back to article PDF spam tsunami hits email inboxes

An aggressive spam campaign designed to ramp up the share price of a convenience store firm led to a 30 per cent increase in the volume of spam circulating across the net at its peak on Tuesday, according to net security firm Sophos. The junk mail messages, containing an attached PDF file, urge recipients to buy shares in a a …

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Anonymous Coward

It never fails to amaze me ...

... that people are so stupid as to enter into financial transactions based on random emails.

I've seen a lot of empty emails with PDF attachments turn up in my girlfriend's account, but I marked them as junk without looking at them.

Thunderbird appears unable to 'learn' that these emails are junk, so it's back to the manual filtering for now.

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OpenSource rules

When started this mess i've felt myself without any weapon to nuke the pdfs away, Why so stupid ?

A little search on the web and some tricks , and then clamav with sanesecurity , i know there're more solutions , but btw no commercial||corporate||famous AV software houses got the solution , i think this means something ;)

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A thought..

Now, I'm no stock trader. But if you knew this was a scam (and I'm sure some people would), could you not simply join in? Buy some shares, wait for everyone else to do so, and then bail out ASAP with a potentially decent profit.

Massively immoral, I know. But would it be possible?

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Anonymous Coward

makes you wonder

Why spam even still exists, i mean who are these idiots who actually buy the stuff people try to sell in spam and keep it going?

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Silver badge

It's so sad

I'm not sure which is sadder:

(a) that there are folks out there who, on receiving an unexpected email from an unidentifiable source with a PDF attachment, open and read the attachment and then go on to purchase the stock;

OR

(b) that I didn't buy 100,000 shares for myself and sell when they went up by 50% - doh!

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A fool and his money are soon parted...

"The share price in this company has rocketed as a result of bogus news being blasted to internet users worldwide"

<pedant>

No, the price rocketed because desperate, foolish people either believe the spam, or are (as some others have suggested) attempting to cash in on the foolishness of others. Either way, it's the demand that's driving the price.

</pedant>

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Pump and dump

It's possible to tag along with these scams as long as you do so quickly and it's a big risk. Ideally go for small volumes in penny stocks and set your target growth rate quite low (dump at 20%).

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Anonymous Coward

It's a big confidence game

The people who act on pump-and-dump "scams" aren't necessarily dumb. They recognise that there will be others like them looking for a quick buck and stake their money based on their own confidence that they will be able to sell at a profit; they'll be one of the winners, because they'll be able to react to or anticipate the crash better than all the other schmos who leap on the bandwagon.

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Musical Chairs

I imagine that maybe half the people that get these emails know exactly whats happening

Just someone is always going to be left holding a turd when the music stop

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Re: A thought

When you see the spam it's already too late to get in. The fraudsters win because they have their shares before they send it out.

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Anonymous Coward

DSPAM

DSPAM missed the first one of these but I told it that they were spam and its quite happily quarantined each and everyone of them since

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Anonymous Coward

I actually think i got this at work this morning

Ye opened my outlook (cringes) to find an empty email with a .pdf, needless to say it was deleted quite promptly.

Like has been said before how can people be so gullible, no actually thats not fair, curosity is the reason we have every advance we have its human nature. But emails are such an obvious angle of dishonested that people should really think before they click.

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If we KNOW the beneficiary...

as we apparently do in this case

"An aggressive spam campaign designed to ramp up the share price of a convenience store firm"...

then why the hell can't we just go after them for causing the SPAM?

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My filters work

Eudora does a pretty good job, I haven't seen any of these get through. According it's stats, I've had three false positives and 16 false negatives in the last 6 months.

I send out a monthly newsletter in the form of a PDF attachment. I just sent out a reminder to the recipients to whitelist me.

In the US, just hook up a fax machine. I receive important faxes at any time, so I have to leave it on. I also have a service that pursues junk faxers and pays me $100 a pop for successful prosecution. I think they collect about $1000 from each. But all I have to do is put them in an envelope once a month.

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Ummm

""An aggressive spam campaign designed to ramp up the share price of a convenience store firm"...

then why the hell can't we just go after them for causing the SPAM?"

That's one of the more ignorant things I've heard all day - it's so highly unlikely that it's the firm doing the pump and dumping of their own stock it's stupid.

These companies are 'preyed' upon by criminals looking for a quick buck and choose those which are low value and unknown to the general public which will get them a good return should they put a lot of money into the company. This kind of thing wouldn't work against a blue chip (ie big company like MS / IBM) as the ratio of increase would be minimal compared to the increase on Prime Time. Looking at the share value on http://finance.google.com/finance?q=prime+time they've done very well should they have bought the shares on the 3rd, 100% gain. Bonza.

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Anonymous Coward

A Greg and his money are soon parted.

Sometimes I despair at the self-delusional gullibility of the human race. Other times it just makes me laugh.

" Now, I'm no stock trader. But if you knew this was a scam (and I'm sure some people would), could you not simply join in? Buy some shares, wait for everyone else to do so, and then bail out ASAP with a potentially decent profit. "

And so now we know how people can be so stupid as to fall for it.

Nice work, Greg. You just asked "I know these people are out to con me out of my money with the empty promise of great rewards, so do you think I should part with my money and hope to get great rewards?".

Well DUUUHH, sucker. If the question doesn't answer itself, your brain is not working.

If your trick worked, the whole thing wouldn't actually be a scam, and everyone would do it. But it doesn't work. The deck is stacked, and you're the joker. FAIL!

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SEC rules regarding "insider trading", etc.

I'm curious, and hope someone who knows can answer: what are the legal rules about acting upon information received in the form of spam emails?

In other words, as a random spamee, if I get a "pump-n-dump" spam in my in-box, recognize it as such, and then short-sell whatever company had been advertised, is doing so illegal?

Is receiving "information" as spam considered "public disclosure", even though the "information" I'm actually gaining is simply the knowledge that someone else (unknown to me) is running a scam involving a particular company's stock?

I know it's illegal to use non-public information about a company to profit from anticipated changes in a stock's price, and I know that it's also illegal to orchestrate changes in a stock's price by fraudulent means, especially with the intention of profiting from said resultant change. However, I'm not clear on whether or not there would be anything either morally wrong or illegal with profiting by taking notice of the fact that someone else appeared to be running a mass-emailing pump-and-dump scam, and anticipating the resultant stock price swings on my own.

I think it comes down to whether or not mass-emailed pump-n-dump spams count as "public" disclosure of the fact that someone's running such a scam involving that company.

Of course, I'm not a lawyer, and none of my speculations should be construed as legal advice....

- Rick

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Bronze badge

Why not buy?

I monitored these for a while a few months ago when they were still using GIF images, keeping all the stock spam and then going back after a few months to see how I'd have done if I bought.

The answer was usually poorly - usually (although not always) there was very little change in price, even when there was a small spike in volume traded. I'd say forget it.

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Anonymous Coward

Hey Greg. Get in quick...

I've got some fresh air for sale. It is currently going up, but by late evening it is likely to be coming down. Buy in the early morning before it starts to rise, and sell late afternoon as it starts to drop.

Be quick. Don't bother doing due diligence or checking out www.freshair.com. This offer can't last.

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Hey Greg, bridge for sale...

..buy the world famous Brooklyn Bridge! Get it before its snapped up by the Japanese. Send loads of cash to: yesiamreallythatstupid.com

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No only PDF but Excel files now!

After the PDF tsunami, the Excel spam flood has already started. Hopefully I am using a managed services spam filter that successfully catch them all (www.intomic.com). But these ones are more frightning has they can contain macros that would execute on my laptop...What's going to be next?

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Anonymous Coward

Don't try to play stock spams

Website with experiment of stock spam paper portfolio losses

http://www.spamstocktracker.com/

Yes it is really daft to think you can make money from stock spams. Stock spammers make most of their money from greedy people who think they can buy and sell the spam stocked to a bigger fool. The stock spammers will make a big fool out of you. They got in first, you certainly won't. Even the spreads, the difference between bid and ask price on penny stocks, can make investing in penny stocks disastrous to trade frequently in a short term period and that's without any stock manipulation.

Please report stock spams to enforcement@sec.gov

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missing greg's point

people seem to assume that greg would keep the shares he bought. The trick is selling them before the spammer. you won't make as much (possibly less than the associated cost of buying them) and it is a risk (you have to judge when the spammer will sell) but it isn't simply giving money to the spammer.

NB. http://www.spamstocktracker.com/ shows the current price of the shares. The only interesting point is the qualative evidence in the note that says they rise minimally before diving. A table of theoretical maximum gains would be a lot more interesting than current prices.

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Anonymous Coward

Get off your high horses

"Nice work, Greg. You just asked "I know these people are out to con me out of my money with the empty promise of great rewards, so do you think I should part with my money and hope to get great rewards?"."

No, he actually said "But would it be possible?" which is a perfectly reasonable question. It was pretty clear from the context too, that he was very aware of the risk involved.

Accusing him of stupidity is somewhat churlish, really.

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Greg and Andrew:

There's an old saying; you can't con an honest man.

Everyone wonders who is still caught out by these stock scams, as it is so obvious that they are fake; the answer is, people like you who think they can join in the con and make a profit.

It's the same as many con tricks - the mark is fully aware that they are joining in a scam, but they think they're the con artist, not the target.

For this reason, I don't have any sympathy for people who try and fail to take advantage of these scams.

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