It’s Still Not Safe To Go Out


Microsoft Smartscan knows what it's doing

A Viagra scam

Yes, I know. You can’t read the email. Never mind. I’ll walk you through it. Nobody was hurt. There are no bodies, but it’s nonetheless an irritating intrusion.

The email pretends to come from Facebook, and it tells me that I have two unanswered emails there awaiting my attention. It also, correctly, tells me that I haven’t looked at my Facebook page for a while. So, I tried to sign in but the green Sign In button wasn’t clickable: Clue Number One.

The pink strip at the top of the email says, “Microsoft SmartScreen has blocked this message for your safety and we’ll delete it after ten days,” which isn’t particularly grammatical, but what can you expect from geeks? Nonetheless: Clue Number Two.

The next line says, “Show Content.” So I clicked it and was immediately taken to a site offering me Viagra (how do they know to target me? I’d buy it if only I didn’t know the Viagra they’re selling is made of sawdust and fermented earwigs): Clue Number Three.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The address of the sender is hidden behind what possibly seems to be a valid Facebook email sending address. It is:

But no Facebook email that I’ve ever seen looks like this. Clue Number Four.

However, that, my old China, is not all. The clickable link in the fawn box at the foot of the scam is actually clickable, but the warning from Microsoft is so terrifying that I would rather sacrifice my first-born child than click the link. Clue Number Five.

So, this email contained five clear signs that it was spam, and that it probably contained something malicious. I ran a full scan, using Norton, last night. All 2.75 million items which were scanned were clean. I’ll just have to run the thing again tonight, as you, too, will need to do if you use Hotmail, ignore SmartScreen, and get taken in by one of these emails.