Fraudsters plumb new depths

Internet fraudsters have never shied away from dirty tricks, but the latest scam to hit Aussie and New Zealand email inboxes plumbs new depths.

Masquerading as a message from Westpac Bank in Australia, the email solicits donations for the country’s Paralympics team for the Athens games in August.

These types of scams are known as “phishes”. The current one, however, is more elaborate than previous ones, which have simply employed deceptive URLs to lure email recipients to bogus websites.

Westpac is actually the official sponsor for the Paralympians and there is a legitimate request for donations, which can be seen on the bank's website.

But when Computerworld analysed the bogus message and traced it to a site hosted in the US, it was noticed that a seemingly empty web page was loaded as well. The page contains encrypted Javascript that takes advantage of an exploit for unpatched versions of Windows, and which attempts to download two files from the website.

The last of the two files is a variant of the “Bizez” trojan horse, according to Nick FitzGerald, an antivirus researcher and consultant in Christchurch. FitzGerald says Bizex contains what’s know as a “keylogger”, a small application that surreptitiously keeps track what users type. In this case, Bizex would log users’ credit card numbers as they type them in to make the donations.

This means the scammers don’t need to set up bogus websites to obtain people’s credit card numbers –- rather they could simply direct victims to the correct payments processor and the donation would be made. The card numbers could then be used by the scammers.

Craig Hobbs, the executive director of New Zealand’s Paralympics team, expressed disgust and concern at the scam.

“It’s hard enough as it is to get people to donate without these things coming along and creating suspicion.”

Having limited resources to organise physical fund-raising, Hobbs said that using the internet and postal campaigns was attractive for the New Zealand Paralympians, as it can reach many people cheaply.

Hobbs immediately alerted his Australian counterparts when told by Computerworld of the scam. As of writing, however, the US website is still up. Apart from the Westpac scam, the site contains advertisements for credit card “skimmers” (hand-held magnetic strip readers) and dubious-sounding online money transfer systems.

Computerworld alerted both the site hosting service and Westpac Australia to the scam, but received no reply before deadline.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juha Saarinen

IDG New Zealand
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?