mr_pandakun (mr_pandakun) wrote,

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"Brighter Futures Charter School" link scam

Public service message for other IT people out there, pass it on where appropriate:

One of our sister companies got an e-mail from someone claiming to be Cassandra Smith from a school called "Brighter Futures Charter School":
From: Cassandra Smith []
Sent: Wednesday, January 04, 2012 7:19 AM
Subject: Suggestion and compliments on your site,!

Good morning!

My name is Ms. Smith and I am a Science teacher for some wonderful students
at Brighter Futures Charter School in California. We are currently learning
about global warming and I just wanted to let you know that we have been
using your page, . It's been so
helpful for our project in class. My students just absolutely loved your

One of my students, Samantha, came to me with another resource that was very

She thought it would be a perfect addition to your site of already valuable
resources! (She is always going above and beyond...such a great kid!)

Would you mind adding it to your resource list? I, too, think it is a great
resource and I would love to show her that her hard work has paid off! I
know that if she saw it up on your page she would be delighted!

P.S. I've decided that Samantha will be rewarded with our "Student of the
Month" award for her special find and a good deed done well, so please let
me know if you decided to add it. :-)

Have a fantastic day!

Cassandra Smith

"The surest way not to fail is to determine to succeed."
-Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Okay, so the link they send is the first warning sign: Why would there be any useful information about global warming on a site dedicated to wholesales? Looking there, at the bottom you'll see a bunch of links to other shifty retail sites. This is search result scamming, where a shifty marketer will create a fake webpage with copied material from somewhere else, then put links to other sites within that page - usually out of site. When Google does its magic of determining what sites should get top results, one of it's methods is to look for unique and legitimate links to a site. If you can hide these links in legitimate sites (or legitimate appearing ones), then Google's engines determine that they're valid and bump the search results up higher.

As there's real, direct money in this the marketer will usually spend some time carefully crafting bogus websites and well constructed e-mails above to start the campaign. The receiver of this email did some quick checking around, and thought it looked a bit off when he visited the wholesale site - which was an excellent catch. Here's the other: when you go to Brighter Future's webpage, there's something really important missing - names. Place names and people's names are just not there, nor are specifics about programs and that sort of thing. Just very generic text. For contacting them, they just have a bunch of empty fields to create a comment in. What about a mailing address, phone or fax number? Nope.

In a word, fake. Potentially harmful too, as search results for other links yielded links to hijacked and virus payloaded websites.
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