All required, of course. Only after you have divulged what seems like some very proprietary information are you given the privilege of telling them about where you enjoy going for yogurt, or if you prefer Supercuts over Tress Excess. Or whatever that place is called.
But this does beg a very simple question. Why does Beacon Media need to know about stuff you probably wouldn't even tell people you know? Questions that are very similar in scope to those being asked by the phishers from Nigeria? In exchange for an opportunity to tell all about your favorite nail salon in Monrovia? Pretty lousy deal if you ask me.
Of course, the overseas phishers are trying to get into your bank account. And, once they obtain the keys to your financial kingdom, will proceed to suck every dime they can out of it. But what is Beacon Media's angle? What exactly are they after?
There are two things some companies do with information like that. They can either sell it to marketers interested in targeting certain demographics, or they might use it as an inducement to attract advertising. Local businesses being quite interested in getting their hands on the email addresses, locations, and phone numbers of "housholds" having six figure incomes. Think of the fun dinner time calls you could be getting!
Personally, I believe you'd have to be nuts to hand over information like that to people you don't even know, and therefore should not trust. No matter how many stories about dog washes and baby parades they run in their papers.
But there is a sucker born every minute, I guess.