Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fake Pals

The other day, I received an email I had received before. Last time I received it, I fell for it. As savvy as I think I am about online scams, this one fooled me.

The email was from "PayPal", with whom I have an account. It told me that there had been some questionable activity on my account, and that in keeping with basic security issues, it reminded me to change my password from time to time. The email didn't ask anything from me, it just suggested I do something. So naturally, I thought I should change it right away.

I clicked on the link, the PayPal screen popped up, and I signed in to change my password. And almost immediately, my savviness kicked back into gear and I realized I had been duped. So I had to go to the real PayPal and change my password - oddly enough, just as I had been instructed by the fake PayPal.

But check out the two PayPal windows. I compared them and was amazed at the work that went into creating the fake site. Of course, millions of dollars are at stake, so it pays to be painstakingly accurate about creating a fake site. But I thought the similarities were pretty impressive:











Can you tell which one is real and which is the imposter?** Hard to tell, right? The layout, colours, fonts, links, logo - all the same, or pretty accurate facsimiles thereof. However, the thing I noticed was that when I clicked on the real PayPal, my account name and password were already entered for me, because they had been stored by PayPal. The fake PayPal had none of that. And going back to the fake PayPal site, I discovered that none of the links on the page worked - they were just blue, underlined fonts. But how many people would check them out anyway? The first thing you would do - or I would do, rather - is sign in and go from there.

When I heard stories about how people are duped into handing over their life savings, I wondered how gullible these people must be? But then I was victim to something like this. Granted I realized the mistake almost as soon as I made it. But many don't.

Yeah, it's pathetic that there are people out there who create these things. And I think hell will be 20 degrees hotter for them when they die. But until then, I think it's our civic and social responsibility to bust as many of them as possible.

** the one on the left is the fake.
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